Amid the Christmas and New Year festivities, British skiers and snowboarders were putting down some impressive results in the lead-in to an Olympic and Paralympic year

As the clock ticked over into 2022, 18-year-old Freeskier, Zoe Atkin, was adding to her already impressive body of results with a pair of top-10 finishes in Calgary World Cup. Her first, an eighth-place finish, came after she was forced to withdraw from the final having qualified in fifth after sustaining a cracked helmet in training. Having successfully come through required head injuries protocol assessments, she returned to land sixth place in the year’s first World Cup competition having qualified in third. The two results continue Atkin’s streak of top-10 World Cup finishes which now extend back to her very first World Cup competition in 2018, and includes two podium finishes in Copper Mountain and Aspen in 2019 and 2021.

Calgary also marked Connie Brogden’s return to snow for the 20-year-old’s first World Cup competitions since March, landing 20th and 22nd place Halfpipe finishes. Katie Ormerod took 23rd place in Snowboard Slopestyle and Sam Ward a brace of 26th place Freeski Halfpipe finishes rounded out British results in the Canadian resort.

Three-time Cross-Country Olympian, Andrew Musgrave, delivered one of his finest results in recent years at the third stage of the Tour de Ski in Oberstdorf, Germany, on New Year’s Eve, with a fourth-place finish in the 15km free, which saw him miss out on a podium place by just 1.6s.

In Alpine, Laurie Taylor secured World Cup points in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, with an excellent 25th-place finish amid an extremely strong field. Dave Ryding had seemed on course for another tilt at the top positions but was unfortunate to ski out in the second run having come through the first run in fourth place. Charlie Guest saw similar misfortune at World Cup Lienz in Austria after an excellent first run that saw her move into 14th place. Reece Bell, meanwhile, delivered an excellent World Cup debut finishing just 0.45s outside of qualification for the second round before suffering the agony of an ACL tear in training.

Britain’s leading Telemark skier, Jasmin Taylor, got her season back underway with third and fourth place finishes at the Meiringen National Championships in Switzerland. World Cup competition in Telemark resumes from mid-January in Samoens, France.

And finally, off the slopes, Para Alpine skier, Shona Brownlee, was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours lists, with her nomination citing her as an exemplary ambassador for the Royal Air Force. Brownlee was recently named in the British squad for the World Para Snow Sports Championships in Lillehammer, Norway, which get underway on 8 January.

The weekly GB Snowsport results summary is presented in association with Snow+Rock

Header Image: Andrew Musgrave, GEPA pictures/ Daniel Schoenherr

He’s a three-time Olympian and soon to be one of the stars of a new documentary on Norwegian TV. But as an introvert in the spotlight, Andrew Young won’t let anything distract him.

Catching up with Andrew Young, one of Britain’s top Nordic skiing talents and a member of the country’s three-man Elite squad in the discipline, talk turns to covid-19 and the experiences of training and competing in a covid-impacted world. Nothing too surprising in that – it was, after all, a major factor in almost every athlete’s experience of the past 18 months. What’s different, though, is the way that Young sees lessons from that time which could lead to long-term benefits.

“Better nutrition, better hygiene, less days off training because of illness,” he starts listing the positive outcomes of the more rigid training experience that pandemic management protocols required. “A lot of these things will stay in place as a routine in the team.” Take masks, for example. “I can’t ever imagine flying to a race or training camp without a mask now, even if they aren’t mandatory. It just makes sense. I don’t understand why we didn’t use them before.”

Young isn’t unaware of the additional stresses faced by many athletes during the time, but he’s full of praise for how the Nordic team were supported. “The team did a great job last season of keeping us healthy,” he says. “Cross country skiing is a hugely physically demanding sport, and if your body isn’t 100%, you’re not going to perform. So, actually, we found a lot of these things helped our performance.”

Did he miss the social side? Young answers carefully. “In a lot of ways, the rules actually made our lives a lot easier. I’m a bit of an introvert anyway, and now we weren’t allowed to be social. The only thing we could do was focus on training and competing.”

“Honestly,” he says, “it made my life easier. There was a lot less ‘noise’ going on.”

