Making sure the athletes are well looked after extends across the whole performance team, no least to Ali Robb, Lead Physio for Ski and Snowboard Slopestyle, Big Air and Half-Pipe. Ali is an expert in the field of Physiotherapy with an impressive career in snowsport, so we know our freestyle athletes are in good hands.
What’s your background with physiotherapy?
“I was introduced to physiotherapy in my late teens due to suffering a hamstring injury which put me out of training and competing in my sport. I thought it would be a really interesting and rewarding job helping others in a similar position to get back to full fitness. I got the entrance qualifications and went straight from school to train in Aberdeen to become a Chartered Physiotherapist.
“I am lucky enough to have worked in snow-sport in some capacity for most of my career. I started working with the National alpine teams on a voluntary basis, expenses paid only, and I did this part-time for 5 years. I worked for over 10 years with the Ski rescue patrol in Cairngorm and a winter season doing the same in New Zealand. Working also in physio clinics, immersed me in the world of snowsport injuries, and gave me experiences that have been invaluable in my career. With the introduction of the National Lottery in the 90s and the creation of the National Institutes of Sport, there was injection of money to develop high performance sport, snowsport being one of those supported. I began working with half-pipe snowboard in 2002 and have supported Snowboard and then Freeski since then at numerous training camps and world events including three Olympic Winter Games, allowing me to meet and learn from many knowledgeable people along the way.
“Working in sport it is important to have a good knowledge and skill set to diagnose and treat injuries effectively. Having a good understanding of the demands the sport places on the body physically, physiologically and mentally is crucial in order to build preventative and rehabilitation programmes. Understanding the culture of the sport you are working in is of equal importance in order to build good working relationships with athletes and coaches and to allow you to be effective in your role.”
What are your main activities as a physiotherapist? How do you support the athletes and help them reach their goals?
“I am lead physio for Ski/Snowboard Slopestyle, Big Air and Half-Pipe. Prevention of injuries is our biggest and most important challenge. Every spring we profile the athletes and from this establish baselines, strengths and weaknesses and athlete programmes are made from the findings and then periodically re-assessed and adjusted as necessary. I work closely with the acrobatic/gymnastic coach and the strength and conditioning coaches. Regular communication between us and the athletes is key.
“I also (in a normal year) travel to many training camps and competitions, and where I cannot go, myself and the team managers organise other physiotherapy support for the athletes and I communicate closely with that physio so that important information is shared. Over the years I have been able to develop quite a network around the world, a couple of which we use regularly and have proved to be invaluable! The best scenario is that we as physios help prepare the athletes to be as physically ready as they can be, to enjoy a good session of training or competing. Often there are small aches and pains that we can help ease and manage with treatment and further injury is prevented. Occasionally, larger injuries occur and in these circumstances we are there to help make sure the athlete is evacuated safely from the mountain and that appropriate investigations are carried out and the injury is managed in a way to achieve the best outcome. This usually involves communication with the coaches, team Doctor, insurance companies, and families. With the more complicated injuries which require operations and rehabilitation back in the UK, I communicate closely with the athlete and team Doctor and we endeavour to set up the best surgeon and rehabilitation package to suit the injury and the individual needs of the athlete. I remain in close contact with the rehab team involved in the recovery process through the whole period of rehabilitation. Individual programmes are built and targets are set through all the stages of the rehab process until the athlete is ready to return to snow. Returning to snow for an athlete requires monitoring and TLC to some degree as it is impossible to absolutely replicate the forces on land that the athletes experience on snow. This is one of my favourite parts of the job.”
Most common injuries: “Knee injuries, back and neck injuries, concussion, shoulder injuries.”
Best part of my job as a physio: “Working with this team since 2012 I have thoroughly enjoyed supporting the athletes through thick and thin and seeing them grow and develop as people as well as in their sport. Also meeting and talking to really interesting people. I have been able to work in incredibly beautiful mountain environments and ski as part of my job. Very lucky.”
