GB Snowsport have today (4 August 2022) issued the following statement
In light of July’s announcement by UK Sport regarding investment into GB Snowsport for the Milan-Cortina Olympic and Paralympic cycle, we have had to communicate the deeply disappointing news to our Alpine, Cross-Country and Para Nordic athletes that UK Sport have deemed the three disciplines to not be investible for World Class Programme funding.
While all three disciplines have been named for potential funding at national squad level, and UK Sport have ringfenced a minimal amount of programme funding for the Men’s Slalom programme and for Para Nordic, neither investment level is sufficient to sustain elite performance at the levels required.
This is a heavy blow to athletes, coaches, technical staff, and GB Snowsport employees who have shown enormous dedication in their efforts to grow Britain’s standing in Alpine, Cross-Country and Para Nordic skiing, not least through the exceptional on-snow performances of so many of those athletes over the past two seasons.
As a Governing Body, we have worked tirelessly to protect the continued development of our Alpine and Nordic programmes, and we fundamentally disagree with the decision not to invest further into those disciplines, particularly at a time when athletes in all three areas have been delivering some of Britain’s greatest ever results on the snow.
We are now urgently exploring all other options to continue these programmes, including new commercial partnerships, reducing costs throughout the organisation, and seeking greater efficiencies within our programmes, but we do anticipate that difficult decisions will need to be made in the coming weeks. Additionally we will be appealing against the UK Sport decisions, and will want to understand relative comparisons of funding support for other sports, whether Winter or Summer, Olympic or Paralympic.
We also know that this will be extremely dispiriting for everybody who supports and is involved with British Alpine, Cross-Country and Para Nordic Skiing at every level. We feel it is important to take this opportunity to reaffirm our continued belief in the internationally competitive potential of all three disciplines and our commitment to exploring every avenue available to us.
We are grateful to UK Sport for their continued support of our other disciplines, and expect to be able to build on the success demonstrated on snow over the past four years.
IN RESPONSE TO THE DECISIONS OF THE IPC, FIS, AND IBU TO TRANSFER INTERNATIONAL GOVERNANCE OF THE PARA SNOWSPORT DISCIPLINES, GB SNOWSPORT HAVE COMMENDED THE STRATEGIC THINKING OF THE THREE AGENCIES
GB Snowsport welcomes the decision by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) to transfer governance of Para Alpine Skiing, Para Cross-Country Skiing and Para Snowboard to FIS, and the IPC and International Biathlon Union’s (IBU) confirmation that Para Biathlon’s governance will be transferred to the IBU.
Over recent years, we have seen first-hand the benefits of integrating Olympic and Paralympic snowsport disciplines under the auspices of a single Governing Body system. Not only has that ‘One Team’ ethos strengthened the support available to Para Snowsport teams and athletes, but it has also provided reciprocal benefits to Olympic discipline squads through innovative training, conditioning and competition practices.
We strongly support the decisions made by the IPC, FIS, and IBU and look forward to seeing the growth of all Para snowsport disciplines as the Milan-Cortina Paralympic cycle begins into the new season.
Jayne Kavanagh, GB Snowsport Head of Paralympic Programmes, said:
“This is a really exciting development for the global Para Snowsport community, and I join colleagues around the world in commending the decision of the IPC, FIS, and IBU.
“The past few years have seen so many great examples within GB Snowsport of the benefits of Paralympic and Olympic discipline squads training, developing, and supporting one another as a collaborative group, and this step will hopefully see more opportunities for the sport to join forces, and to grow and thrive together.
“We also take this opportunity to pay tribute to the IPC, whose efforts have been so important in growing the Para Snowsport disciplines to their existing world-renowned status.”
Header Image: Neil Simpson competes during the Men’s Giant Slalom Vision Impaired Run 2 on day six of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics at Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre. Photo Credit: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images.