He may not be the man to raise the volume, but around Andrew Young and the Nordic team, there’s a lot of interest as the season begins to gear up.

Young, along with his Nordic squad teammates, is soon to be the focus of a new documentary for Norwegian broadcaster NRK, focusing on Britain’s underdog status, and the dedication shown by the squad in their efforts to overcome the odds. Far from a British Cool Runnings, though, early footage highlights the brutal physical demands of the Nordic discipline, and the clear punishment it enacts on its top athletes.

Young himself is no stranger to those physical demands of the sport, not least in the astonishing recovery from leg fracture to a return to competition in just four weeks last season. “The recovery was a bit of a rollercoaster!”, he explains. “There were definitely times where I had given up on competing again last season, and other times where I thought I could get back in really high-end physical condition. In the end, I was somewhere in between; I was able to race, but I’d lost too much form.”

It was a recovery process not helped by the impacts of covid – “it was probably at its worst in Trondheim at that point” – which left Young having to improvise. “Because of covid, I was struggling with gym closures and finding places to train. Luckily, I had some contacts which means I could borrow a spin bike, and get on a ski erg.”

After two weeks he was back on skis, and a further week on able to properly start using his leg again. Race readiness, though, proved elusive. “In the end I could ski okay,” he says, “but I’d probably lost too much time and intensity in training to be competitive. I raced at World Championships, but I was miles off the pace.”

For most people – even for most athletes – simply getting back to race fitness would be an achievement, but Young is a man whose focus is clearly on the front of the pack, not making up the numbers.

Though he’s yet to turn 30 (his birthday falling right in the middle of the Beijing Winter Olympic schedule), Young – like Nordic teammate, Andrew Musgrave – is on the cusp of his fourth appearance at the Winter Olympic Games. Describing his previous Olympic experiences as “a really mixed bag”, his self-analytical mindset comes to the fore again. And, while he acknowledges that in past Olympics he’s had “some performances that I’m really proud of”, he clearly feels obliged to mention some “awful races” too. Delving a little deeper, it’s apparent that the self-criticism comes from a belief that the best is yet to come.

“When I’m at my best, I’m capable of podiums in the World Cup,” he explains. “But I’ve not put that performance together in a championship yet.”

It’s a level of ability he insists sees in his teammates too. “Everybody in the squad is a world class skier on their day. We all bring slightly different strengths to the table, and we certainly have the capabilities and support to be competitive at the front end of the World Cup.”

And as for Beijing, and his fourth Olympic Games? “This season is all about the Olympics”, he admits. “I’m often in my best shape before Christmas, so we’ve made some changes this year to try and push that back to February.” He’s focused on the sprint discipline but doesn’t rule out his chances in the distance events either.  

And, hopefully this time, enjoying it. “Finding the balance of enjoy the experience and remaining focused on competing can be difficult at the Olympics”, he says. “Things will be different to normal, but that’s okay. Just focus on the few key things that are important for your performance.”

Nobody should be in any doubt about Andrew Young’s focus. He’s a man with both eyes on the finishing line.

Andrew Young Biography:

  • Born: 1992
  • Discipline: Nordic
  • Squad: Elite Squad
  • Hometown: Huntly, Scotland
  • Olympic Finishes: 2010 – 15km Individual (74th), Sprint (60th); 2014 – 15km Individual (37th), Sprint (42nd); 2018 – 15km Individual (57th), Sprint (46th), Team Sprint (12th)

Header Image: Andrew Young

A strong result for Freestyle Snowboarder Katie Ormerod, and Europa Cup podium finishes for two of the Para Snowboard squad headlined a busy weekend for Britain’s skiers and snowboarders

Freestyle Snowboarder Katie Ormerod notched her highest World Cup finish since February 2020 and her best Big Air result since August 2019 with fifth place at Steamboat World Cup on Saturday. Ormerod, making her first competition appearance of the 2021/22 season, banked a score of 112.75 bringing her in just ahead of Canadian Jasmine Baird, whose 111.75 was enough to secure her sixth place.

