With one year to go until the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Winter Games 2022 in Beijing, GB Snowsport and Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) have teamed up in support of the country’s quest for Paralympic success at the Games and across the 2021/22 winter season.

Drawing on expert knowledge from WAE’s Sports and Human Performance Team, the partnership will see athletes and performance specialists from GB Snowsport’s elite programme work with engineers and other experts to boost the nation’s chance of success.

The partnership will draw on learnings from WAE’s previous successes in supporting British Paralympic efforts at the Olympic Summer Games in 2016, and will be supported by industry-leading expertise from Coventry University, BAE Systems and Formaplex.

Vicky Gosling, GB Snowsport Chief Executive, said: “We are committed to working with our incredible Paralympic athletes to ensure they have the best chance of success at competitions throughout the season, and also as they head into the Paralympic Winter Games. By working with Williams Advanced Engineering we are gaining access to some of the country’s leading experts in engineering and performance, each of whom will play an important role in achieving the levels of success we expect to see across the next 12 months and at the Paralympic Games next March.”

Paul McNamara, Technical Director at Williams Advanced Engineering, added: “We are delighted to be involved in this project and using our experience in design and manufacture to support some of the country’s leading athletes in their preparations for next year’s Paralympic Winter Games. In just a few months we have already seen exciting progress, and we look forward to seeing this translate into positive gains over the next 12 months.”

The outcomes of the partnership are expected to be in-place by the end of this year to support athletes across the full 2021/22 season and into the XIII Paralympic Winter Games, which get underway in Beijing on Friday 4 March 2022.

With one year to go until the opening of the Paralympic Winter Games 2022, GB Snowsport are delighted to support the launch of a new set of VI Skiing resources designed for use in the national School Games programme.

The VI Skiing challenge cards, initially created as part of the Kent School Games programme, were designed and developed by Jon Rye, Programme Director at Bubble & Scruff, and Paralympic Gold Medal winning Super-G guide, Charlotte Evans MBE, to introduce an Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games discipline into the school sports environment.

The School Games is a Sport England/National Lottery funded programme delivered nationwide by the Youth Sport Trust and led by government which aims to provide competitive school sport opportunities to all young people across England. The new VI Skiing challenge cards will provide Primary School PE leaders and teachers with a fully inclusive sport format that supports both Personal Best challenges and intra-school competitions, as children and young people work on their teamwork and communication skills.

Jayne Kavanagh, GB Snowsport Head of Culture and Paralympic Operations, said: “With one year to go until the start of the Beijing Paralympic Winter Games 2022, we are delighted to support the launch of this fantastic new resource. We know just how much VI Skiing captivates that nation during the Games, and through these new VI Skiing challenge cards, young people across the country will have the opportunity to test out some of the key skills that our athletes put into practice day in, day out on the slopes.”

Jon Rye, Bubble & Scruff Programme Director, added: “We are pleased to have developed this resource which will bring a new and exciting sport into the school environment. The resource, in a nationally recognised format, will provide teachers with the opportunity to engage children and young people in fully inclusive challenges, at a time when support is needed to improve physical and mental wellbeing and social skills. The involvement of Paralympic Gold Medallist, and great role-model, Charlotte Evans MBE, has been integral to the development of these resources, ensuring challenges are based on her coaching expertise and experience of medal-winning teamwork between a Skier and a Guide.”

The full set of VI Skiing challenge cards are available for download here.

For more information on the national School Games programme, visit www.yourschoolgames.com

Main image: Millie Knight.

It’s all about recovery and freedom on the snow

We are an all-volunteer, independent service charity who use competitive para-snowsport as a means to support and accelerate the recovery of our wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans.

Our experienced team of volunteers provide adaptive snowsport instruction to those with a physical or psychological condition, where help in recovery can be achieved in a competitive sporting environment.

We nurture a team ethos where every individual is important to us.

Our aim is to help restore self-esteem and foster a sense of purpose by creating an opportunity for every athlete to experience the exhilarating freedom of snowsport. We run a comprehensive programme for all abilities in three adaptive disciplines – Snowboarding, Alpine and Nordic Skiing. Bespoke training is offered to every athlete, regardless of ability. Although primarily focused upon providing inexperienced team members with drive and purpose, we also create the opportunity for aspiring athletes to compete on the world stage.

An inspirational short video The Journey created by film-maker John Holden provides a glimpse into the charity and how our beneficiaries have responded to the opportunities available to them.

Inspiration comes in many guises….