As thoughts turn towards pre-season, we look back at an historic 2021/22 season for GB Snowsport athletes
As a season of record-breaking highs and heart-breaking disappointments draws to a close, the British snowsport scene can look back on a year where the history books were rewritten, even as we felt the joy and the despair of an Olympic and Paralympic Games like no other.
In Beijing, British athletes battled covid restrictions, challenging snow conditions, crashes, injuries, and disruption, and returned home with pride, disappointment, new successes, agonising defeats and, from the Paralympic squad, six medals from the Alpine and Snowboard events. But those are results that only tell a fraction of the story.
26 World Cup and World Championship podiums
On the World Cup and World Championships stages, British athletes took 26 podiums with Charlotte Bankes’ Crystal Globe winning Snowboard Cross season and Dave Ryding’s history-making Slalom victory in Kitzbuehel leading the way. Europa Cup contests added another 25, including four for the remarkable Mia Brookes, each a victory, and all before she has turned 16 years of age. FIS level races saw British athletes notch another 12 podiums, including seven victories, in Alpine, Freeski, Snowboard and Ski Cross. World Championships and World Junior Championships, meanwhile, accounted for an additional nine. On podium places alone, British skiers and snowboarders at every level, are showing themselves among the world’s best athletes.
And off the slopes, yet more progress has been made. New partners in Redrow, Fusalp, and Williams Advanced Engineering have helped to grow the sport at home and overseas. More work is underway to champion equality and diversity at every level. Efforts to bring our sport closer to people at home have taken root.
Highs and lows in Beijing
We cannot, though, forget the frustration felt in Beijing. For the Olympic squad to return without a medal was a disappointment given the good form of so many athletes going into the Games, but even among the sense of missed opportunities there were green shoots to be found. Kirsty Muir’s Olympic debut hinted at the promise her talent holds, Makayla Gerken-Schofield’s best-ever Moguls result for a British Olympic skier, and Zoe Atkin’s top-10 in the Halfpipe all showed a core of young talent with their best years ahead of them.
Even as the emotions of defeat were present, so the grit and determination among the team came to the fore, whether in Leonie Gerken-Schofield’s ability to get back up again and put down a run after a fall in the Moguls, Charlotte Bankes’ breath-taking display of overtaking in the Snowboard Cross Team event after her shock elimination in the Women’s competition, or Gus Kenworthy’s determination to finish his Olympic career with a clean run after a bone-shuddering fall in the Halfpipe Finals.
Where Olympic results didn’t deliver a medal, the Paralympic squad was a regular fixture on the podium throughout the Games. Its six medals – one gold, one silver, and four bronze – came through a mix of old hands (Millie Knight and Menna Fitzpatrick both adding to their remarkable Paralympic records) and new blood (medals on debut for Neil Simpson and, for Ollie Hill a first ever British Paralympic snowboarding medal), and built on a World Championships that saw Britain return home with seven medals from Lillehammer.
A new cycle begins
As one four-year cycle draws to a close another begins, and eyes are already beginning to turn to Milan-Cortina, the venue for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. As plans for that cycle begin to take shape both the current and the next generation of British stars are making an ever-stronger mark.
As a country and as a Governing Body, we are still at the beginning of our journey to become one of the world’s leading snowsport nations. Results aside, the performance standard for British snowsport athletes has increased dramatically in the four years since the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, with the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic squads the strongest a British team has ever sent to a Winter Games. These are the levels that athletes will now have to meet and exceed as Milan-Cortina approaches, and the potential that a new generation of skiers and snowboarders is showing gives us reason for optimism.
In Snowboard Cross, the first Crystal Globe of Charlotte Bankes’ career shows the depth and consistency of her talent, with Huw Nightingale also enjoying a breakthrough season, while Ski Cross prospects are encouraging with Ollie Davies and Max Vaughton both making an impact this year.
In Alpine, Charlie Guest continues to go from strength-to-strength, with repeated forays into World Cup top-20 spots, while Reece Bell’s long-awaited World Cup debut has arrived, and Charlie Raposo has delivered the best British men’s performances in Giant Slalom for decades.