Ormerod was joined in Steamboat by fellow Brits Billy Cockrell, who claimed 34th spot in the men’s Freestyle Snowboard Big Air, James Woods and Chris McCormick (21st and 25th in men’s Freestyle Ski Big Air), and Izzy Atkin and Katie Summerhayes (16th and 23rd in women’s Freestyle Ski Big Air).

In Landgraaf, the Para Snowboard squad saw noteworthy Europa Cup Banked Slalom results for Nina Sparks (2nd) and Jon-Allan Butterworth (3rd) in the women’s and men’s competitions. At World Cup level, Owen Pick landed 4th and 5th placed finishes in the week’s two World Cup competitions, Ollie Hill a pair of 6th places, and James Barnes-Miller 5th and 6th.

Meanwhile, the Para Nordic squad were in action in Canmore, Canada, with Scott Meenagh (7th) and Steve Arnold (9th) both securing top-10 finishes in the Para Nordic World Cup.

Lloyd Wallace’s first Aerials World Cup of the season saw him land a 17th placed finish, while the GB Moguls Squad saw a number of post-injury returns at the World Cup, Ruka, with Tom Gerken Schofield, Makayla Gerken Schofield and Skyler Nunn all making their first appearances of the season. The pick of the results saw Leonie Gerken Schofield finish in 28th place in the women’s competition.

Andrew Musgrave secured another top-20 finish in the 15km F at the Cross Country World Cup in Lillehammer, coming in a little ahead of Russia’s Artem Maltsev who finished in 21st.

In Alpine, Victoria Palla added to her collection of podium finishes for the 2021/22 season, coming second in the National Junior Grand Slalom Race in Santa Caterina Valfurva, while Ted Slade also notched a National Junior Race podium with third place in Slalom in Passo Monte Croce.

The weekly GB Snowsport results summary is presented in association with Snow+Rock

Header Image: Katie Ormerod, Photo Credit: Matt McCormick

British athletes put a stamp on the new season with medal-winning performances across three continents

2021 Snowboard Cross World Champion, Charlotte Bankes, built on her superb 2020/21 season with a silver medal-winning performance in the discipline’s first World Cup race of the season in Secret Garden, Beijing. The competition, which acted as a test event for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, saw Bankes come in second behind Czechian Eva Samkova, and ahead of Italy’s Michela Moioli, having come through the qualification round in third position.

Maisie Potter, who also travelled as part of the British squad, came in just outside of the qualification spots for the final with a 29th place finish.

In their first competition weekend of the season, Britain’s Para Alpine squad returned an astonishing 10 medals from competitions in Canada and Austria.

Sit-skiers Shona Brownlee and Alex Slegg both delivered outstanding performances in the Nor-Am Cup in Panorama, Canada. Brownlee finished the weekend with a gold and two silver medals, while Slegg achieved an outstanding bronze in an incredibly strong men’s sit-ski field.

In Resterhohe, Austria, the Para Alpine Europa Cup meet saw Menna Fitzpatrick and guide Katie Guest secure two gold medals, Neil Simpson and guide Andrew Simpson bring home two silvers, and Millie Knight and Brett Wild finishing up with two bronze medals, the squad laying down a serious marker ahead of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.

In Alpine racing, Charlie Guest continued her fine start to the season with a 23rd place finish and more World Cup points at the Killington World Cup in the USA. Meanwhile, Britain’s Alpine FIS Squad put on a demonstration of their potential, with Tom Hudson and Sarah Woodward finishing in top spot in the men’s and women’s FIS races in Kaabdalis, Sweden, and Ted Slade and Jess Anderson banking silver and bronze medals respectively.

The weekend also saw the start of the Nordic season, with Britain’s Andrew Musgrave banking a 16th place finish and Andrew Young 32nd in the 15km F Pursuit at the Cross Country World Cup, in Ruka, Finland.

