SmartHer, StrongHer, FastHer initiative to provide coaches and athletes with specialised sport science training for female snowsport athletes

The project, which has been pioneered by GB Snowsport Physiotherapist Abi Okell, comes as the result of ongoing explorations by the Sport Sciences and Medicine department into opportunities for performance gains among the current athlete cohort as we prepare to enter the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games qualifying period for Milan-Cortina 2026. 

Drawing on cutting-edge research and insight into female athlete health, the project will provide a series of targeted education interventions for female athletes within the British high performance snowsport system, as well as coaches and support staff working with those athletes, to help optimise performance and wellbeing at a critical point in the Milan-Cortina performance cycle. 

Focusing initially on breast health and support, menstrual health and pelvic floor health, and female coaching psychology, the project will aim to provide a stronger foundation to support the growth and success of Britain’s female ski and snowboard athletes across all disciplines. Among the specialists delivering the training will be Professor Joanna Wakefield-Scurr, Professor of Biomechanics at the University of Portsmouth and a world-renowned expert in bra science and breast health, and GB Snowsport Physiotherapist Abi Okell who has supported Britain’s Paralympic and Olympic programmes for over a decade and has recently completed her MSc in Sport and Exercise Medicine, as well as having led a similarly focused project for GB Taekwondo’s Development Team. 

Announcing the project, GB Snowsport Chief Executive, Vicky Gosling, said: 

“The health and wellbeing of our female athletes is an extraordinarily important area of focus for all of us at GB Snowsport, not least due to the amount of world-leading talent that Britain has in the ranks of women’s snowsport. 

“As we build towards the Milan-Cortina Games in 2026 we want to ensure we are equipping our teams with all the necessary tools to succeed on and off snow, and we believe this project will have a material impact on the health, success, and welfare of our female athletes and the teams that work with them.” 

GB Snowsport Physiotherapist and Project lead, Abi Okell, added: 

“This is a topic that’s close to my heart, personally and professionally, and I’m delighted that we’re able to put it into practice this summer. 

“We’ve all known for many years the shocking rate of dropout in sport among girls, and recent research has demonstrated just how important it is that targeted sport science interventions and practices are employed when working with female athletes.  

“I want all our female athletes, and the coaches and staff that work with them, to feel empowered with the knowledge and awareness to improve their health literacy, body confidence, and ultimately their performance levels in sport. I’m really looking forward to working with the team, and with experts like Professor Joanna Wakefield-Scurr, to deliver this project and enhancing the support available to our incredible skiers and snowboarders.” 

With the season in its final throes, Charlotte Bankes and Jaz Taylor scored more podiums, while the Cross-Country and Alpine seasons drew to a close

Bankes podiums again

Charlotte Bankes added a fifth consecutive podium with silver in the first of the weekend’s Montafon Snowboard Cross World Cup races, and looked set for a sixth before an unfortunate DNF in Sunday’s Final left her in fourth spot.

With three victories and a bronze medal in four races, Bankes looked in typically imperious form throughout the weekend and ended the Montafon races with a strong hold on third spot in the overall Snowboard Cross standings.

Bankes’ silver medal performance in Saturday’s competition saw her finish just behind Michela Moioli of Italy, with Australia’s Josie Baff in third, while a battling performance in Sunday’s races saw her finish in fourth behind race winner Chloe Trespeuch, Lindsey Jacobellis of the United States, with Baff again taking bronze.

Taylor takes three podiums in Livigno

Jaz Taylor’s storming Telemark season continued with three podiums at the Livigno World Cup, adding two Sprint silvers and a Classic bronze to an already sparkling year. With the seventh, eighth, and ninth World Cup podiums of her season, Taylor now stands in first place in the Overall and Sprint Telemark standings with Finals taking place this week.

Davies delivers season’s best finish in Veysonnaz

Ollie Davies landed his best result of the season with seventh place in the Veysonnaz Ski Cross World Cup, with a gritty display of racing. Having previously broken into the top-10 this season once in Alleghe in February, Davies’ seventh place marked the fifth top-10 finish of his career, and a joint-second best career performance having previously finishes seventh at the Innichen World Cup in 2022.