You can follow Ali on Instagram here.
Photo: Mia Brookes and Kirsty Muir hit a rail at SnoZone by Ben Kinnear
69 athletes competing across Freestyle, Freeski and Snowboard have been selected to represent Great Britain throughout the 2021/22 season.
The squads, which feature six athletes selected to represent the nation for the first time, will look to build on an outstanding 2020/21 season for British Freestyle, Freeski and Snowboard athletes which saw a number of exceptional results, including Charlotte Bankes’ Gold medal finish at the Snowboard Cross World Championships, Silver medals for Izzy Atkin at the X Games and for Kirsty Muir at the World Cup in Aspen, two Golds and a Silver for Mia Brookes in Europa Cup contests, Ollie Davies’ 4th placed finish at the World Championship Skicross in Idrefjall, Zoe Atkin’s World Cup silver and World Championship bronze medals, and three top-10 finishes for James Woods at the X Games in Aspen and the Aspen World Championships.
Athletes across Freestyle, Freeski and Snowboard were confirmed at a multi-discipline selection summit designed to ensure Britain is represented by more athletes with current and future podium hopes than ever before.
Announcing the Freestyle, Freeski and Snowboard Squad selections, Pat Sharples, GB Snowsport Head Coach, said:
“Never before has Britain had such a competitive field of athletes to select from. Despite the challenges faced by all of our athletes last season, they showed that they are capable of putting down world-leading results in some of the toughest competition environments around. Those results, and the squads we’re delighted to announce today, bode well for what promises to be a landmark year for snowsport.”
Gus Kenworthy, selected in the Freeski A Squad, said:
“It is always a privilege to be selected to represent your country, and I’m really looking forward to competing alongside some incredible athletes in all our Freestyle disciplines this year. With the Beijing Games coming up, we’re all super-focused on having the best seasons we can, and the support around the Freestyle squads means we’ve got a great chance to improve on what we achieved last season.”
Charlotte Bankes, Britain’s first Snowboarding World Champion, said:
“I can’t wait to get back out into competition this season as part of a group of incredible athletes representing Great Britain in the snowsports disciplines. Last year was obviously a real high point for me personally with great results for all of GB Snowsport, but neither I nor any of the team plan to take our foot off the gas at this stage. There’s some great talent across all of the squads with the best support around us we could hope for, and I’m sure we’ll be driving each other on towards our goals.”
FULL SQUAD LISTS
Moguls – World Cup Squad
Male: Will Feneley, Thomas Gerken Schofield, Matéo Jeannesson
Female: Leonie Gerken Schofield, Makayla Gerken Schofield, Skyler Nunn
Aerials – World Cup Squad
Ski Cross – World Cup Squad:
Oliver Davies, Emma Peters
Ski Cross – Europa Cup Squad:
Male: Gregory Baillie, Nicholas Bingham, Richard Goldsworthy, Sebastian Ison, Scott Johns, Owen Jones, Patrick Young
Female: Faith Davie, Alannah Lawrie, Claire Winthrop, Zoe Winthrop
Snowboard Cross – World Cup Squad
Male: Huw Nightingale
Female: Charlotte Bankes, Maisie Potter
Snowboard Cross – Europa Cup Squad
Male: Brandon Cain, Bryn Nicholas, Kyle Wise
Freestyle Snowboard – A Squad:
Male:Gabe Adams, Fin Bremner, Billy Cockrell, Glen Ironside*, Matt McCormick, Jamie Nicholls, Ethan Smith*
Female: Mia Brookes, Katie Ormerod
Freestyle Snowboard – B Squad:
Male: Koby Cook, Leon Drynan, Lenny Fenning, Kai Hamaini*, Teiva Hamaini*, Hayden Harvey-Smith, Max Jorge, Logan King, Charlie Lane, Lewis Moore, Liam Tynan, Siddhartha Ullah (Pipe)*
Female: Amber Fennell*
Freeski – A Squad:
Male: Tyler Harding, Gus Kenworthy (Pipe), Chris McCormick, James Woods
Female: Isabel Atkin, Zoe Atkin (Pipe), Connie Brogden (Pipe), Kirsty Muir, Madi Rowlands, Katie Summerhayes
Freeski – B Squad:
Male: Harris Booth, Rylan Evans, Mason Ferebee, Sam Gaskin (Pipe) Tom Greenway, Felix Klein, Jasper Klein, James Pouch, Justin Taylor-Tipton, Sam Ward (Pipe), Harry Wright
*denotes newly selected athletes
British student athletes are being encouraged to put themselves forward for selection for the 30th edition of the rescheduled winter fisu world university games in lucerne, switzerland this december
The Games, which is the largest global winter multi-sport event for student athletes, will see more than 2,500 athletes representing over 50 countries compete across 11 days from 11-21 December 2021 with the British team overseen by British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS). With an expected global audience of more than 300m viewers in over 100 countries, the World University Games have long played an important role in supporting up-and-coming athletes with high-level competition experience at a formative point in their careers.
Eligible British snowsport athletes interested in competing are now being asked to put themselves forward for selection across the following disciplines:
- Snowboarding (Slopestyle, Big Air, Parallel Grand Slalom, Parallel Slalom)
- Freestyle Skiing (Slopestyle, Big Air)
The following eligibility criteria apply for athletes seeking selection:
- Students who are currently officially registered as proceeding towards a degree or diploma at a university or similar institute, the states of which is recognised by the appropriate national academic authority of their country (athletes beginning their academic courses in September 2021 are eligible, so long as they meet the relevant age criteria), or former students of those institutions who have obtained their academic degree of diploma in the calendar year preceding the event
- Be at least 18 and no older than 25 years of age on 31 December 2021 (dates of birth between 01 January 1996 and 31 December 2003).
Applying athletes should note that the British team is run by BUCS and competition will cost athletes in the region of £1500, including coaching costs. Many individual University Sports Unions have traditionally offered grants to contribute to these costs, and we would encourage all interested athletes to communicate with their respective institutions to understand if this is the case prior to beginning the expression of interest process. The Games will take place between 11 and 21 December 2021.
Once athletes are selected, BUCS and GB Snowsport will work with the athlete to identify coaches of the appropriate standard to support their efforts at the event.
GB Snowsport Performance Criteria for selection to the World University Games can be found in the GB Snowsport Selection Policy.
Athletes who meet the above criteria are invited to express their interest to Mark Ritchie, GB Snowsport Head of Talent, by 12:00 on 23 July: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Athletes should state their University or Institution, Course and Year, Date of Birth, Event Disciplines and Coach Name and Contact Details in the first instance.
My best party trick is… “I can wiggle my ears.”
The geekiest thing about me is… “I am a Physics major at University.”
Tell me you’re a snowsports athlete without telling me you’re a snowsports athlete… “I’m willing to wake up at 5 am for powder turns.”
A shower thought I had recently… “Sand is called sand because it’s in between sea and land.”
Best dance move… “TikTok dances.”
When I’m not training or on snow you’ll find me… “Tearing up the trails on my bike.”
Guilty pleasure… “Cheese toastie.”
Best travel story… “Flying 1st class on British Airways upon return to UK from PyeongChang Olympics.”
Biggest fail… “My most recent concussion at X Games Aspen.”
Typical Sunday… “Skiing on a typical Sunday during the winters.”
Weirdest gift I’ve given or received… “An espresso maker.”
Two truths and a lie… “I was a snowboarder before turning to skiing, I broke my wrist mountain biking, I make bracelets during my free time.”
I won’t shut up about… “The latest crime novel I am reading.”
The pandemic has taught me… “how I missed traveling and made me conscious about other people’s germs.”
