As the 21/22 snowsport season approaches, hear from gb snowsport chief executive, vicky gosling, about the year ahead
As the nation’s thoughts turn to familiar autumn and winter landmarks – Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night, Christmas – to us, it can only mean one thing: the snowsport season is about to begin.
Getting our preparations right
For our athletes and coaches, it’s been a busy summer.
First, rest and recovery from a gruelling past 18-months where quarantines, travel restrictions, cancelled competitions and a vital-but-demanding covid testing regime added a level of stress and exertion that nobody in our sport has ever experienced before.
After that, strength, conditioning, and psychological preparedness training. It’s easy to imagine that the months between one season finishing and a new one starting are downtime for our skiers and snowboarders, but the reality is they’re probably doing some of their hardest work in those summer months. Once the season’s underway, there’s vanishingly little time in-between competitions for dedicated fitness training, so the work they put in during those months is about as punishing as you can imagine. Thankfully, we’re supported by some of the best sport scientists, nutritionists, conditioning coaches, and athlete welfare specialists in the business. Their work now is our cutting edge through the winter.
Finally, it’s back on snow and into training camps. Right across Europe, British skiers and snowboarders are fine-tuning technique, building speed, honing tricks, and working out competition strategies alongside their support teams.
the season begins
Then, it’s competition time. And there’s a lot of competition ahead of us. From this month, we’re straight into Europa Cups, World Cups and World Championships. Here in Europe and in North America, Brits will be looking to build on a series of incredible results over the past two years, which have seen us go further as a nation than ever before in our history.
And then? Looming on the horizon, the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. For the athletes that make it, the chance to pull on Team GB colours and write themselves into sporting history. The opportunity to build on the foundations laid by generations of British skiers and snowboarders before them. And a moment for us to show the world that British snowsport talent can compete with the very best.
While all eyes are on results on snow, we’ll also have a team whose focus is on making sure our athletes (and their support teams) are getting the mental health support that they need. Everything we’ve learned from the past 18 months of supporting athletes through covid, and the ups-and-downs that has entailed, will go towards making sure the whole team is looked after in the coming months.
Along with the excitement of competition and the elation of victory will come stress, disappointment, and frustration. It’s our job to ensure the team are all treated, above all else, as humans, with human needs, human strengths, and human frailties. As a sport, we cannot afford to do anything less.
Making a difference away from the slopes
This is a vitally important year for British skiing and snowboarding hopes, and we’ve also been investing behind-the-scenes to ensure that, whatever happens in the next six months, we’re acting now to strengthen our sport for the next generation.
That means working closely with the grassroots of skiing and snowboarding in Britain to strengthen the pathway to our elite squads and promoting better diversity and inclusion right the way through that pipeline. It also means bolstering our programmes around management of head injuries and investing in new technologies to give our Para-Athletes a competitive edge. And it means building a culture where our athletes are safe, supported, and working side-by-side as a team.
We’re determined to make the most of the opportunities of the season ahead, and we want to do so in a way that supports the sport for the long-term. Now, with the first competitions of the season in sight we hope that the eyes of the nation will be glued to the slopes. We’re ready to inspire.
- 22 October | Freestyle Ski World Cup – Chur, Switzerland
- 23 October | Snowboard World Cup – Chur, Switzerland
- 23-24 October | Alpine Ski World Cup – Soelden, Austria
Header Image: Billy Major competing at the Ski World Cup Men’s Slalom in Abelboden, Switzerland, in January 2021. Alexis Boichard for Agence Zoom.