The weekly GB Snowsport results summary is presented in association with Snow+Rock

Header Image: Image shows Michela Moioli (ITA) and Charlotte Bankes (GBR), Snowboard Cross World Championships, Idre, Sweden – Feb 2021. Photo: GEPA pictures/ Daniel Goetzhaber

the second major alpine weekend of the season saw billy major return to the slopes, and charlie raposo take home the first world cup points of his career

Despite missing out on the knock-out round by just 3/100ths of a second, Charlie Raposo’s promising start to the season continued with a 17th place finish in the Parallel Giant Slalom World Cup race in Lech / Zuers, Austria. The result, which saw Raposo bank the first World Cup points of his career, came after he shaved an enormous 25 places off his previous visit to Lech / Zuers in November 2020.

Fellow Alpine World Cup squad member, Billy Major, experienced his first taste of Parallel GS at World Cup level coming in in 49th position, with a net time of 47.54.

The next races in the Alpine calendar will see Charlie Guest compete at the Levi World Cup on the weekend of 20-21 November, while the Cross Country season gets underway with FIS races in Beitostolen, Norway, from 19-21 November. The Freestyle Snowboard squad will be in Europa Cup action in Landgraaf, Netherlands on 19 November, while the Freeski World Cup in Stubai gets underway on the same day.

The weekly GB Snowsport results summary is presented in association with Snow+Rock

Header Image: LECH,AUSTRIA,14.NOV.21 – ALPINE SKIING – FIS World Cup Lech/ Zuers, parallel giant slalom, men. Image shows Charlie Raposo (GBR). Photo: GEPA pictures/ Thomas Bachun

From putting in work with the bench press to spending time watching YouTube Yoga, Nordic skier James Clugnet keeps himself busy during the off-season months.

What’s your usual diet like while training during the off-season? 

“Eat lots of cheese, cakes and sweets and anything I try not to eat during the season.”

What’s your favourite quick and easy healthy meal/snack? 

“Carrots, got into it after hanging out with Muzzy who is definitely part rabbit.”

What’s your typical workout routine in the off-season?

“In the off season, I very often do a bit of Yoga following the instructions of random buddha girls/guys on YouTube. A healthy mind in a healthy body, usually I’m so stiff that I feel a bit sick by the end of it.”

What’s your favourite exercise and why? 

“I love doing bench press, mostly because when you are not doing the exercise you can just lie down and chill in the middle of the gym without looking really strange.”

Any tips for someone wanting to get active during the off-season? 

“Don’t force yourself to do something you hate, if you want to be active find a few friends that are motivated and do a sport that you enjoy doing. Go play beach volleyball regularly with your friends for example, it will never feel like a chore to go out and train and you reach your activity goals easily. The reason I can train almost a 1000h a year is because I love every hour of it.”

As a man of many responsibilities, Cross Country coach Jostein Vinjerui works to manage the GB Snowsport Cross Country team and keep the athletes moving forward throughout the season. 

How and why did you get into coaching?

“I used to be a skier myself and competed on national junior level in Norway. My best result was 8th place in national junior champs, but realized I would never be among the best in the world. So then I quit and had some years away from the sport, but when I worked as a police officer in Tromsø, one of my older colleagues knew I had been skiing and encouraged me to coach in his local club. I started up with 12-13 years old kids and gradually developed until I started with the regional team of North Norway in 2012/13 with the best skiers up there.

“I got into coaching because I have always had a huge passion for sport and especially Cross Country skiing. That, combined with the fact that I like to teach and lead, I find, is as good combination. The fact that I never felt “done” as an athlete gives me a lot of motivation and drive to fulfill the potential of the athletes I’m coaching.”

What are your main responsibilities as a coach?

“Many things fall under my responsibilities, but I’m lucky to have a co-coach with me, Hans Kristian Stadheim, and we share them between us. My main responsibility is managing the team, staying a couple of months ahead of the rest to make sure that our plans and logistics are working. I also of course do coaching with the athletes, making training programmes together with them, working with technical issues, and so on.”

How important is the mental/psychological side of coaching in a modern athlete’s development?

“It is very important. An athlete who does not have the right state of mind will find it hard to be at his/her best. I have always been focused on this since I learned quite a lot about it working as a police officer. Visualisation, mental training, talking about scenarios/tactics and debrief races/sessions to find learning points.” 

