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

snowsport scotland and gb snowsport are pleased to announce the appointment of euan bennett as our new para alpine pathway Coach.

Euan is currently working as a Project Manager for sports and events company, DB Schenker. Prior to this employment, Euan was employed by GB Snowsport from 2011 – 2018.

During his time at GB Snowsport, Euan held a number of roles, including the Development and Performance Pathway Manager, Para Alpine Team Head Coach and Development Head Coach.

Euan has been involved in the last two Paralympic Winter Games; as the Team Leader for Alpine and Snowboarding at Pyeongchang, and as an Alpine Coach at Sochi. Additionally, Euan worked as a Venue Logistics Manger at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Snowsport Scotland and GB Snowsport are thrilled to announce Euan ‘s appointment and look forward to him commencing his new role on the 13th of December 2021.

Header Image: Para Alpine Guide, Gary Smith training in Saas Fee, photo by Marc Amann.

Ahead of the Para Alpine season starting next week with the NorAm in Panorama, we sat down with some of the Para Alpine squad members to talk about training, unwinding, and thoughts on the start of the season with Beijing 2022 on the horizon. 

Katie Guest – Para Alpine Guide

How did you keep yourself busy, fit, and entertained during the summer, any highlights?

“So, with lockdown on there wasn’t much we could really do, and I actually have a university degree to do so I spent quite a lot of time studying, and then in the time out I had I went to the park and bought a pair of rollerblades. Jo, my coach, said what a terrible idea that was, so they got sent back quite quickly but apart from that actually just getting out in the hills. I was really lucky to have my family around, I spent a lot of time with them.”

How’re you feeling about the season starting, particularly given that Beijing 2022 is on the horizon, are you doing anything different to prepare?

“I am quite new to the programme actually, so it’s all new at the minute. But training is going really well, I’ve built up a really good relationship with my athlete, Menna Fitzpatrick, and I’m super excited to be skiing again, it’s so good to be back out in the mountains. So, we’ll just keep on with what we’re working on and see how it goes.”

You’ve mentioned lockdown and covid, the team’s resilience has been pretty clear over the last season and year, is there anything in particular you’ve learnt from the last 18 months and are you going to take that into the coming season?

“I think over lockdown, it taught me that you’ve got to take opportunities when they come. So I think for any opportunity that comes, you’ve got to go with it and give it your best shot because they don’t come around that often. So, in terms of resilience, I would say keep going with what you’re doing and stay strong, keep carrying on enjoying skiing.”

Blake Williams – Para Alpine Coach

What do you do to unwind when you’re away on training camps and at competitions?

“Good question. So when I’m on my own, things like Netflix, Amazon Prime, watching a TV series, they’re brilliant for burning time. With the team, we like to play cards, monopoly deal, chess, those sorts of things. I prefer to spend the time with the team so that we build up a bit of a rapport.”

You coach a variety of different alpine disciplines, how to do prepare the athletes for each and do you have a preference and why?

“Yes, I have a preference. I prefer the Slalom and GS disciplines, the more technical disciplines. I have a personal interest in those. I like to play with the tactics and techniques and various different aspects of those disciplines, but certainly do train other disciplines as well, Super G and even Downhill. They take a little more thought on the safety side than slalom and GS do. I enjoy all of them, but I prefer Slalom and GS.”

The GB Snowsport Para Alpine team have had some new sponsors come onboard this season, what does their support mean to you and the team?

“It’s massive, it allows the team to exist and by this team existing, it can inspire the next generation of skiers.”

Adam Hall – Para Alpine Guide

What does it mean to you to represent Great Britain on the slopes?

“It’s an honour, it’s been a childhood dream my whole life and now it’s happened it’s, yeah, still a little bit surreal.”

What do you to unwind when you’re away on training camps and at competitions?

“My favourite thing to do is basically spend time with the team and we play games, card games and monopoly and even serious monopoly, so that’s hours and hours and one of my favourite things to do.”

You compete and guide in a variety of disciplines for Alpine, how do you prepare for each, do you have a preference and why?

“Preparing for each discipline is the hard bit about the job. You’ve got to stay fit, strong, and then mentally strong to different sessions and different days and go from slower speeds with Slalom in technical to Downhill which is fast. I am more of the technical sort of guy, built for smaller events.”

Shona Brownlee – New Para Alpine Squad Member (Sitski)

How did you keep yourself busy, fit, and entertained this summer, were there any highlights?