The Para Nordic squad has grown in stature with a series of career-best performances over the season hinting at the potential to come, while in the Para Snowboard ranks new talent continues to break through with Ollie Hill, Nina Sparks, and Jon-Allan Butterworth all bolstering British hopes at the highest levels.
Mateo Jeannesson’s development in Moguls has catapulted him to the top of the podium.
Mia Brookes looks ready to conquer the world after a season which saw her take eight wins and one runner up spot from nine FIS, Europa Cup and Junior World Championship event entries.
The country’s Freeski prospects look encouraging, with Kirsty Muir, Zoe and Izzy Atkin, Connie Brogden, and Tyler Harding all showing promise this year.
Britain’s Kitzbuehel King
The future, then, looks in good hands. But in the present, the 2021/22 season leaves behind a moment that will never be forgotten in British snowsport history. As the man himself said, “I remember in the past comments like ‘Ah, I’ve been beaten by a Brit’, or calling us an ‘exotic’ nation. Those comments have gone pretty quiet now. I’ve always said to the younger generation that it’s possible; I don’t have to say that anymore. I can just put the video on and say: ‘watch that’.”
A victory to showcase a great sportsman’s talent, and to mark Britain’s place on the global snowsport map.
Header image: Charlie Guest at Schladming World Cup, January 2022. Photo: GEPA pictures/ David Geieregger
The 2022 Paralympic Winter Games reached their conclusion with a final showing in the Men’s Slalom and the Cross-Country Open Relay
Neil Simpson‘s superb debut Games came to an end alongside guide Andrew Simpson, with a ninth-place finish in the Men’s VI Slalom. A difficult first run saw the pair in 11th place at the turn, but the third fastest second run in the field saw them claw back time and places to finish up in the top-10 once again. For the pair it was another encouraging performance in a Games that will be remembered for their Gold and Bronze medal showings earlier in the programme, and which saw them named as ParalympicsGB Flag Bearers for the Closing Ceremony of the Games.
James Whitley’s own outstanding Games also saw him bank another top-10 finish, coming eighth in the Standing Slalom. In difficult conditions that saw a significant proportion of the fied unable to finish, Whitley’s time of 1:42.59 left him less than 2s behind seventh spot, and just 9.38s outside of the podium places.
Alex Slegg and Dan Sheen were also back on the slopes for the final event of their debut Games in the Sitting Slalom, with Sheen posting a DNF on the second leg after coming into the turn in 25th spot, while Slegg was disqualified on his second run having sat in 18th spot after the first.
In the Cross-Country, the Men’s squad of Steve Arnold, Callum Deboys, Scott Meenagh, and Steve Thomas came in at the rear of the pack with a 12th place finish in the 4 x 2.5km Open Relay. The event concludes a remarkable programme for the Nordic squad which saw Paralympic Nordic debuts for Arnold, Deboys, Thomas and, in the women’s programme, Hope Gordon, a streak of career-best results for Meenagh and, for Arnold, an incredible two events under his belt having only received clearance to compete deep into the Games after a covid infection threatened to derail his entire competition.
Header Image: YANQING, CHINA – MARCH 13: Neil Simpson competes in the Para Alpine Skiing Men’s Slalom Vision Impaired during day nine of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics at Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre on March 13, 2022 in Yanqing, China. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
Day 8 of the Beijing Paralympic Winter Games saw the conclusion of the Women’s Alpine programme, and five Brits on the course in the Cross-Country
For the first time at the Games, Britain was able to put all five Para Nordic athletes on the start line, with Steve Arnold finally able to make his Paralympic debut having been forced to miss the majority of the Games programme after testing positive for covid shortly before the team flew out to Beijing.