GB Snowsport today announce the team who will be selected to compete at the 2021 FIS Freestyle Ski, Snowboard and Freeski Junior World Championships in the Russian city of Krasnoyarsk.
Moguls – 21st – 22nd March
Ski Cross – 26th March
Snowboard Cross – 23rd March
Ski Cross Athletes selected but not attending due to Covid travel restrictions
Freestyle Snowboard BA/SS selected but not attending due to Covid travel restrictions
My best party trick is… “I can do a 3 leaf clover with my tongue.”
The geekiest thing about me is… “I love to read.”
Tell me you’re a snowsports athlete without telling me you’re a snowsports athlete… “I go to school in the summer instead of the winter.”
Best dance move… “None haha I can’t dance.”
When I’m not training or on snow you’ll find me… “Anywhere warm! A beach or lake preferably.”
Guilty pleasure… “Eating. Good food is the best (especially dessert).”
Biggest fail… “Spraining my ankle rock climbing on a hiking trip.”
Typical Sunday… “Skiing.”
Weirdest gift I’ve given or received… “A s’mores making kit.”
Two truths and a lie… “I have a tattoo, I graduated high school, sushi is my favourite food.”
I won’t shut up about… “How good the crepes I make are.”
The pandemic has taught me… “How to keep my own company.”
GB Snowsport is pleased to announce the squad which has been selected to compete at the 2021 FIS Freeski and Freestyle Snowboard World Championships in Aspen, USA from 10 March to 16 March
The squad includes three World Championship medallists, four World Cup winners, three X-Games medallists, six Olympians and one Winter Youth Olympic medallist.
Members of the freeski team, who are already out in Aspen training this week, include reigning Slopestyle World Champion James Woods, Izzy Atkin who won a ski slopestyle silver medal at the X Games in Aspen last month and Gus Kenworthy, an Olympic Silver medallist, and World Cup winner.
The snowboarders include 2020 Crystal Globe winner Katie Ormerod who has come back from injury, who in her last competition in Kreischberg came 8th and Gabe Adams who just came first at the Gotschen Europa Cup Big Air.
Sophie, Olympic Team Manager: “After a difficult season with changes to the competition calendar, we’re really happy to be able to compete in Aspen at the World Champs. A huge thanks goes to the organisers and FIS for helping make it happen. It’s been a difficult year for everyone, however we go into the Champs with a strong team, who are looking forward to flying the GB flag.”
GB Snowsport squad:
Freeski – Slopestyle & Big Air
Izzy Atkin – pending medical sign off
Freeski – Halfpipe
Freestyle Snowboard – Slopestyle & Big Air
The World Championships will be broadcast by BBC on the red button from 10th March – follow GB Snowsport social media channels for updates
Photo: James Woods Credit: X Games.
The geekiest thing about me is… “I am super interested in environmental science and climate change, and spend my free time learning about it.”
Tell me you’re a snowsports athlete without telling me you’re a snowsports athlete… “I would rather go on holiday to the mountains than the beach.”
A shower thought I had recently… “There is a different version of you that exists in the minds of everyone who knows you or knows of you.”
When I’m not training or on snow you’ll find me… “Taking my dog on a hike, at the gym, hanging out with friends, or doing school work.”
Guilty pleasure… “Scrolling through TikTok longer than I probably should.”
Best travel story… “In 2017 I won a trip down to Argentina during the summer doing big mountain skiing. It was an amazing experience and a culture shock to me.”
Typical Sunday… “If I am somewhere that has snow I am usually out skiing around with friends.”
Weirdest gift I have given or received… “A bag that looked like it came straight out of a cartoon.”
Two truths and a lie… “I used to play football in highschool, I can speak 4 languages, I used to snowboard.”
I won’t shut up about… “My Dog Cooper.”
The pandemic has taught me… “I am much more adaptive and flexible than I thought I was.”