“I took up triathlon quite recently, so I spent a lot of time cycling and running, which helps with my ski fitness well.”

What does it mean to you to represent Great Britain on the slopes?

“It’s a huge honour, it’s come as a bit of a surprise to me. It was never anything I intended to do when I was growing up. Skiing is quite a new thing for me, but I’m just really enjoying it.”

We’ve seen a lot of examples over the past year of athletes and sports stars becoming more vocal about social issues that concern them and within snowsport we’ve seen the british governing bodies making steps forward on issues like diversity and inclusion within the sport. As an athlete what’s your take on that?

“I think within para sports, inclusion is quite a big thing anyway because there’s such a range of people with different impairments such as people with spinal cord injuries, visual impairments, physical impairments and they all compete on the same stage, so it’s a big thing.”

Neil Simpson Para Alpine Skier

How’re you feeling about the season starting, particularly given that Beijing 2022 is on the horizon, are you doing anything different to prepare?

“No, just trying to get into training and working on the same technical focusses that we had and try and keep my mind off Beijing and just treat it as a normal race and normal series and just keep working away at it.”

What do you do to unwind when you’re away on training camps and competitions?

“I like to watch Netflix and YouTube and then also with the team, we play some card games like Monopoly Deal.”

GB Snowsport’s Para Alpine team have had some new sponsors come on board this season, what does their support mean to you and the team?

“It means a massive amount as it means we can actually come out here and train and it gives us that bit more to actually go and improve the quality of training and helps push us forward to achieving what we want to achieve in the competitions coming this season.”

Andrew Simpson – Para Alpine Guide

How did you keep yourself busy, fit and entertained during the summer, any highlights to mention?

“Not much changed during the summer really, just the usual, training in the gym regularly, trying to spend time with family when I can, but apart from that nothing different.”

We’ve seen a lot of examples over the past year of athletes and sports stars becoming more vocal about social issues that concern them and within snowsport we’ve seen the British governing bodies making steps forward on issues like diversity and inclusion within the sport. As an athlete what’s your take on that?

“I think within para snowsports there’s a lot of diversity going on anyway, but I think it’s definitely a big issue within the wider population too.”

What does it mean to you to represent Great Britain on the slopes?

“It’s a huge honour, I mean myself and Neil have been skiing together from a young age, so to be able to get right to the top and represent the country is brilliant.”

Paralympic medal winning Alpine skier Kelly Gallagher MBE has announced her retirement, bringing to a close a glittering 12-year career at the highest levels of the sport.

Gallagher has been a fixture in international Alpine Skiing for more than a decade, representing Britain at three Paralympic Winter Games and became the nation’s first ever Winter Paralympic Gold medallist at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Awarded an MBE in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to sport for people with a visual impairment, Gallagher retires having secured four silver and five bronze medals in World Championships, spanning her first ever World Championship medals at Sestriere in 2011 to her final podium places at the 2019 Sella Nevea/Kranjska Gore World Championships.

Announcing her retirement, Kelly Gallagher MBE said:

“Making the decision to call an end to my competitive career before Beijing 2022 has come as an unexpected but delightful detour from my planned retirement season. I hope to be welcoming our 2nd baby into the world in the same month as the Paralympic Winter Games and so this is the right time to announce my retirement. 

“It’s been the adventure of a lifetime to ski race at the highest level for the past 11 years, during which I’ve achieved more than I could have hoped for or imagined, not least the honour of becoming Britain’s first ever Winter Paralympic Gold medallist in 2014. I’m immensely proud of everything I’ve achieved in my career, from my first ever season on the circuit in 2009/10 to my final medals in 2019.

“Through that time, I’ve enjoyed invaluable support from Sport Northern Ireland, UK Sport and GB Snowsport, all of whom have played been so important in helping me to achieve everything I’ve worked so hard for. Thank you to the many coaches, sport psychologists, physiotherapists, ski technicians, strength and conditioning coaches, and support staff who have worked with me over the years and tears.

“I’ve also had the fortune to work with some phenomenal guides in Charlotte Evans, Claire Robb and Gary Smith and more; I’ll be eternally grateful for their expertise and the personal sacrifice of their time and effort in order for me to reach my potential on the slopes.

“Finally, I must thank my family and friends for their unstinting love, care and understanding over the past decade. For always believing in me and caring for all the many injuries and doubts I had over the years.

