Jess Rich has finally received the news she’s been waiting for.
The 27-year-old has been given medical clearance to make her Olympic debut in Snowboard Big Air on Day 10 of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Rich’s Olympic dream was thrown into jeopardy last month when she ruptured her ACL during training in Colorado, and although she won’t be competing in optimum form, she has been given the all clear to compete in event’s Olympic debut.
Rich said it was a “surreal” feeling to finally get sign off from Australian Team medical staff.
“A wave of relief came over me. I have worked so hard for this and finally I get my shot to live my dream,” she said.
“It is a significant injury that will require surgery once I have finished my event, but I am lucky that I had an amazing group of people around me that were so supportive and willing to put in the hard yards with me to get me back to this point.
“There was a lot of sweat and tears but I’m amazed at what our bodies are capable of.
“It has taken me a few tries at the [medical clearance] test but I’ve finally passed and have a lot of confidence in my knee.”
The Sydney-sider, who competes in both Snowboard Slopestyle and Big Air, made her World Cup debut in 2015, six months before she scored her first top-10 result with eighth in the slopestyle Olympic Test Event in February 2016.
While she did not receive medical clearance in time for the slopestyle event, she heads into next week’s Big Air with two top 10 Big Air World Cup results from this season and a world ranking of 13th.
While things haven’t quite gone to plan on her Olympic journey, she is stoked to be here doing what she loves.
“It has been a really hard 15 months for me and it definitely wasn’t a smooth ride here.
“Obviously my goals have changed after my injury and I’m not as competitive as I would like to be due to all the time I have had off snow.
“My goal now is to land the tricks I do and just to enjoy being at the Olympics.”
The extreme event of Big Air will make its Games debut at PyeongChang 2018 and according to Rich spectators can “expect big tricks, big falls and big smiles!”
“It’s going to be mental. There is so much talent in this pool of girls and I’m so excited to be there to watch what happens.”
Women’s Big Air qualifiers are on Day 10 (February 19), with finals on Day 14 (February 23) at the Apensia Ski Jumping Centre.