In a tough Cross Country Men’s Middle Distance Sitting race in tiring conditions, Arnold took 28th, with teammate Steve Thomas in 31st, Callum Deboys banking an excellent 20th place, and Scott Meenagh continuing his impressive Games in 16th spot.
In the Women’s Middle Distance Sitting, Hope Gordon’s debut Games saw her finish up in 16th place, a superb showing, particularly given the Games come in her first season in the sport.
In a competitive field, Fitzpatrick, guided by Gary Smith, looked well set placed after her second run, but a strong showing from Alexandra Rexova pushed her into fourth from the bronze medal position. Millie Knight. guided by Brett Wild, had to settle for eighth, but leaves the Games with another Paralympic medal under her belt and the honour of having taken ParalympicsGB’s first medal of the Games.
In the Seated class, Shona Brownlee showed every ounce of her resilience in overcoming a nasty fall on her first run to retake the course, put down a finishing time, and confirm another top-10 finish at the Games, finishing up in ninth spot.
Header Image: ZHANGJIAKOU, CHINA – MARCH 12: Steve Arnold competes in the Men’s Middle Distance Sitting on day eight of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics at Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Centre on March 12, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
The penultimate day of competition will see the Nordic and Women’s Alpine teams back in action
Alpine – Women’s Slalom
Fresh from their Giant Slalom exploits, the Women’s Alpine squad are straight back into action for their final competition of the Beijing Paralympic Winter Games, the Slalom. Menna Fitzpatrick and Millie Knight with Guides Gary Smith and Brett Wild will lead the charge in the VI category, while Shona Brownlee will round off her Paralympic debut in the Seated class.
First runs start from 12:30am with the competition scheduled to be completed by 5:30am.
Watch on: Channel 4 and YouTube
Cross-Country – Men’s Middle Distance Sitting
Callum Deboys, Scott Meenagh, and Steve Thomas‘ Beijing campaign continues with the Middle Distance Cross-Country race. The Sitting category is set for 4:30am on the 10km course at Zhangjiakou National Cross-Country Centre.
Watch on: Channel 4 and YouTube
Cross-Country – Women’s Middle Distance Sitting
Having made ParalympicsGB history in her debut race, Hope Gordon continues her journey as Britain’s first ever female Paralympic Nordic skier in the Women’s Middle Distance sitting. The 7.5km race gets started at 4:50am.
Watch on: Channel 4 and YouTube
Header ImageL YANQING, CHINA – MARCH 11: Millie Knight competes in the Women’s Giant Slalom Vision Impaired during day seven of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics at Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre on March 11, 2022 in Yanqing, China. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
On a superb day for British athletes in Beijing, Ollie Hill took Snowboard Banked Slalom bronze in a nailbiter, while there were best ever Paralympic Games results for Owen PIck and Scott Meenagh
Ollie Hill rounded out his Paralympic Winter Games debut with a stunning Bronze in the Men’s LL2 Snowboard Banked Slalom. Sitting in third after the first run, Hill’s time was enough to secure him a superb podium spot less than two years after starting out in the sport, and with it take ParalympicsGB’s first ever Snowboarding medal. Sitting just behind him in fourth spot was Owen Pick, who came within tenths of a second of grabbing a podium spot of his own, his time of 1:10.64 coming fractions behind teammate Hill’s 1:10.45, and securing his best ever Paralympic Games finish. Andy MacLeod, meanwhile, rounded off his own Paralympic debut with a solid performance and a top-20 finish.
There was disappointment, meanwhile, for James Barnes-Miller, whose Games finished with a ninth-placed finish in the UL class. He nevertheless finishes the Games with two top-10 finishes under his belt after the fifth spot he took in the Snowboard Cross.
Speaking afterwards, Ollie Hill said:
“I’m absolutely stoked. I said earlier in the week I felt I had a bit more confidence in Banked Slalom, and we proved it today. To think I’ve come away with a medal, I cannot put it into words. I wanted to push for the gold, but the second run was a bit slower, the snow was caving in a bit.
