Team GB’s freestyle ski head coach Pat Sharples is back home in Lytham – and reflecting with pride and delight on the experience of a lifetime at the Winter Olympics.
After an impressive showing from the athletes under his charge on the debut of their sport at the Games, he is already looking forward to them building on their achievements in South Korea in four years’ time.
But after the events in Sochi ended with Britain having enjoyed its best Winter Games for 90 years, the clear priority for Pat was to get back home to wife Vanessa and 18-month-old son Reggie.
After little if any time to spend with family since Christmas, he even missed the closing ceremony to head back as soon as possible for an emotional reunion.
The 36-year-old has also been catching up with other family members around Fylde who delighted him with their messages of support as the freestyle ski and snowboard teams achieved a bronze medal, courtesy of snowboarder Jenny Jones, and five other top 10 finishes.
Injuries to team members James Woods, who was a leading medal hopeful, and teenager Rowan Cheshire, hit the hopes of other members of the freestyle team appearing on the podium but Pat said: “It was a wonderful experience, although I think it will be two or three weeks before I fully appreciate it.
“We had our highs and lows but I am so proud of being part of such a marvellous Games and there is so much to build on in four years’ time.
“It was the first time that our freeski discipline had been involved in the Games but I think we added plenty of spectacle to the occasion and the feedback we have received has been wonderful.
“We were really pleased with the six top 10 finishes, including a medal, and I would really like to thank everyone for their support.”
While he ended up watching the closing ceremony on TV at home, Pat also missed the opening ceremony in Sochi as he was busy with coaching responsibilities ahead of the start of competition.
“To be honest, I was so busy that I had little time to appreciate the surroundings but what really impressed me was the marvellous team spirit on show throughout the Games,” he said.
“It really is something special to be part of Team GB in an Olympics and there was such a sense of togetherness and being united in our desire for success.
“We were next door to Lizzie Yarnold and were delighted to be able to cheer her on to gold in the skeleton event.”
Pat is now taking a couple of weeks off before heading to Europe for competition next month and a training camp in April.
Meanwhile, he is delighted at the legacy already emerging of extra interest in freeski events following the Games. “The feedback i have received is that people are flocking to indoor and outdoor arenas to give the sport a try and that is so pleasing to hear,” said Pat.