Suspicion of snow is a peculiarly British trait. Globally speaking, in the most generalised manner, the winter season is embraced as a time of cooperation, community and cheer. In the UK, however, the gift-giving formalities of Christmas Day simply distract, as melancholy prevails with the beginning of the new year. The unrelenting chaos that we endure annually after just a few inches of snow - trains grind to a halt, planes refuse to leave airports and schools temporarily close - gives us good reason to treat the earliest months with great caution.
Every four years however, the chilly tedium is warmed by an Olympic flame, as the Winter Games offers us some much needed sporting relief. However, with few Brits prepared to gather round and indulge in it's flickering glow, television figures indicate that we are often presented with a Winter Olympic Games that tends to underwhelm. Vancouver 2010 threatened to buck the trend, as Amy Williams won Britain's first solo Winter Olympics gold in 30 years with an incredible victory in the women's skeleton by just 0.56 seconds, despite failing to qualify for the previous tournament four years prior. The rarity of a Brit topping the podium at such an event provided a tonic for such bitterness, however briefly, and reminded many of our exciting young potential Winter Olympians that only success will be enough to motivate an apathetic British public.
Katie Summerhayes, at just 15 years old, conflates both the talent and the optimism required to transform the ailing perception of Winter Sports in the United Kingdom. Competing at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympics in Innsbruck from Friday 11 January, Summerhayes is Britain's number one freestyle skier and has already competed at the senior 2011 FIS World Championships in the USA.
The customarily charming Chemmy Alcott recently complained that the "British just love to criticise", identifying the British malaise about Vancouver - and winter sports in general - as something culturally or nationally unique. Summerhayes, however, epitomises the enthusiasm of youth as she discusses her blossoming future in the sport.
"I think the goal of any athlete is to become an Olympian," Summerhayes asserts, reflecting on the possibility of featuring at the senior Winter Olympics in 2014. "Getting that opportunity to represent Great Britain would be a super achievement. I've always wanted to be an Olympian, so it would be a dream come true.
Still in her infancy as an athlete, Summerhayes lacks the cynicism that is often found being expressed by British athletes, the media and the public alike. Her lack of pretension is refreshing; "my goal for Innsbruck will be to get on the podium", she insists in no uncertain terms.
Even at the Youth Games, Summerhayes operates as one of the youngest competitors, though she resolutely stands by considerable expectations that she has set herself.
"There are a couple of girls in there who are under 20 that are dominating," she optimistically explains, clearly enchanted by the prospect of emulating something similar in the near future. "Hopefully I can be one of them. Devin Logan; she won the overall ranking for halfpipe and slopestyle earlier this year, so she is one of the best and she is only 18.
"I want to try and do the best I can. I've been training really hard over the past couple of months to try and achieve that. If I can get in the top 5, that would be good, but the podium is what I am aiming for and what I would like to come away with."
Unaffected by the cynicism of a British media and it's public, Summerhayes busily continues enjoying the glut of experiences being offered to her by the sport. Recently returning from Copper Mountain, Colorado, at a Team GB training camp situated in Breckenridge, Summerhayes now braces herself for a new journey to Europe, in pursuit of an experience many girls her age can only dream of.
"I was in Breckenridge, Colorado, at Copper Mountain, with the GB Team" she excitedly explains, seemingly naive to the grandeur of such a statement. "That is one of the best freestyle parks in the world right now. We had a base out there, now I'm heading out to Switzerland before the Youth Games for five days, and hopefully I can get in a couple of extra days training."
What is she most looking forward to when she reaches Innsbruck for the inaugural Winter Youth Olympics? "One of the competitors is from Norway, and I was training with her out in America. So I'm looking forward to competing against her again."
Softly spoken and quietly reserved, Summerhayes exposes her competitive nature with little persuasion. "Also, hanging out with Team GB, seeing all of the other competitors and going to the athletes village," she diplomatically continues, although her intentions have already been made clear. Her success thus far, albeit yet to encroach on the senior circuit, is largely down to such self-determination and dedicated enthusiasm. With each development she makes, the risks intensify as she confesses she has "only been able to go off big jumps" in just "the past couple of years".
"In March this year I bit my tongue open," Summerhayes explains. "I also broke my rib and then a couple of years ago I broke my wrist."
Her description of the sport she fell in love with at just 9 years of age doesn't sound the most appealing in reference to the risk rather than the reward, but the highest accolade in freeskiing reached unprecedented levels after it was announced as an Olympic event for the first time. More so than ever, Summerhayes' participation and future success as a British Winter Olympian could now provide vital impetus for what would be described as - perhaps prematurely, given her tender years - the next generation.
"The World Championships was earlier this year, and the X-Games happen every year, so get you get a heads up from those events. I think a lot more people will start competing more because it is an Olympic event."
The fact remains that success breeds interest, and vice-versa. It comes as little surprise that Canada topped the medal table at the Vancouver Winter Olympics; a return of fourteen golds for a nation with an unrivalled passion and participation in winter sport. The key to winning the hearts of a sceptical British public could lay in the hands of a girl who got into the sport for all the right reasons. The enthusiasm and enjoyment seemingly absent from the British zeitgeist will be replaced by Summerhayes on Friday in Austria, with a young girl in pursuit of her "dream" proving once again that whilst age considers, youth ventures.