6 February 2018Cheshire used gymnastics to bounce back after injuries and loss of confidence
Rowan Cheshire may have her great grandfather to thank for her resilience after the crash which wrecked her first Olympics and threatened her career.
The 22-year-old ski halfpipe athlete crashed in training at her maiden Olympics four years ago in Sochi, with her Games ending before it had even begun.
Cheshire suffered concussion and a further head injury on her return, before using psychological and familial support to get back to the sport she loves and to qualify for her second Olympics, here in Pyeongchang.
She has the Olympic rings tattoo, despite not making it to competition in 2014, alongside another meaningful piece of body art on her left arm, relating to Kenny Conway, her great grandfather.
Conway was in the Navy, on board HMS Royal Oak, which sank at Scapa Flow, off the Orkney Islands, in 1939.
Cheshire said: “I was really close to my great grandad and he passed away a couple of years ago.
“He was in the Navy but his ship sank and he managed to swim ashore then he lived until he was 90-odd.
“I’ve got the coordinates for that, I’ve got the ship (tattooed).”
Cheshire, from Crewe, performs near-gravity defying tricks on skis.
She became the first British female skier to win a World Cup halfpipe title in Calgary, Canada in January 2014 and appeared to be on a high entering Sochi.
But her head injury was followed by others which left her out of the sport for approaching two years.
“The second concussion was such a short time after the first so it kind of messed with my head a little bit more,” Cheshire added.
“After the first one I wasn’t fine but I recovered a little bit faster and I was fine getting back into skiing. The second one really knocked me mentally.
“After my head injuries I didn’t want to go anywhere by myself, so I went to see the doctors with my Mum and so on.
“Getting the train into Manchester from where I live, the easiest thing, I didn’t want to do. I’d go into a panic if I had to do it.”
Slowly, but surely, she recovered her confidence, with gymnastics helping physically and mentally as the spins and rotations are similar to those she performs on skis.
Cheshire no longer uses a psychologist, but has coping mechanisms for the injuries which are an inevitable part of sport.
“I can deal with the stress a lot better now and dealing with injuries, I’m a bit more positive towards it I think,” she added.
“A lot of it’s about trying to train yourself towards positive thinking and relaxing. Everyone’s got different coping mechanisms but it’s about casting all of them out to see what works for you.
“I’ve definitely improved my mentality and positivity about a lot of situations in trying to see the silver lining in things.”