ACCRINGTON snowboarder Dean Horsfield has taken his first tentative steps towards the 2014 Winter Games after competing at last week’s European Youth Olympic Winter Festival in Poland.
The 16-year-old – who is at Blackburn College having previously been at St Christopher’s High School – reached the boardercross final in Slask Beskidy, where he finished in the top 32.
Horsfield got off to a good start in the final but was unlucky in the middle part of the course, where the relentless heavy snow conditions caught him out.
Unperturbed by his fall, Horsfield rallied to put in a strong finish to find 31st - the best result of a Great Britain athlete for eight years in boardercross.
It even got him a mention on Eurosport who were covering the event live!
And with just a year to go until the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver – Horsfield, who is a member of the Great Britain Development Squad, is determined to make the most of his opportunity.
"I didn’t really know what to expect from Poland," said Horsfield, who learnt to ride at the Rossendale Dry Ski Slope.
"This was my first international FIS boardercross event, so I’m really pleased with my performance.
"I was feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement heading into the final but it was a really good experience.
"With the Olympics coming next year, I’m really excited to be going to an event where I can ride against people from other countries.
"I’ll be watching the Olympics and dreaming of getting there myself. Hopefully in a few years’ time I can be there but I’ll certainly be watching them next year."
For Horsfield, like the rest of the British squad, it was their first opportunity to experience a multi-sport event and the chance to savour the atmosphere of an Olympic Village and Olympic competition.
Horsfield competed alongside 1070 athletes from 45 European countries, taking part in nine different winter disciplines, with Britain sending athletes in the alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, curling, and figure skating and snowboarding.
"Considering the lack of boardercross training the team has undertaken, we have gained some promising results this week, which we can build upon heading in to the British Championships next month," said Team Performance Coach Sonia Shaw.
"To have a British athlete recognised in the top 32 boardercross riders at this event, hasn’t been achieved since Zoe Gillings competed at the EYOWF in 2001."
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