How is the new generation of athletes’ expectations of coaching different from what was expected 10 years ago?

“The basics in the work as a coach has not changed that much. It is still about planning, doing, reviewing and do it again. The athletes we have in our team are not much different in that sense from how it was 10 years ago. 

“We have an experienced team now with lots of knowledge about training and Cross Country skiing, so that makes them in one way in general more demanding and they ask more questions about why we are doing this and that. For me, that is a positive development, they are among those who push and develop me as a coach as well.

“The access to facts is better because of internet development, but as coaches now we have to make the athletes be critical of what kind of facts they find and what sources to use.”

Is analysing competition/training footage useful for athlete improvement and development? If so, has tech like mobile phones and drones made this easier?

“The mobile phone is used a lot. That is the one I use to film in training. This has changed a lot since 10 years ago when we had to carry a video recorder with us all the time and connect it to a TV or a computer. Today I just film with my phone and airdrop it to my Mac and send it to the team through WhatsApp.”

What was the biggest challenge coaching athletes during the most restricted moments last year? How did you manage to maintain a coaching approach with athletes during lockdown?

“The way we are working did not change too much. The only thing we really could not do was the summer roller ski competitions and altitude training abroad. The team is based in Norway, so we could do a normal set up with camps there and most of the WC-season was done like normal. The ones who suffered the most were the kids and youths who had much tougher restrictions than us.”

You can follow Jostein on Twitter and Instagram.

What’s your usual diet like while training during the off-season? 

“During the start of the off-season I’m fairly relaxed about my diet. I eat what I like when I like. But I try to get enough carbs before a big training session and enough fruit and veg. As we get closer to the winter, my diet gets stricter and stricter. Then I have planned meals before certain training sessions where we are focused on getting the nutrients I need.”

What’s your favourite quick and easy healthy meal/snack? 

“I make a big pot of porridge for breakfast and often have the left overs as a snack. I change up my toppings on the porridge. Yogurt, frozen or fresh berries, fruits, nuts, honey and sometimes maple syrup. I pick and choose!”

 
What’s your typical workout routine in the off-season?

“A lot of endurance work! Over 75% of my training is made up of easy distance training. Simply putting the hours in and building a base. I’ll have 3 hour running sessions and 3 – 4 hour rollerski sessions. Once a month I do a 6 hour session. 

“The other 25% of training is high intensity work, sprint work and strength training. 

“A standard interval I have is 6x10min at lactate threshold. In the breaks we measure lactate and get feedback on technique. 

“In the gym we focus mainly on being explosive and building speed for a sprint finish. So I rarely lift more than 5 reps. A typical plan would be, squats, bench press, pull ups, hamstring curls. 3 sets of 3-5 reps on a heavy load. Then we finish the season with a core circuit.”

What’s your favourite exercise and why? 

“Seated row – great for skiers, gets the triceps and the core!”

Any tips for someone wanting to get active this summer? 

“Get outside! Enjoy your local surroundings and enjoy being outside. Go for a run or bike ride or a walk!”

Hear from GB Snowsport Cross Country Wax Tech Magnus Björk on the process of waxing skis and the knowledge you need to get the job done.

How and why did you get into waxing?

“After stopped competing myself I started to help my home ski club with ski tests/waxing. I really liked it and now it’s has been profession since 2012.”

What are the main duties of a wax technician?

“Waxing, testing, supporting!”

What is the full process of waxing and how long does it take to get the athletes ready? Does wax need to be tailored to each individual athlete?

“The “Full process” is the base first then the main wax, finishing off with top and manual structure. You want to have 30-45 min to get it done well. The goal is to use the same wax on every athlete’s skis, with an extra twist for each individual…”

What kind of knowledge do you need to do the job well?

“Skiing experience helps, and knowledge of how to make the skis fast!”

How do you adapt to different snow parameters and weather conditions around the world?

“The best way is to trust measurements and do ski tests and my experience from previous years helps.”

How much does waxing impact an athlete’s performance? Can it make or break a podium finish?

“Quite a lot, especially in wet conditions. And the short answer is yes it can make or break a podium finish.”

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