As the new year approaches, we take a look back on a year that changed the game for British snowsport
Looking back at 2022, it would be easy to forget just how much of a game-changer the past 12 months has been for British skiing and snowboarding. A year that began with a sharp focus on the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games ended up becoming so much more, with history made from Austria to Alpe d’Huez.
The roll call of successes is significant, particularly for a nation frequently told that we don’t have the legacy of a “serious” snowsport nation.
Charlotte Bankes delivered Britain’s first ever Snowboard Cross Crystal Globe with six victories and eight podiums in eight World Cup races, with two more from three races in the 2022/23 season to date.
Makayla Gerken Schofield not only provided the best ever Olympic Moguls performance from a British skier, but proceeded to back it up with a blistering start to the 2023/23 season yielding five top-10s in five World Cups, including a fourth place in Alpe d’Huez, the best British finish in a Single Moguls World Cup competition.
Andrew Musgrave’s mastery of the 10km distance came into its own at the dawn of the 2022/23 season with fifth, fourth, and third place finishes at consecutive World Cups, the latter at Beitostolen marking the first British Cross-Country podium since Andrew Young’s second place in Dresden in 2020, and Musgrave’s first podium since 2017.
Kirsty Muir’s Olympic debut delivered two top-10s including a fifth place in the Big Air competition in a year which saw her finish in the top-10 in all four World Cup competitions she entered, marking her out as one of the world’s most exciting young Freeskiers at just 18 years old.
And no discussion of exciting youth talent would be complete without mention of 15-year-old Mia Brookes whose 2021/22 season returned a scarcely believable eight victories and one runner-up spot from nine competitions, including two medals at the Junior World Championships, before heading straight into the top-10 on her World Cup debut.
Ollie Hill returned from the Beijing Paralympic Winter Games with Britain’s first ever Paralympic snowboarding medal, his bronze in the Banked Slalom adding to the bronze he secured at the World Para Snowsport Championships as part of the Team event alongside James Barnes-Miller.
Those same Championships in Lillehammer in January returned a further nine British medals, with James Barnes-Miller taking silver and bronze in Snowboard Cross and Dual Banked Slalom, Neil and Andrew Simpson taking silver in Super-Combined, Shona Brownlee silver in Super-G and bronze in Giant Slalom, Millie Knight and Brett Wild gold in Super-Combined and bronze in Super-G, and Menna Fitzpatrick and Katie Guest gold in Slalom and silver in Super-Combined.
Snowsport athletes also contributed all six British medals at the Beijing Paralympic Winter Games, with Ollie Hill’s bronze adding to Neil and Andrew Simpson’s outstanding gold medal winning performance in Super-G and bronze in Super-Combined, Menna Fitzpatrick and Gary Smith’s silver and bronze in Super-G and Super-Combined, and Millie Knight and Brett Wild’s bronze in Downhill, the latter marking the final medal winning performance of Knight and Wild’s incredible partnership before Wild’s retirement post-Games.
In Telemark, Jaz Taylor continued to deliver exceptional performances at World Cup level with eight podiums including two World Cup victories across another glory-filled 2021/22 season.
And then, back in January, there was the big one. But we’ll return to that in a moment.
Because off the slopes, there were major strides made across the sport. New commercial partnerships with Rubicon RAW, Swisspeak Resorts, Team Aker Daehlie and a strategic partnership with Apex2100 added to continuing support from brands including Snow+Rock, Fusalp and HealthKind to show that British skiers and snowboarders continue to emerge as one of the most exciting properties in the British sporting system.
Meanwhile, the GB Alpine Championships returned with outstanding performances from junior and senior athletes after an enforced two-year covid hiatus, while new advanced in sport science and medicine yielded important developments in the critical field of head injuries management.
But there’s only so long that we can avoid mentioning perhaps the moment that will most define British snowsport in 2022. The day in January when Dave Ryding, after years of graft and dedication, delivered the crowning moment in British Alpine skiing history by taking victory in the Kitzbuehel Slalom and showed the world that belief in British snowsport was no fleeting fancy, but a simple case of giving the best skiers and snowboarders in the world a platform to deliver performances that many believed were out of reach for British athletes.
Changing the game. Dave did it, and behind him stand dozens of athletes ready to do the same. For GB Snowsport and for the athletes, coaches, technicians, and team members competing under the banner it marks the next step in a truly special journey.
Header Image: Dave Ryding of Team Great Britain takes 1st place during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Men’s Slalom on January 22, 2022 in Kitzbuehel Austria. (Photo by Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)