When it comes to our athletes, every single one of them offers a unique insight into how perseverance and bravery can get you through the most difficult of times. Collectively and individually, they are all quite simply inspirational.

Put yourself in their boots…..

Can you imagine tackling a slalom run at 70km an hour with grace and precision, when completely blind? How about operating a sit-ski on a Nordic trail with only your arms to propel you along? Would you dive down the steepest mogul field on your snowboard, with both your lower legs missing? How do you ski at all when you are battling with PTSD, a condition that can be triggered at any moment? Our athletes can. It is their bravery and fighting spirit that makes our snow family so special. We offer them a chance to experience independence and freedom on snow. In return, they astound us with their personal achievements both on and off the slopes. To push boundaries and to taste success helps us all achieve great things in life. Our athletes are testament to that.

‘I can now truly say that I have got the fire in my belly back and I’m feeling part of something again – a team and a family.
Troy Connor – Para Nordic Athlete

We’re not just about being on snow….

Pulling together as a team isn’t just for the winter season, a theory that has been tested fully over the last year. It is fair to say that 2020 has not panned out quite as we originally planned. Like everyone else, we’ve had to find new, innovative ways to stay in touch with our wider snow family. We’ve tried all sorts to keep spirits up – from quiz nights to branded face masks. This month, we’ve launched the ‘AFPST Let’s Get Active’ in partnership with Battle Ready 360 https://battleready360.co.uk and Ollie Ollerton. The aim is to help deliver health and well-being sessions for all our athletes and staff. Every participating athlete has received a Battlebox, containing key fitness equipment and access to some awe-inspiring workout sessions, to help maintain fitness and keep spirits up during lockdown.

Despite current restrictions, our Performance Teams have remained active on the slopes, their sights still firmly fixed on the Paralympics in 2022. The Para Nordic Athletes are training out in the USA ahead of their first competition of the season. Owen Pick, a Snowboarder, is currently training out of Finland and our sit skiers have done exceptionally well in both the Europa Cup and World Cup this year. Our focus is now on the next season, when we hope to resume our program fully.

“AFPST continues to have an enormous impact on my recovery. Having a goal to focus on has made a huge difference to my morale. Prior to the charity’s involvement, I was forever being told I couldn’t do things. The AFPST has proved I can”.
Senior Aircraftman Shona Brownlee – Para Alpine Athlete

How to get involved?

We are a not-for-profit organisation and therefore entirely reliant upon the generosity of others. We welcome any donations from private or corporate donors, large or small. Why not use the competitive nature of the charity to kick-start your own fund raising efforts?

Kayak 4 Heroes plans to make a splash for AFPST

Four of our intrepid, incredibly fit and determined athletes have decided to take the word ‘challenge’ and move it up a notch or two. In June 2021, the Kayak 4 Heroes team intends to navigate some of the UK’s most challenging waters in a bid to paddle from Land’s End to John O’Groats by Kayak – a distance of 1,400 kilometres.  They have set a target to raise over £1000,000 for the AFPST and we are enormously proud of them. To follow their journeying, please go to www.kayak4Heroes.co.uk. For more information about our athletes and the work we do, you can visit www.afpst.co.uk. Find us on Facebook Instagram Linked In

We caught up with GB Snowsport Head Coach Pat Sharples with one year to go until the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.

How are the GB Snowsport team shaping up with 1 year to go until the Olympic Winter Games 2022?

I feel all the different teams from all the different disciplines are doing incredibly well considering the challenges they’ve faced over the last year. There’s obviously been many of the major competitions including Olympic qualifying events cancelled and a lot of on snow training missed due to Covid. But everyone is just getting on with it and preparing for Beijing 2022  the best we can. 

When does the training start to ramp up in terms of hours and intensity in the lead up to the Games?

It never really stops to be honest as all our athletes have their own personal performance goals and targets. At the moment we’re in the middle of Olympic qualification and that’s been the main focus. But as mentioned before, there’s many events getting cancelled so our athletes are focusing on training.

What other types of training do the athletes do, other than their discipline, to prepare for the Games?

All our athletes have very different programs and their designed to suit what they need with regards to their performance plans. Strength and conditioning is obviously a huge part of this and something that many of our athletes have focused on even more than normal specially when we we’re limited with time on snow due to the pandemic. 

Is it hard to keep the athletes motivated to train hard, do you have any tips on keeping motivated?

Our athletes, coaches, support staff are extremely good at keeping themselves motivated mainly because they’re so passionate and love what they do. I feel we’ve been incredibly lucky in these tough times as we’ve had goals to focus on which keeps you driving forward in a positive way. 