“I will miss enormously the camaraderie and the intensity that comes with being a part of the elite sport world, and I wish all of my teammates, the coaches, and the whole Para Snowsport movement the very best of luck in the season to come. Although I won’t be out there with them this year, I’ll be cheering them on from back home.”

Vicky Gosling, GB Snowsport Chief Executive, said:

“The impact that Kelly has had on British skiing simply cannot be overstated. As our country’s first ever Gold medallist at the Winter Paralympic Games, she helped to show that British athletes can and should be competing at the highest levels of the sport. As a nation, we are incredibly fortunate to have had her compete in our colours. I, and the whole of GB Snowsport, wish her all the best in her retirement.”

Jayne Kavanagh, GB Snowsport Head of Paralympic Programme, added:

“Everyone in the Alpine system will greatly miss Kelly in her retirement. For over a decade she has been a fixture in the country’s World Class programme, and nobody will ever forget the impact she’s made on the sport. I’m certain that her influence will continue to be felt for many years to come.”

Kelly Gallagher MBE – Career Highlights

  • 2011 Sestriere World Championships – Silver (Slalom), Bronze (Giant Slalom)
  • 2013 La Molina World Championships – Silver (Super-G), Silver (Super Combined), Bronze (Downhill), Bronze (Giant Slalom)
  • 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Games – Gold (Super-G)
  • 2019 Sella Nevea/Kranjska Gora World Championships – Silver (Downhill), Bronze (Super-G), Bronze (Super Combined)

What does it take to coach some of the world’s most successful Para-Alpine athletes? Scott MacBain reveals all in our latest Team Behind the Team blog.

How and why did you get into coaching?

“I became involved in coaching very early on in my own ski racing career, in fact I had been coaching alongside my own involvement as an athlete for 6 years before deciding to begin a full time coaching role. It was actually a recommendation from my first ever coach to sign up to gain a qualification through Snowsport Scotland, as he thought it would improve my own technical understanding, and it did.”

What are your main responsibilities as a coach?

“The main responsibilities of a coach as I see it are to nurture enthusiasm and guide discovery. It’s a bit of a cliché, but a lot of coaches will say, “if only I knew what I know now when I was still racing”. With that in mind, I feel like passing on knowledge and experience to young athletes is vital to the progress of UK ski racing.”

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

“It’s huge, in my opinion it’s the most important of all the various aspects of ski racing. We have had basic forms of psychology for a number of years now with the likes of visualisation and setting routine. However, applied psychology towards ski racing in particular is relatively new in my opinion. I believe that psychology plays an even more potent role with Brits in skiing as we are always playing away from home so to speak.”

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

“10 years ago, the coach-athlete relationship was certainly a little different to the way it is today. In my opinion, the main change that I have seen is that there is a lot more give and take between coach and athlete now than there was before. I think that in years gone by, coaches were typically a lot more hard line and direct in their approach and communication. These days we tend to be a little more understanding of the softer skills required when working with athletes, particularly youngsters.”

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

“Yes! It is exponentially easier to demonstrate to athletes correct movement patterns now through technology than it was before. I remember sitting at home watching VHS recordings of guys like Thomas Grandi and Bode Miller and would attempt to pause at exactly the right moment to analyse the various turn phases and positions. Nowadays, there are as many media platforms as there are videos captured from every possible angle to choose from. In fact, we coaches can now film an athlete’s run in 4K, and send the footage straight to their phone for them to analyse on the chair lift!”

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?

“I believe that the biggest challenge last year was the continually changing rules that we needed to adapt to. One particular scenario springs to mind where had just arrived in Austria to prepare for races in Switzerland. The original plan had been to train in Austria before moving across to St. Moritz in Switzerland for the races and at the time of travel, this was within the rules. However, the rules changed the day after arriving and myself and Hammy Morison, a fellow coach, sat in a supermarket carpark outside Innsbruck and re-wrote the entire programme! It wasn’t always ideal but it meant we all had to be adaptable and truly think on our feet which, I believe, has only made us better coaches.”

GB Snowsport are delighted to confirm French luxury brand, Fusalp, will be the new official kit suppliers to Britain’s Alpine and Para-Alpine squads.

The deal, which runs until May 2024, will see British Alpine and Para-Alpine athletes kitted out with the brand’s pioneering skiwear.

