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Madi Rowlands is a 15-year-old freestyle skier from Walderslade in Kent. She won Britain's first ever medal on snow at the Youth Winter Olympics in Lillehammer in February 2016. Madi, who is a pupil at Fort Pitt Grammar School for Girls in Chatham, started skiing at the age of three during a family skiing holiday to the French Alps. She won Gold in the halfpipe event in Norway and then followed that up with Bronze in the slopestyle. She's now targeting a place on Team GB for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
PARALLEL TRAILS: How did family skiing holidays shape your love for skiing and begin your journey towards becoming a competition skier?
MADI ROWLANDS: My family were a major influence on my love for skiing. They were the ones to put me on the slopes when I was a child and my family were the people who have encouraged me since the first day.
PT: What advice can you give a young skier who currently enjoys and excels on skiing holidays but wants to take the sport more seriously?
MR: If you want to start freestyle skiing more seriously I would suggest attending a few of the grom camps that are held in various places all over the UK and maybe the summer British free ski camps because they are really good with handling all levels of skiing.
PT: How did you get started in freestyle skiing - those kickers and rails must have looked pretty scary to start with?
MR: To start with I followed my brother through the freestyle park in our home resort Les Deux Alpes, copying his technique and trying to do the same things as him. At first I did find them a bit daunting but once you've done them a few times you get relatively used to it! I still get a bit nervous now when I'm hitting a really big kicker for the first time because so many things can go wrong.
PT: Did you ever think about doing downhill or slalom?
MR: I used to compete in slalom when I was younger but it doesn't have the same thrill factor as freestlye. I think this is because with freestyle you can change your run up and make it more interesting where as personally I find downhill or slalom relatively boring.
PT: You’re now a Winter Youth Olympics Gold medallist - Britain's first ever - how does that feel?
MR: It was an honour to be selected to go to the Youth Olympics in the first place but now that I've won gold and bronze medals it feels absolutely amazing. To say I've represented my country in two Olympic events and achieved a podium in both is definitely something to be proud of and maybe something to even brag about.
PT: What are your favourite ski resorts when you are not competing - what makes them so great?
MR: One of my favourite resorts is Vars in France because it's one of the most creative parks I've been to, but Mayrhofen is arguably one of the best because it's got an amazing park with short lift laps as well.
PT: What's the best thing for young skiers to focus on - completing a course of lessons or just free ski and have fun in the mountains?
MR: I would say that the most important thing is to keep on having fun and enjoying yourself as much as possible because too many children that are up and coming in the sport are becoming more and more pressurised and it is taking away the fun in the sport.
PT: Your brother Mike and sister Lexi are also freestyle skiers – so are you all really competitive and do they both think they're better than you?
MR: My brother is definitely better than me but I'd never admit it to his face! My sister on the other hand is still sort of new to the sport so she tells herself she is better than me but really she knows I'm better in every single way possible!