Please tell us a bit about your full-time role at the British Olympic Association?

As Chef de Mission for Beijing 2022 I am responsible for the planning and the delivery of the delegation in Beijing. I am also Deputy Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020 and day-to-day I am a Sport Engagement Manager for the BOA which means I have a portfolio of sports that I am responsible for to make sure that their planning is on track for the upcoming Games.

What is the role of the Chef de Mission at the Olympics?

I have overall accountability for the entire delegation, which includes athletes, coaching staff and wider support staff in country. Additionally, I oversee the planning phase, to ensure that we create the very best platform for athletes to perform when they get to the start line in Beijing. That includes everything from operations, to flights, accommodation to pre-Games training, making sure we have all of the nice home from home items in the Olympic Village, the performance services, medical staff and the medical equipment that goes with that, our programme that supports nearest and dearest of athletes, kitting out just to name a few. We have over 20 different project areas that make up our Beijing plan

The delivery of Beijing in its entirety falls on my shoulders but I’ve got amazing people who are supporting me to ensure that we deliver something special for the athletes.

What are you most looking forward to at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games?

What I’m really looking forward to is seeing the athletes competing. We’re obviously all experiencing some challenges at the moment due to the pandemic, but just watching the way that the athletes are coping with that has been so inspiring. There are some extremely talented athletes in the pipeline so I can’t wait to see them in action in Beijing.  

What are you focussing on at the moment for Beijing?

There are three main areas we are focusing on at the moment. The first is the three clusters – typically at a Winter Games you have a coastal cluster and a mountain cluster, but we’ve got three to manage in Beijing. We’re looking at how we deploy our staff and operations to best support the athletes and sports throughout their time in Beijing.

The second is our footprint around the core Organising Committee which includes things like accommodation for non-accredited officials and pre-Games training sites where athletes can go prior to entering the Olympic Village. 

Thirdly is how we manage the unprecedented situation where we have two Olympic Games within six months of each other and making sure that Beijing is at the forefront of everybody’s minds.

In the past it used to be the case that we’d deliver two Olympic Games within the space of six months (with 1992 being the last time this was the case), but what’s different now is our footprint and our deliverables, which are a lot wider than they used to be. It is a different situation that we find ourselves in, however we’ve got a dedicated team at the BOA that are working on Beijing, so that is their focus. We’ve also brought some of our planning forward compared to our usual timings to make sure we have as much as we can in place before Tokyo.

There will be a great opportunity for us to learn from Tokyo. I think the Winter delegation has a great advantage to have gone through Tokyo in the new environment that we find ourselves in. There’s a real opportunity to implement the learnings we take from Tokyo into Beijing, which can only be a positive.

How are the venues shaping up in Beijing?

We have monthly calls with the Beijing Organising Committee and the latest information is that all the venue construction is proceeding as scheduled and that their timings haven’t been affected by the pandemic, which is great news. We know that Beijing will have some amazing venues across all three clusters, and we remain in close contact with them regarding the test events due to take place.

What does a normal day look like for a Chef de Mission during the Olympic Games?

Typically, the day starts with a leadership call where we run through any issues from the day before and any actions that need to be implemented. We then look more broadly at the day ahead to see which sports are arriving, who’s competing and what areas we need to focus on for that particular day.

I often have a Chef de Mission meeting, which takes place first thing in the morning, where all the Chef de Missions from every country come together and we hear from the Organising Committee on anything we should be aware of and are able to raise any concerns we have. I may also have a meeting with all Team GB sport Team Leaders, where we check in with them and ensure everything is on track.

Following on from that my priority will ensuring those athletes and staff already in country have all that they need and also meeting and greeting new athletes arriving, ensuring they settle into the environment as quickly as possible as well. Finally, checking in with the athletes who are departing. Around this, supporting athletes competing is always a great part of the day.

No day is ever the same, that’s for sure!

What advice would you give someone that wants to work at an Olympic Games?

My biggest piece of advice would be to grab any opportunities you’re given, which is exactly what I did when I retired as an athlete. I took up a lot of voluntary opportunities and then off the back of that I realised it was something that interested me; staying in sport but not standing on the start line myself.

What I learned early on from working at the BOA is that there is a lot more to the organisation than I realised when I was an athlete. Sport is just one part of it; we have a marketing and communications team, a commercial team, legal team, finance team – there’s all sorts of different areas that you can get an understanding from, not just sport.

If you see an opportunity to get involved and it’s something that you’re interested in, then do take up those opportunities where you can.

