Mani Cooper may be 17 years old but she is already a history maker.
The Team GB star etched her name in the books of sporting history after she became Great Britain’s first ever female ski jumper in an Olympics. She competed in the women’s Nordic combined event at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne.
Cooper first ignited her desire for ski jumping back in 2012, after watching the Four Hills ski-jumping tournament in Innsbruck with her father.
In awe of the heights the jumpers reached, the Kettering-born Briton insisted she wanted to give the sport her try and, despite her reticent dad’s attempts to dissuade her by showing her crashes and tumbles - at age 10 Cooper committed.
Two years into ski-jumping the then 12-year-old talent found herself in the Tyrolian Ski Federation regional squad and it was then that she started competing in Nordic combined: an event that rolls ski-jumping and cross-country skiing into one.
Fast forward a few years Cooper now has Lausanne 2020 under her belt, and she’s itching for more competition.
Read on for things you didn’t know about one of Britain’s most promising winter sport athletes.
1. She received a special message from Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards
For most Brits the mention of ski jumping evokes one name: Eddie ‘the Eagle’.
The plasterer famously finished last twice in the men’s ski jump at the Calgary 1988 Olympic Winter Games.
While he didn’t come away with a medal, he did win over the hearts of the British public and has been Winter Games icon in the country ever since.
Just before Cooper got her Lausanne 2020 campaign underway Edwards sent the record-breaking teenager a good luck message, which had an emotional response:
“I have to say I had to kind of hold my tears back a bit,” Cooper said after receiving the message from the Olympian.
2. When at the top of the jump calmness is king
The ski jump is a very technical event.
Holding your nerve at the top of the hill requires great mental strength. Ever wondered what’s going through the jumpers’ minds as they get ready to launch?
For Cooper, in those final moments, dwelling on the eventual end distance is crucial.
In the past, wanting to achieve a certain distance and allowing that thought to override everything else has led her to lose out on all-important technical points:
“Everyone’s different but for me personally if I’m mentally prepared, relaxed and calm I perform my best.”
“I need to be calm and be by myself and take it one step at a time.”
3. Jessica Ennis-Hill is her role model
Although Cooper is a snow sport athlete when it comes to her sporting role model you’ll be hard pressed to find them in the mountains.
The young Briton looks up to none other than London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill.
And that determination for the bright skiing talent, is everything.
4. Her biggest crash to date
With high risk comes big reward - but sometimes too, comes big consequences.
For those that compete in ski jumping there is a sense of familiarity around that trade-off, especially when it comes to crashing.
Though big falls weren’t enough to dissuade the current women’s British ski jumping record holder from starting out in the sport, Cooper does admit that it can be scary when things don’t go to plan.
Her biggest crash came when she was competing one day in Norway. The back bindings of her skis came open on her third jump and it was only after she jumped, she realised her ski wasn’t on.
She insists, however, that crashing does not happen very often!
5. She's a musician in her free time
Competing in two different sports with very different physical demands means that knowing how to unwind is especially important.
Fortunately for the skier she has lots of hobbies she enjoys when she isn’t training on the snow.
As well as cooking and baking, Cooper has a passion for music so much so that she plays in a band with her dad and sister.
While her father is on the guitar and sister is on the drums, Cooper plays the bass and provides the vocals.
6. Her number one aim right now is Beijing 2022
Cooper has officially been bitten by the Olympic bug.
After thoroughly enjoying her outing in Lausanne, Cooper's next ambition is to compete at Beijing 2022, where the Nordic combined women's event will debut for the very first time.
“My big aim is to compete at Beijing 2022 in the first women’s Nordic combined event.”
One day she even hopes to be an Olympic champion.