Being announced as ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in 2020 was a huge honour and the opportunity to work more closely with the brilliant athletes and staff at GB Snowsport is something that I can’t wait for. As Head of Sport at the BPA I already work closely with each National Governing Body across many areas of Games planning but for me to have the chance to lead the team is a dream come true.
I’ve been lucky enough to attend five Paralympic Games in my career with the BPA and some of my fondest memories come from the Winter Games in Sochi and PyeongChang. Sochi was ground-breaking in so many ways with Jade Etherington and Caroline Powell becoming our most decorated Winter Paralympians, Kelly Gallagher and Charlotte Evans winning Great Britain’s first ever gold medal on snow and the hours of coverage on Channel 4. The ParalympicsGB team continued to be front page news in PyeongChang with record breaking performances from Menna Fitzpatrick and Jen Kehoe (including that incredible gold medal on the final morning of the Games), Scott Meenagh becoming our first Nordic Skiing athlete for 20 years and the selection of our first ever Snowboard athletes.
From a personal perspective, being one of the first people to speak to Kelly and Charlotte at the bottom of the slope after their gold medal run and getting the village cleaners to join in the celebrations in our apartment after Menna and Jen’s victory are moments that will stay with me forever. It is memories such as those along with the prospect of working with the exciting group of athletes we have aiming for selection in 2022 that makes me so excited to be Chef for the team in Beijing and I am determined to ensure that we continue to build on the momentum from the last two Games and help to make Great Britain a force to be reckoned with in Winter Para sport. We will take a team to Beijing that has extraordinary potential and I can’t wait to see what can be achieved by this group of athletes.
Beijing promises to be another magnificent Games – potentially the biggest ever in terms of athlete numbers – with more slots available than ever before for female athletes and gender parity in the number of medals available. The Games will be held across three competition zones with GB Snowsport athletes competing in Yanqing (Alpine Skiing) and Zhangjiakou (Nordic Skiing and Snowboarding). As Chef de Mission it’s my job (along with my brilliant team) to ensure that we create environments across all three villages that allow athletes and staff to thrive and produce personal best performances. We will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that we work with GB Snowsport staff and athletes over the next 365 days to make this the best prepared ParalympicsGB team ever to attend a Winter Games.
The current unique situation we all face with Covid-19 and the postponement of the Summer Games in Tokyo means that we will need to work harder than ever to ensure that we are ready for Beijing but we have spent the last six months at the BPA planning how we will deliver two Games within six months and that work will continue as we understand what Beijing will look like and any specific plans we need to put in place.
I know that representing ParalympicsGB is a burning ambition for all the GB Snowsport athletes, whether pulling on the tracksuit for the first time or if you’ve been to multiple Games and I look forward to being part of the athletes journey as we head towards Beijing 2022.
By Scott Meenagh, GB Snowsport Para Nordic Skier
I was introduced to the world of Para Nordic Skiing when spectating at the Sochi Winter Paralympic Games in 2014 where I was inspired by the skill and physicality of the Para Nordic skiers. I also loved the excitement of the racing. When I returned, I decided to turn my attention and focus to getting involved.
I love it that there’s a variety of physical and mental skills required to be successful in our sport. You need high levels of physical fitness as well as technical skiing skill and the ability to make good decisions under pressure, often at high speed. I also love the camaraderie between nations as we travel around the World Cup circuit and the incredible places we get to train and race around the world. No two days ever feel the same.
In terms of getting in the zone before events, I have found that the more relaxed I can be the better. I don’t get too pumped up before racing. I enjoy some good chat and a laugh with my teammates (and competitors) and keeping things nice and relaxed until it’s time to switch my focus. Normally once I’m on snow my focus begins to narrow.
The toughest athlete I’ve met is Oksana Masters from the USA, she inspires me every day. Her desire to win is like I’ve never seen. She is a true champion and I feel privileged to have witnessed some of her best recent performances. She is also a fantastic person off the snow and has a passion for helping others around her grow.
My favourite moment on snow has to be the 2018 World Championships, on final day I came 6th in the 15km Cross country race. The feeling when I was racing was so special. It was one of those days where everything fell into place. I felt brilliant throughout the race and the elation when I crossed the line knowing I’d given my very best that day was so special.
I would really encourage anyone interested in skiing to just get involved! Our sport is fantastic for competition but it’s also an amazing lifestyle sport and something that once you’ve tried it once, you’ll want to do forever. Remember to recognise the power of the journey and don’t too caught up focusing on results and end goals. The lessons you learn on the way are the most important.
By Steve Arnold, Para Nordic Athlete
“I’m not really one for films as I’m more into box sets but there are a few films I always go back to: Snatch, Topgun, Notting Hill, all of the Rambos and Rockies – plus Elf which is a must at Christmas.”
“I don’t really read many books but over lockdown I started getting into audiobooks with the focus of educating myself on sports recovery and how to be a better athlete. The last couple of books have been PEAK by Dr. Marc Bubbs and Good to Go by Christie Aschwanden. I find them good to listen to on long steady sessions or just when there’s some down time in the training. It’s definitely helped to up my learning game.”
“I’ll pretty much listen to any genre of music and it definitely depends on what session I’ve got to what I put on the playlist. If I’m on a 2-3hr steady roller ski, I like to have more chilled tunes on like Eric Clapton, The Eagles, James Blunt. I’ve even been known to bang on the odd Disney soundtrack now and then as it also helps me stay in zone and not get carried away, which is easy to do when a song with a beat kicks in.
In the gym recently it’s been Hip-Hop Rap mostly NWA or Dr Dre, The Chronic album and on my sprint/interval session anything with a beat goes. One of my favourites is David Guetta ‘just one last time’ as there’s a line in it that says ‘even though it hurts I can’t slow down’ which is very apt when your max out on a sprint or hills session.”
“Although there are many inspiring people out there, I get my inspiration from my family and friends. My daughter for instance – she is 2 years old and seeing her grow up and starting to become an incredible human inspires me to show her that the world can be tough but it can also be incredible no matter what it throws at you. I also have some amazing friends that have been as low as you can probably get, but over the years they have got their life back on track and done some incredible (if not a little crazy expeditions) to help themselves and others. To me, that is inspirational.”
“My favourite place is Fiji. I was lucky enough to go there a few years back with my wife and we will go back again one day. The people are so friendly the place is just paradise and when you’re on your down time from work or sport ‘Fiji Time’ is definitely the way to live your life.”