Tell us something that not many people would know about unless they had worked at an Olympic Games?

As an athlete I had no idea what went on behind the scenes and now I know that the team has a few days to transform what is essentially an empty hotel in the Olympic Village, with some beds and wardrobes, into a home from home for the athletes. Whether that’s the rugs or cushions that you see, the coffee or the tea or all the branding up on the walls, all of that comes as part of what we call our ‘Home from Home’ strategy; designed to make sure that athletes feel like they are at home rather than them moving into an environment that could be in any country.

We have a catalogue of over 100 different items to enhance the Home from Home experience. Here are some approximate examples of what we’d usually order for a Winter Games:

  • 20,000 teabags and 6,000 coffee pods
  • 100 sofas and 80 armchairs
  • 200 Team GB dressing gowns and 200 Pride the Lion teddies
  • 1,000 clothes hangers
  • 180 Union Jack cushions
  • 80 Union Jack rugs
  • 40 fridges, 60 kettles, 25 irons and 15 coffee machines

Today officially marks the start of UK Sport’s new female coaches leadership programme with 27 coaches from 15 sports coming together as part of a plan to more than double representation in the Olympic and Paralympic high-performance community by Paris 2024.

Eight coaches, including the addition of highly-respected duo Jane Figueiredo (diving) and Claire Morrison (boccia), will lead a six-month programme for 19 of the most promising coaches in the UK, all of whom have been identified as having the potential to coach at the summer and winter Olympic and Paralympic Games from Paris 2024 and beyond.

Figueiredo and Morrison join Paula Dunn (para athletics), Kate Howey (judo), Mel Marshall (swimming), Bex Milnes (para triathlon) and Tracy Whittaker-Smith (trampolining) as coach leaders while Karen Brown, who spent over 15 years as a coach for Great Britain Hockey and England Hockey, will act as a mentor throughout.

The 19 participating coaches will be offered key support and development opportunities, including times to observe an assigned coach leader in their environment The programme will focus on three key areas, leadership, environment and transition, all of which are fundamental to the coaching development journey. The 19 coaches and their pairings are:

  • Paula Dunn: Nicola Benavente (rowing), Hannah Brown (canoeing)
  • Jane Figueiredo: Christine Bloomfield-Harrison (athletics), Jody Kime (artistic gymnastics), Lisa Letchford (hockey)
  • Kate Howey: Jenny Leeming (diving), Shani Palmer (athletics), Jo Ryding (alpine skiing)
  • Mel Marshall: Leah Crane (climbing), Monica Greenwood (cycling), Sarah Kelleher (hockey), Coral Nourrice (athletics)
  • Bex Milnes: Danielle Brayson (swimming), Naomi Johnston (cycling)
  • Claire Morrison: Katie Arup (fencing), Lysa Jones (golf)
  • Tracy Whittaker-Smith: Emma Trott (cycling), Laura Turner-Alleyne (athletics), Christy Mackinnon (alpine skiing)

Sally Munday, CEO at UK Sport, said: “It is really exciting to see such a large number of coaches from right across our high-performance community involved in this programme. We have an amazing group of coach leaders, who are the trailblazers and the people doing it now, and the opportunity for the 19 promising coaches to learn from them – as well as each other – is going to be incredible.

“UK Sport is determined to see greater diversity across the high-performance community and I know the role that I can play in championing this programme. I believe that each of the participants will become role models for the next generation of coaches and will truly enable us to reach our aims and ambitions for female coaches.

“I want to be able to reflect back that this was a turning point of truly making our workforce, in particular our coaching workforce, in the high-performance community far more diverse and a lot more equal from a gender perspective.”

Claire Morrison, Performance Coach at Boccia UK, said: “This is such an exciting programme to be involved in. I have always been lucky to be inspired by so many female role models through my sporting journey from my mum, my PE teacher, coaches and now my performance director. I know how important it is that female coaches have visibility of other female coaches to help show what is possible.”

Katie Arup said: ““I am delighted to have been selected onto UK Sport’s female coaches leadership programme. The programme will give me the opportunity to work with and shadow an inspirational group of female coaches from a range of Olympic and Paralympic sports. I am looking forward to the challenges the programme will throw up for me as a female fencing coach. I feel ready to up my game, push myself forward on my career path as a fencing coach and embrace becoming a better high-performance coach that can bring excellence to our future GB athletes.”

