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Beijing-bound Gerken-Schofield sisters emotional to leave brother Tom behind

Tom’s progress was stalled last year when he suffered concussion, which effectively ended his hopes of joining his sisters at the Winter Olympics.

Makayla Gerken-Schofield
Makayla Gerken-Schofield

Olympic qualification proved a bitter-sweet affair for the Gerken-Schofield sisters Leonie and Makayla as the realisation dawned that they would be forced to leave their brother Tom back home.

The moguls skiers had hoped to become only the second trio of siblings to represent Great Britain at a Games after the Muirheads – Eve, Thomas and Glen – who qualified for Pyeongchang four years ago.

But after claiming an historic World Cup silver medal in Krasnoyarsk in March, Tom’s progress was stalled by a subsequent concussion which effectively ended his hopes of joining his sisters in Beijing.

“It’s been a mix of emotions in the household,” said 22-year-old Makayla, the youngest of the siblings.

“One minute we’re celebrating and the next minute we’ve got tears in our eyes because Tom isn’t joining us. He was absolutely smashing it but then he got the concussion, but we’re super-proud of him no matter what.”

Tom’s absence is especially hard for Leonie, his twin, having shared all their winter sports moments since their parents took the decision to move to the French mountains when they were at an early age.

Leonie Gerken-Schofield hopes to make up for the absence of her twin brother Tom (Marc Amann/GB Snowsport/PA handout)

“I’m just so happy to see him back and confident on his skis again,” Leonie said. “I think he is going to have the fire inside him to come back even stronger.

“He’s not sitting there crying his eyes out, which I’m sure I would have been doing if I wasn’t picked. We’ve done everything together so it is strange that we are not going to an Olympics together, but I know he’ll be supporting us from far away.”

Moguls, in which skiers race down a bumpy course complete with jumps, might be little known in Britain, for whom the Gerken-Schofields are the first representatives since 2010, but a much bigger deal where they grew up in France.

For the action-loving duo it was the obvious option to pursue – once Makayla overcame her initial fears about heading out to join her siblings on the snow.

“I remember the day my parents told me to give it a shot and I didn’t want to leave the house – I was just sitting there crying my eyes out,” Makayla said.

“But it’s probably the best decision I ever made because I’ve been doing it ever since then and it’s been really incredible just to be with them.

“It was our ski instructor who told us to give it a go. We were always on the side of the piste, jumping off and doing silly stuff. Freestyle is more fun than alpine which has a lot of structure. We were always more of the crazy kids on skis.”

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