Ryding finishes Slalom season in eighth spot

Dave Ryding’s evergreen performances propelled him to joint seventh-place in the overall Slalom standings. Lining up for Finals on the back of a fourth top-10 finish of the season in Aspen, Ryding battle to 15th place in Saalbach to leave him on 288 points, tied with Daniel Yule of Switzerland and ahead of Yule’s compatriot, Marc Rochat, in ninth position.

With top-10 finishes in Gurgl, Kitzbuehel and Aspen, alongside a podium in Madonna di Campiglio, Ryding once again demonstrated the grit, speed, and skill which has long marked him out as one of Britain’s greatest ever winter sport athletes.

Cross-Country Season Draws to close in Falun

The Cross-Country squad saw their season come to an end at the Falun World Cup, with Andrew Musgrave’s 18th spot in the 10km C the pick of the results.

The season conclusion sees Musgrave equal his best ever overall Distance standings performance, finishing in eighth spot, while James Clugnet also equalled his best ever Overall All Categories standings with a promising 66th overall performance. Andrew Young’s best result of the season, meanwhile, came in a 19th place finish at the Lahti Team Sprint World Cup, one of seven top-30 finishes across the season.

Freeskiers see success in Laax and Tignes

James Pouch and Ash Clayton both delivered EC podiums at the Laax Europa Cup Premium event, with Pouch taking third in the men’s Freeski Slopestyle, and Clayton second in the women’s event.

Chris McCormick, meanwhile, secured his best World Cup result of the season in the Tignes Freeski Big Air competition, taking 18th place in highly-competitive, high-scoring field.

Gerken Schofield inside top-20 again

Makayla Gerken Schofield landed their fifth top-20 finish of the season with 13th place in the Chiesa in Valmalenco Dual Moguls World Cup. The result marks their second best Dual Moguls finish of the season, after sixth place in Deer Valley in February, and continues their positive trajectory since returning from injury in January.

In the men’s competition, Mateo Jeannesson finished 24th.

Update on World Cup Squad Members

GB Snowsport can confirm the following injury status updates on members of GBS World Cup Squads

Charlie Raposo – Alpine

At the first of last weekend’s Aspen World Cup races, Charlie sustained an ACL tear and bruising to the tibia which will keep him sidelines for a period of time. Charlie will spend the rest of the season working on recovery and rehabilitation, and will be assessed throughout his recovery to determine the appropriate steps in his return to snow.

Charlie Lane – Freestyle Snowboard

Charlie remains under an extended return-to-snow programme following the radial head injury he sustained at the beginning of the year, having sustained a head injury during his initial return-to-snow training. He is being supported by the GB Snowsport Sport Sciences and Medicine Team and UK Sports Institute practitioners.

Kirsty Muir – freeski

Kirsty has undergone successful surgery on the knee injury she sustained at Copper Mountain World Cup, as well as a second surgery on a longstanding shoulder injury which she has been managing through competition and training. Kirsty remains focused on her rehabilitation alongside GB Snowsport Sport Sciences and Medicine staff and practitioners from UK Sports Institute.

We wish Charlie, Charlie, and Kirsty well in their continued recovery processes and look forward to seeing them back on snow in due course.

GB Snowsport, Snowsport England and Snow Camp are disappointed to announce that the inaugural UK Snowsport Awards, due to take place 6th June 2024, will not be going ahead as planned.

Since the Snowsport Awards was announced, we have been encouraged by the enthusiasm for and support of our belief in an event that works to bring the British snowsport sector together in celebration of its work, achievements, and people. We are enormously grateful to everyone who has expressed support for the initiative, excitement for the event, and backing for that work.

At the same time, we fully recognise the concerns over the timings of the event, and the challenge of making it a success, not least in its ambitions to raise significant funds for the work of the three organisations and the wider British snowsport community.

Like all organisations, we are deeply conscious of the economic pressures faced by businesses and households across the country, and we recognise that there are real challenges for people to justify investing money into an event like the Snowsport Awards at this moment in time.

This is not a decision we have taken lightly given the shared passion and determination from everyone involved, and also given the positive feedback from the snowsport industry that there is a place for an event of this nature.