“I’ve been off social media which has been qite nice but as soon as I get home I’m sure it will go a bit wild. My sisters have helped me so much through this; mum and dad will be so proud too.”
🥉 BRONZE 🥉
HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Ollie Hill who just won bronze on his Paralympic Debut in Banked Slalom SB-LL2!!!
— GB Snowsport (@GBSnowsport) March 11, 2022
Scott Meenagh‘s impressive showing at the Games continued with a career-best sixth place finish in the Biathlon Individual Sitting. In a race again dominated by the host nation, who took Gold and Bronze, Meenagh’s outstanding performances in Beijing were rewarded with a stunning result, his third time setting a career-best result over the course of the Games, his time of 41:32.5 leaving him more than a minute clear of Dan Cnossen of the USA in seventh. Callum Deboys, meanwhile, posted a gutsy 18th place finish with a final time of 49:53.8.
⭐ A CAREER’S BEST FOR SCOTT MEENAGH ⭐
Congratulations to @SMeenagh for 6️⃣th in the Biathlon Individual Sitting 💪
— GB Snowsport (@GBSnowsport) March 11, 2022
In the Women’s Giant Slalom, Menna Fitzpatrick took seventh spot in the VI category with Guide Gary Smith, while Millie Knight had to settle for ninth alongside Brett Wild in a race won by Austria’s Veronika Aigner, taking her first Paralympic title.
The Women’s Seated Giant Slalom saw Shona Brownlee finish up in ninth spot, her top-ten finish coming with a combined time across her two runs of 2:32.08.
Header Image: BEIJING, CHINA – MARCH 11: Bronze medallist Ollie Hill celebrates after competing in the Men’s Banked Slalom Snowboard SB-LL2 during day seven of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics at Zhangjiakou Genting Snow Park on March 11, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
A busy day at the Games will see the Women’s Alpine, Nordic, and Snowboard teams all in action
Alpine – Women’s Giant Slalom
In the Women’s Sitting Class, Shona Brownlee‘s Games are set to continue with the Seated first leg scheduled between 1.00am and 3.00am, following the conclusion of the Standing Class.
Second runs begin with the Women’s VI from 3.45am.
Watch on: Channel 4 and YouTube
Nordic – Men’s 12.5km Biathlon
The Men’s Seated race gets started at 2:30am.
Watch on: Channel 4 and YouTube
Snowboard – Banked slalom
The Men’s UL classification follows the Women’s UL, which starts at 3:00am, with the Men’s LL2 class following later in the morning.
Watch on: Channel 4 and YouTube
Header Image: YANQING, CHINA – MARCH 06: Shona Brownlee competes in the Para Alpine Skiing Women’s Super-G Sitting during day two of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics at Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre on March 06, 2022 in Yanqing, China. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
As International Women’s Day drew to a close, Hope Gordon made British Paralympic History, while Steve Thomas made his Beijing debut
Hope Gordon made history as she became Britain’s first ever female Para Nordic skier in the Women’s Sprint Free Sitting Cross-Country competition overnight. The Scot, whose first experience of Para Nordic skiing was as recently as 2021, can now officially call herself a Paralympian, with her efforts in the Qualifying Round enough to secure 17th place in the overall event standings.
In the men’s competition, there was also a Para Nordic Paralympic debut for Steve Thomas whose remarkable Paralympic career began at the Athens Summer Games in 2004 in sailing, before turning his hand to Sledge Hockey for the 2006 Games in Turin and now, having reversed a decision to retire after the 2016 Summer Games, Para Nordic skiing. He bowed out in the Qualifying Round in 25th position, with teammate Callum Deboys, appearing in his third event of the Beijing Games, taking 22nd.
Header Image: BEIJING, CHINA – MARCH 05: Callum Deboys competes in the Men’s Cross-Country Sprint Free at the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics at Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Centre on March 05, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Photo by ParalympicsGB)