The Wigwam Blog


Summer is here and Pamela Thorburn, former Alpine Ski Champion and current Ski Cross competitor, is finally off the slopes and enjoying a little rest and relaxation. Now that we were able to catch Pam in some downtime, Wigwam decided to drop in on her for a little Q&A to see what makes this athlete tick. Some of her answers were a bit surprising.

Pam Thornburn Ski Cross

On Skiing, Training, and Bodily Harm


In 2011, you made the choice to leave behind Alpine Skiing for Ski Cross. What was your motivation for making the switch to the more extreme of the two?

Pamela Thorburn:

In 2010 my sights were firmly set on the Olympics, my heart broke when I wasn’t selected. I had worked my whole career towards that goal and I knew I had made the standard to go yet was still overlooked when our federation went bankrupt weeks before. I loved Alpine but it had become so political that I felt like I was always hitting a brick wall, so I decided to take myself away from that and find something that made me happy. I knew I still had the drive and need to compete, so Ski Cross was a natural progression for me. I only wish I had switched over earlier… I love it!


Are there any significant differences in how you train for the two types of sport? Is one more mental or physical than the other?


With regards to dry land training, they are quite similar.  It is essentially the same muscles and functional movements for both sports, only with ski cross the focus is more on upper body for faster starts and all sorts of jumping exercises to help with being in the air.

On snow the training is quite different with the focus a lot more on jumping and features. I wouldn’t say mentally one is tougher than the other, they just require alternate mind sets.


It’s now summer. How do you handle the offseason? Any certain training regiments you stick to?


I love the offseason because you get to focus on changing and improving the things you need to and get your body back in top shape. During the season you pick up niggling injuries and summer is the time to iron them out with training and rehab, etc.


It’s been mentioned quite often how many injuries you’ve previously dealt with and how switching from Alpine to Ski-X seemed like a slightly nutty decision. You mind telling us how many bones you have bruised or broken over the years? Care to tell us the worst injury you were forced to deal with?


Hmm this is a really tough one. I actually lost count how many broken or bruised bones I have, I just know that I was once at the Calgary Stampede and I compared my injuries to a bull rider… I had more. That was actually pretty fun; I got mad respect for that!

My worst injury would probably be fracturing my neck, it was almost 10 years ago but I still have problems with it.


You unfortunately failed to qualify for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and then again for Sochi this year. Seeing that you were the 2012 British champion, do you feel that the stringent criteria set by The British Olympic Association and British Ski and Snowboard unfairly kept you away from Sochi?


I would say it was unfair for me not to go to Vancouver as I proved myself in 2010 but Sochi was another story. I was badly injured in the run up to Sochi so my pre season was pretty non existent. I didn’t have the training I badly needed due to this and lack of funding so I didn’t produce the results I needed in the qualifying period.

However, I do feel like the British Olympic Association should alter some of their policies. Not accepting ‘hand back’ spots for a sport like Ski Cross is absolutely nuts. I say that because only the top 32 in the World compete at the games, I was officially invited to go but my country needed me to be better so they turned down my spot. In ski cross anything can happen, in the mens event for example Jonathan Midol qualified in 29th for the race… and finished with a bronze medal.


Regardless of past disappointments, you still have your eye on South Korea in 2018. Knowing the difficulties of qualifying for the previous two Olympics, is your approach towards making it to Pyeongchang going to change significantly? If so, how?


I’m taking everything year by year, step by step. I didn’t have a full Olympic cycle (4years) to train for Sochi so I feel like I am at a big advantage now. Everything was a bit rushed before because my only focus was Sochi, now I have World Championships coming up next season and a whole lot of training to do before then.

After getting some insights into what it’s like to be a professional skier and what it takes to compete with some of the world’s best, we figure it was time to change things up and get a bit more personal.

On Movies, Music, and, Love


What is your all time favorite movie/film and why? 


Hmm…this is a tough one as I absolutely love movies. It would be a hard call between Mystery Alaska and Rocky 4. Who doesn't love an underdog? I still have the Rocky 4 soundtrack in my gym playlist.

Russell Crowe Sylvestor Stallone


If someone were to borrow your ipod, what type of music would they find? Any favorites? 


People hate my iPod! I have the strangest selection of music. My absolute favorite is rock and metal, I grew up on Iron Maiden so that features heavily but I have come to love country music too. A mix of chilled, heavy metal, acoustic and country make for an awesome shuffle playlist.

Eddie Versus Garth


If you had to pick from three people to be your lover, best friend, and roommate, who would those three people be? 


Oh good question.

Lover- Charlie Hunnam, if you have ever seen Son's of Anarchy you will know why... and his hair is incredible. 

Charlie Hunnam Bad Hair

Best Friend- Melissa McCarthy, because she is hilarious, can you imagine the trouble you would get in to with her as a best friend?!

Melissa Mccarthy Bag Head Nose Bleed

Roommate- Torah Bright, she's Olympic gold medalist, badass snowboarder, roxy model and all round cool chick... I fangirl'd a little when I met her this year.

Torah Bright Gold Medalist


Finally, we’ve had a very hard time judging who placed where in this photo finish. Since we have your intimate expertise here, would you mind telling us who actually placed second in this race?

Ski Cross Ending


Ah, this was so crazy wasn’t it?! The Russian on the far left actually took 2nd because his arm crossed first… much to the delight of the Russian fans. It’s so hard to see though but what a finish.

We'd like to thank Pam for taking time out of her very unbusy schedule to answer our questions. We look forward to monitoring her progress as she moves on to establish herself as an elite in the world of Ski Cross. For more about Pam, be sure to visit her website at

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