The need to raise funds for British snowsport at every level remains significant, and we have no intention of stepping back from our aims of providing people and businesses with an opportunity to support increased funding for the snowsport community. To that end, we hope to return with a revised approach in due course.

For now, we would like to thank everybody who has offered their support, backing, and enthusiasm for this venture, and for the continued support that the snowsport community shows. We all believe in the power of snowsport, at every level, and we look forward to finding new ways to bring the industry together in the future.

GB Snowsport’s Skin Protection Partner, LifeJacket Skin Protection, tell you what you need to know about skin safety in the mountains

GB Snowsport fans can get 10% off their first purchase of LifeJacket Skin Protection by using the code GBS2024 at check-out.

The chances are that if you’re heading to the mountains – no matter your activity of choice – you’ll be outside and active for long periods while exposed to potentially harsh elements.

Experiencing the outdoors, discovering new places and being surrounded by incredible scenery are just some of the magical aspects of being up in the mountains.

However, altitude can also wreak havoc on your skin: ice-cold winds, extreme ultraviolet (UV), low humidity and sweating can all contribute to skin issues. 

To make sure your skin doesn’t wipeout, we put together a few tips so your skin can survive one of the harshest environments it comes into contact with.  

First Job: understand your skin

Think of your skin as the first line of defence against outside elements.

The skin’s major role is to protect your body from environmental ‘stressors’, extreme weather and harsh conditions. These environmental stressors attack your skin on a daily basis.

If your skin becomes damaged or compromised, it might not be able to perform it’s main job of protecting you. And that could mean things like bacteria or viruses getting inside your body. 

Skin damage can be anything on a spectrum from soreness, dryness, redness, cracking, spots, itchiness, wrinkles or sensitivity, all the way to skin cancer (and thousands of other things in between). 

Six skin protection tips for time in the mountains

So you can enjoy the mountains to their fullest and focus on the reasons you’re there (and not the painful side-effects), here are five tips on skin safety at altitude, including why we think they’re important.

Be Very UV-Aware

For years, goggle marks and a face tan have been a status symbol for a well-enjoyed ski or snowboard trip. Nowadays, people are more aware of the serious and damaging effects the sun’s UV light can have on our skin. This couldn’t be more true at altitude, for two reasons.

Firstly, you’re 1,500+ metres closer to the sun which sounds obvious because it is. But also the air is thinner and cleaner at altitude so less UV is filtered out. The cumulative effect of this means UV levels increase by 10% for every 1,000 metres above sea level, according to the World Health Organization.

In addition to this, light reflection plays a major role in increasing your UV exposure on a mountain. In winter, UV hits you twice: once from the sun and again, as it bounces off snow and back onto you, almost doubling your exposure.

For these reasons, a mountain is one of the harshest UV environments you can find yourself in. Even during a winter whiteout, damaging UV passes through cloud cover as many of us can attest to having got home, red-faced and confused.

While UVB is the wavelength of solar radiation that causes the skin to burn or go red, UVA causes deeper and less visible damage. It’s worth nothing that both are responsible for 80% of premature skin ageing and 90% of melanoma skin cancers.

Use an SPF 50+ product (with the UVA circle sign or 5* Ultra) on any exposed skin. Reapply at every coffee or hot chocolate break. Don’t get caught out. For summer mountaineers, UPF 50+ clothing is a neat solution because it’s the ultimate physical barrier while being lightweight and sweat-proof.

2. Moisture

There’s so much going against you at altitude when it comes to maintaining skin moisture: low humidity, ice cold winds, water loss in the form of perspiration, regular switching between inside and out, and hot showers, just to name a few of the main culprits.

We wrote an entire piece on skin moisture but in short, skin dryness can causes itchiness, cracking and discomfort. The cold means our skin produces less sebum. All skin types, even greasy skin, need extra care.

Over moisturise (if that makes sense). Beginning of the day and end of the day religiously. Use a heavier moisturiser than you might be used to as it will provide a thicker layer, or barrier, on the surface of your skin. As hard as this is after a long day in ski boots, try to avoid long, hot showers. Warm is your friend.

3. Lips

Even if your lips don’t normally need any special attention, they probably will do in the mountains. Lips don’t produce sebum so can quickly become dry. They also burn more easily than other areas of skin.

