Owen Pick is determined to simply enjoy his time on the slopes in Beijing as he heads out to China as part of what he describes as ParalympicsGB’s most competitive team yet.
Pick, from Red Lodge near Newmarket, is competing in his second Paralympics after finishing ninth in both the snowboard cross and banked slalom events at PyeongChang 2018.
The Army veteran, 30, lost his leg in Afghanistan after stepping on an IED aged just 18 and picked up snowboarding as part of his recovery.
And Pick, who was ParalympicsGB’s flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony of PyeongChang 2018, said: “I went into the last Games and there was so much expectation on my head, I put so much pressure on myself.
“I was doing interviews saying I’m going to bring back medals and, actually, you just put too much on yourself.
“This time, going in, I just want to enjoy it. I’m going to enjoy the courses, enjoy snowboarding, and enjoy going to the country – it’s not very often you get to go to China.”
Pick goes into the Games as the World Championship silver medallist in the banked slalom SB-LL2 and won the Crystal Globe in 2020 but is ultimately driven by the enjoyment he gets out on the course and from winter sports.
“So much focus gets put on medals, which are important of course,” added Pick, one of over 1,000 athletes able to train full-time, access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support thanks to vital National Lottery funding.
“But the raw aspect of it is, we do this as athletes because we love what we do. The only way we can keep going with it is to be enjoying ourselves and have a good time.”
Another exciting opportunity from the Games for Pick is the chance for snowsports to be seen by a wider audience and get more people involved.
“To be able to showcase snowboarding on a worldwide scale, especially being from England, it’s just cool because we can’t walk out into our back garden and there’s a mountain there,” he added.
“I found snowboarding and it wasn’t so much the sport for me but the lifestyle – the people around snowboarding – who were involved in snowboarding who were just really nice, easy going, humble people.
“I recommend snowboarding to all of my friends. In fact, I recommend going to the mountains and just being in that lifestyle.
“I don’t care if you’re on a snowboard, if you’re on skis, ice skates, it makes no difference to me; it’s just such a lovely environment to be, it’s just amazing.”
Back in Red Lodge, the support for Pick has been as strong as ever. In 2018, the snowboarder rented a pub for family and friends to watch him compete.
“I think my dad said 150 people turned up which was really cool and because the time over there in the evening was midday for me in South Korea, I FaceTimed into them and saw everyone which was really cool,” he said.
“The support back home is incredible.”
And with the Games in Beijing now just three days away, he added: “They’ll all be calling me at the last minute, sending me messages saying have a good time, good luck and all that sort of things, which is really nice.”
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