With the benefit of their 70 years of heritage and expertise, Fusalp has created a series of bespoke, high-performance outfits to be worn by British Alpine athletes in competition and training, offering state-of-the-art aerodynamic qualities and sport-leading movement capabilities.

As the official kit supplier, Fusalp will work with each member of the squad to develop kits adapted to their specific needs, helping athletes to achieve their best results on the slopes while exhibiting the brand’s signature bold aesthetics and clean, precise lines.

A partnership forged in heritage and innovation

Announcing the partnership, Vicky Gosling, GB Snowsport Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to welcome Fusalp to the GB Snowsport family ahead of a pivotal year for our phenomenal Alpine and Para Alpine athletes.

“This is a partnership forged in heritage and in innovation; values which both GB Snowsport and Fusalp hold in high regard. With Fusalp’s support, we will look to go further than ever before and to put down a real marker for British Alpine skiing in the years ahead.”

Fusalp CEO, Alexandre Fauvet, added: “Fusalp’s dedication to creating innovative, highly technical, yet functional garments for the British Alpine and Para-Alpine squads will help elevate them to new heights, in their quest to quality and represent their country in the pinnacle of the sport, the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.”

Big ambitions for the coming year

The kit collection, which includes both performance and urban ready-to-wear capsules, will feature dynamic graphics and colour ranges, with a nod to Great British heritage. The kits worn by team members will combine innovative high-performance fabrics and Fusalp’s world-recognised style and elegance.

Alpine World Cup squad member, Dave Ryding said: “This is really exciting news coming on the eve of a really important season for the whole of the British Alpine and Para Alpine squad. We all have big ambitions for the coming year, and this partnership will really help us to make the most of the opportunities ahead of us. I can’t wait to get out on the slopes in our new Fusalp kit and show the world what we’re capable of.”

GB Alpine Men’s World Cup Squad athletes wearing the new Fusalp x GB Snowsport Alpine kit
#GBSnowsportxFusalp #BackInTheRace #DressToWin

Header Image: Charlie Raposo wearing the new Fusalp x GB Snowsport Alpine kit. Image by Amarcster Media.

As the off-season comes to an end, Para Alpine Guide Brett Wild lets us know what he gets up to in his strength & conditioning sessions every week.

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

“I find it much easier to control my diet off season due to being able to prepare my meals and have control over what I cook/ eat compared to being away in hotels for the majority of the season. I use the time at home to try local restaurants in Glasgow with my fiancée when she is off work.”

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

“My favourite snack is a protein smoothie. I make this with 200ml of almond milk, 1 scoop of strawberry protein powder and 150g of frozen fruit.”

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

“My typical workout routine in the off season is three strength sessions a week (around two hours long) on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I also do three conditioning sessions (high intensity workouts) three times a week on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. I also run twice a week as well as cycling to and from the gym for each of my sessions. I do two yoga sessions a week for flexibility as well as four pilates sessions. 

“A specific strength session will include two lower body exercises, a full body pull, three upper body and finish with core circuit – example being:

  • Back squats: 10 reps x 4 sets
  • Deadlift: 10 reps x 4 sets
  • Clean: 5 reps x 4 sets
  • Pull ups: 10 reps x 4 sets
  • Bench press: 10 reps x 4 sets
  • Bent over rows: 10 reps x 4 sets 
  • Single leg hamstring raises on bench: 8 reps x 4 sets
  • Barbell roll outs: 6 reps x 4 sets
  • Sit up with twist: 10 reps each side x 4 sets
  • Toes to bar: 10 reps x 4 sets”

What’s your favourite exercise and why? 

“My favourite exercise is conditioning. I really enjoy pushing myself to the absolute maximum. It doesn’t feel great at the time but I love the feeling I have for the rest of the day!” 

Any tips for someone wanting to get active? 

“My main tips would be to take the first step, find a local gym or activity centre and get yourself down there. These places are a great place to socialise as well as get fit.”

Paralympic medallists Menna Fitzpatrick, Millie Knight and Kelly Gallagher joined by seven new athletes in 22 person Para Snowsport squad for 2021/22 season

Britain’s World Class Para Snowsport squad for the 2021/22 season has been confirmed today by GB Snowsport with Paralympic legends and experienced world-class athletes joined by a host of new talent in the nation’s largest ever World Class Programme squad for Para Snowsports.