Keep an SPF lip balm in your pocket for both UV protection and moisture. Reapply constantly throughout the day.

4. Eyes

When skiing, snowboarding, or mountaineering, protecting your eyes against sunlight and glare from snow and ice is really important for your eye health. As mentioned, UV levels can be high even on a cloudy day and overexposure can lead to painful inflammation, known as ‘snow blindness’. It can also increase the likelihood of developing cataracts.

Sunglasses or goggles with UV400 protection (or which have the CE kite mark) are a critical piece of kit. Low quality lenses can cause more harm than good as you can read in our blog post devoted to eye protection.

5. Drink

Healthy skin contains about 30% water, which is essential for maintaining the skin’s elasticity, strength and structure. If that drops even slightly, it can lead to dehydrated skin. 

Up to half a litre of water evaporates from your skin each day, at rest, in a cool environment. This can increase to as much as 10 litres while exercising.

Maintain cellular moisture from the inside out and drink up. This really is one of the best ways to keep your skin moisture levels high. Assuming you’re skiing, hiking, walking, climbing etc. you’ll also be sweating in which case, drink more than you usually would.

6. End of Day Recovery

After hours outdoors, try to get into the habit of helping your skin recover. 

In simple terms, we mean cleanse and moisturise. This can take as little as 30 seconds and it will really help the skin repair itself after harsh exposure at altitude. 

Moisturisers can do two things depending on their ingredients: form a layer to block water leaving or try and add water to the epidermis. Use what you like and apply at the end of the day. 

Apply straight after a bath or shower to seal in moisture while your skin is damp. Don’t forget about your hands and body – they definitely won’t say no to a daily layer of added moisture.

Celebration of snowsport to help raise vital funds for Britain’s Snowsport Athletes, coaches, and young people

GB Snowsport, Snow Camp, and Snowsport England have joined forces to create the Snowsport Awards – a unique event with a shared goal to bring the whole of the British snowsport community together to raise essential funds to support the nation’s ski and snowboard athletes, coaches, and programmes to support young people.

From supporting Snow Camp’s work with underprivileged young people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to snowsport, to Snowsport England’s work with the grassroots of the sport and the clubs and academies which operate across the country, to supporting GB Snowsport athletes as they compete at the highest levels of the sport, the Snowsport Awards will bring together the British snowsport community to raise the funds needed to help the sector thrive in years to come. All funds raised from the Snowsport Awards will go directly back into developing the sport and supporting the efforts of GB Snowsport, Snow Camp, and Snowsport England.

Award categories which have already been announced include the Snowsport Personality of the Year award, the Contribution to Snowsport award, the Grassroots Organisation of the Year, and the Sustainability Award as part of a wider programme designed to reflect the work of people and organisations working across the breadth of the snowsport industry.

The inaugural Snowsport Awards will take place on Thursday 6 June at the Troxy in Central London with four-time Olympian Chemmy Alcott compering a star-studded evening, which will include a red carpet reception, gala dinner, and the Awards presentation before an after party to remember.

For more information and to secure your place at the Snowsport Awards, visit: www.snowsportawards.com

For sponsorship and partnership enquiries for the Snowsport Awards, contact Romano Sidoli: rs@romanosidoli.com

New partnership formed to support skin protection for elite snowsport athletes

GB Snowsport have today announced a new partnership with LifeJacket Skin Protection, which will see the brand act as GB Snowsport’s official skin protection partner for the remainder of the 2023/24 season. 

Built on a shared belief in the importance of skin protection in winter sport, the partnership will see LifeJacket Skin Protection products made available to GB Snowsport athletes and coaches to help provide daily skin protection through the rigours of elite skiing and snowboarding. 

With a vision to stop the increase in skin cancer, one of the world’s most common and preventable cancers, LifeJacket Skin Protection works extensively to provide people with the knowledge, tools and products to better protect their skin. 

GB Snowsport athletes will benefit from access to high-performance LifeJacket Skin Protection products, developed and made in Britain, that are used and stress-tested by Olympians, pro athletes, sports teams, the military, and dermatologists. 