Paralympic medallists Menna Fitzpatrick, Kelly Gallagher, Millie Knight and World Cup Winner Neil Simpson are joined by new selections Shona Brownlee and Dan Sheen in the Para Alpine squad alongside invitational athlete, Alex Slegg, with all three new selections competing in sit ski disciplines – making this season the first time that GB will have sit ski representatives since the Para Snowsport programme was taken over by GB Snowsport. Three new Para Alpine guides join the squad ranks for the first time, with Lachlan Veitch, Adam Hall and Katie Guest joining returning names in Gary Smith, Brett Wild and Andrew Simpson.

The Para Nordic squad remains unchanged from the 2020/21 season with Scott Meenagh, Callum Deboys, Steve Arnold and Steve Thomas all selected to represent the Great Britain in the year ahead.

In Para Snowboard, talent transfer Jon-Allan Butterworth is named in the Para Snowboarding squad, having announced his retirement from Para Cycling in January, where he will compete alongside James Barnes-Miller, Owen Pick, Andy Macleod and Ollie Hill, who joins up with the squad for the first time.

Pat Sharples, GB Snowsport Head Coach, said:

“We’re delighted to be able to announce such a strong Para Snowsport squad to represent Britain in the coming season – the biggest ever Para Snowsport World Class Programme in the nation’s history. Having so much Paralympic experience in the ranks is a huge benefit to the whole squad and we’re excited by what we will be able to achieve over the next twelve months.

“Across the world, the competitiveness of Para Snowsport is growing every year, and with this squad we believe Britain can hold its own in the biggest competitions.”

Menna Fitzpatrick, four-time Paralympic medallist and member of the Para Alpine squad, said:

“I’m really looking forward to getting underway with the new season. We’ve got a great team this year, and after a frustrating year for all of us in 2020/21 we’re all really looking forward to getting back out on the slopes, putting in some big results and focusing in on the Paralympic Winter Games in March.”

Para Alpine

Shona Brownlee*, Menna Fitzpatrick, Kelly Gallagher, Millie Knight, Dan Sheen*, Neil Simpson, Alex Slegg**

Para Alpine Guides

Katie Guest*, Adam Hall*, Andrew Simpson, Gary Smith, Lachlan Veitch*, Brett Wild

Para Nordic

Steve Arnold, Callum Deboys, Scott Meenagh, Steve Thomas

Para Snowboard

James Barnes-Miller, Jon-Allan Butterworth*, Ollie Hill*, Andy Macleod, Owen Pick

* denotes newly selected athletes

** denotes invitational athlete

As one of the newer coaching additions to the GB Snowsport team, Para Alpine coach Blake Williams lets us know how he keeps the athletes engaged while also improving overall performance.

How and why did you get into coaching?

“As soon as I started working in snowsport, I immediately realised I preferred working at the performance end of skiing where I work with committed people that have the desire to improve. Initially, I worked with junior skiers in France, these were ski club children from the UK that were on ski holidays with their families. This then evolved into coaching role for the last 10 years working with juniors, FIS, masters and ski instructors working towards their race exams.”

What are your main responsibilities as a coach? 

“To help find ways to improve performance. This includes creating a positive training environment where people want to be, setting up the sessions with a goal in mind, providing feedback and helping development. There is an ongoing and constant collaboration with the athletes, discussing future targets to help plan future training.”

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

“I would say it’s very important! Learning what your ideal performance state is and then learning how to put yourself into that frame of mind for learning and competition is a skill that has to be worked on. I’m not old enough to tell you how it was 30 years ago but certainly in the modern age at the top levels of all sport it is taken seriously with sport psychologists having a part to play in most teams.”

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

“Essential, I tend to use a camera/tablet combination that we can use to do video feedback. This is a portable setup which means it can be used on the mountain mid-way through sessions. This has significantly improved the quality of feedback and the speed at which it can be given and has therefore helped to increase productivity during sessions.”

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? 

“I wasn’t with the GB Snowsport team last year so can’t comment too much on the challenges that the team faced. From my own experiences the challenges were the complex travel arrangements, understanding the impact of Brexit, resort operating restrictions (3 days per week) and keeping moral high. Everyone realised the situation was tough, but we made the most of the resources we had. I left the day-to-day coaching to our coach based in France who was excellent at keeping moral high and staying in communication. We couldn’t select our days off, we could only ski 3 days per week, so we had to make the most of every one of those. That meant looking ahead, making plans with bad weather contingencies. We liaised almost daily, on planning, video review and how to progress.”

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