Billy Boulos, LifeJacket Skin Protection Co-Founder, said: “We are delighted to add GB Snowsport to our roster of sport partners, and to be able to provide Britain’s best skiers and snowboarders with access to our rigorously tested skin protection products. We really want to spread the word about the importance of skin protection in every walk of life, and through this partnership we can show just how vital that is for anyone who spends their life outdoors in the mountains.” 

Chris Scott, Head of External Relations at GB Snowsport said: “We’re really pleased to be working with LifeJacket Skin Protection through the rest of the current season. Skin protection is an often overlooked but absolutely critical part of protecting our athletes now and in the future, and we look forward to working with the LifeJacket Skin Protection team over the coming months to provide more athletes with cutting-edge Skin Protection support.” 

Team GB announce 10-athlete Ski & Snowboard squad within wider 36-athlete team

The British Olympic Association have today confirmed that ten ski and snowboard athletes will represent Team GB as part of an overall 36-athlete squad at next month’s Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon.

The ten athletes will compete across four discipline groups, and includes a number of athletes who have previously represented Britain on the FIS World Cup tour.

This year’s selection of young athletes are following in the footsteps of many British Olympians who previously competed at this level, including Kirsty Muir, who won big air silver at Lausanne 2020 before becoming the youngest member of Team GB at Beijing 2022.

Team GB Chef de Mission for Gangwon 2024, Eve Muirhead, said:

“I am incredibly proud to be leading this year’s delegation for Gangwon 2024, and it is a huge honour to prepare the team for what is a formative event in their careers.

“I’ve been to four Olympics with Team GB and have led a team throughout the majority of my curling career so I understand the emotions of performing on the world’s biggest stage. I’m thrilled I can share my knowledge and advice with these athletes dealing with the pressure at this level.”

Siddhartha Ullah, selected to the Freestyle Snowboard squad, said:

“I’m so excited and honoured to represent Great Britain in the Youth Olympics and get British halfpipe snowboarding back on the map. I’ve heard from a few athletes that it’s more fun than the actual Olympics, so I’m looking forward to a great experience… and some good food in South Korea!”

Full Ski and Snowboard Squad Selections:

Alpine Skiing:

  • Molly Butler – aged 17 from Guildford
  • Zak Carrick-Smith – aged 16, based in Albertville

Cross-Country Skiing:

  • Elspeth Cruickshank – aged 16 from Aberdeen
  • Thomas Duncan – aged 15, based in Stavanger
  • Sophie Forth – aged 16 from Harlow

Freestyle Skiing:

  • Charlie Cooper – aged 17 from Westminster
  • Jake Dade – aged 17 from Great Yarmouth
  • Axel Rose Green – aged 17 from Cambridge

Snowboarding:

  • Charlie Lane – aged 16 from Brighton
  • Siddhartha Ullah – aged 17, based in Los Angeles

GB Snowsport wishes all athletes selected the best of luck in Gangwon next year.

GB Snowsport Head Coach, Pat Sharples, took home the prestigious Coach Award at last night’s 2023 PLx Awards

We are delighted that Pat Sharples’ work in driving Britain’s high-performance ski and snowboard programmes was recognised last night at the 2023 UK Sport PLx Awards.

Pat, who was named in a shortlist of three British high-performance coaches, was voted winner by the Awards judging panel after a year in which Britain delivered a record number of World Cup, World Championships, and X Games podiums across the 2022/23 season.

The Coach Award, which recognises a current coach who has challenged themselves to achieve exceptional and inspiring performances in the past year, is one of the highest levels of recognition within the British high-performance sport community and provides richly-deserved recognition of the impact of Pat’s work on British skiing and snowboarding.

Pat said:

“I’m just gobsmacked, I wasn’t expecting this at all. For me coaching is the greatest job in the world; if it wasn’t my job, I’d still be doing it in my free time. I’ve loved the whole journey, coaching youngsters on the dry slopes right through to being able to do this at the highest level.”

Pat also paid tribute to the wider high-performance coaching community, saying:

“I don’t think I’d be up here without the coach leadership course by UK Sport, all of the support that I got from the coach developers, the people who ran that course, who put that on for me and all the other coaches who were on the programme. They’re all now friends, and I know I can reach out to them at any time. It’s a real team effort.”

Everyone at GB Snowsport wishes Pat warm congratulations on this much-deserved victory.

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