Monica Greenwood, Women’s Endurance Podium Coach for the Great Britain Cycling Team, said: “The ambition and passion in this programme to help female coaches step forwards in their coaching careers is really exciting and I’m really pleased to be able to be part of it. The coach leaders within the programme have such a depth of experience at the top level of sport. The opportunity to learn from my mentor, Mel Marshall, is something that I am really looking forward to and feels especially relevant in my new role as coach to the Great Britain Cycling Team’s women’s endurance podium squad.”

Lysa Jones, England Golf Regional Coach, said: “I am incredibly proud and humbled to be part of UK Sport’s female coaches leadership programme. As an England Golf coach working with our next generation of elite golfers, I am passionate about addressing the current under-representation of female coaches in UK sport and so to be involved with this initiative is really important to me. I am one of only a few female golf coaches and so to inspire and empower other women to follow their coaching goals will be a wholly rewarding experience and one I will relish.”

Coral Nourrice, Paralympic Talent Development Coordinator at UK Athletics, said: “The programme will not only expose me to an unknown environment for learning but will also provide me with a unique opportunity to develop my present skill set and network. I will be able to step up and be part of an increasing cohort of female coaches, learning from their leadership styles, strategic knowledge and experiences. 

“I am excited to be part of a programme that will support me to reach my full potential by working with my mentor, Mel Marshall. I am confident that shadowing Mel will enable me to go outside my comfort zone to seek solutions to achieve the next level in my career as a high- performance coach.”

Jo Ryding, Para Alpine Performance Coach at GB Snowsport, said: “It’s a huge privilege to be part of the first UK Sport female coaches leadership programme, which is enabling more female coaches to progress into higher performance roles within World Class Programmes. I hope we can become role models for more females to make the steps up the ladder in the future and see an increase in female coaches at the top level.”

At present, approximately only 10% of coaching positions within the high-performance community in the UK are held by women. The leadership programme forms part of UK Sport’s long-term plan to address the current under-representation of female coaches at all levels of the talent pathway within the high-performance community.

The first target of this long-term plan is to ensure that by the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024, the number of female coaches available to Team GB and ParalympicsGB has more than doubled to 25%.

UK Sport collaborated with Performance Directors, Coach Developers and Talent Pathway Managers within the Olympic and Paralympic high-performance community, as well as UK Coaching, on nominating female coaches to be part of the programme.

It arises from UK Sport’s People Development Team, working in partnership with sports and stakeholders to address diversity and inclusion ambitions, removing barriers and introducing bespoke programmes with gender the first characteristic and other initiatives to follow.

SKI WITH A YETI

Inclusive Snow Sports and Additional needs – there are no limits!

People with additional needs (hidden disabilities) encounter challenges every day, often in situations that many of us take for granted, such as a trip to the shops, a meal with friends or a family day out. Facing new environments, interacting with other people or being part of a team may not come naturally, causing frustration, anxiety and low self-esteem.

Based out of The Snow Centre, Snowbility’s aim is to enrich the lives of students, parents, carers and teachers we work with, by giving people with additional needs and rehabilitation challenges the opportunity to develop both emotionally and physically through skiing and snowboarding.

The sense of freedom and electricity that you will all feel when you are on the slopes is the same feeling that our students get when they ski from the top of our indoor slope.  Where else would you want to be !!.

Our aim is to fulfil the potential of every student, giving them a newfound confidence and a sense of pride and personal achievement.  Living in the moment.

So what is Inclusive Snow Sports : 

Inclusive Snowports is different to adaptive snow ports which is a vital and valuable element of snow sports and addresses a huge number of disabled skiers and snowboarders with equipment that is truly life changing.

The best way to understand Inclusive Snow Sports is to hear from one of my students Chase Patterson who was shown on Ski Sunday in 2018 with Ed Leigh and Graham Bell

Inclusive caters to people who don’t think or learn like the majority. Regardless of our additional needs, we are just individuals.

The way we experience the world is fundamentally different, and so the way we, and those who teach us approach snow sports must be different.

We have such a wide variety of presentations with so many different things potentially affecting us that a short section on an adaptive course won’t usually be enough.

There are some great Autism programmes around the world, but the majority of adaptive courses just don’t cover what you need to know about the challenges of Autism. 

With any ASD or learning disability it’s not just the sport or how we learn that’s the problem. The whole environment is a constant challenge.

Snowsports have huge advantages over other sports for people with sensory issues in that snow deadens sound and limits smells which can otherwise cause a sports environment to be too overwhelming.

Physically it can do wonders too – it’s well known that students with autism or learning disabilities can have low muscle tone and issues with balance and proprioception – the body’s ability to perceive its own position in space. Its so important for us to be active and build core strength.

Snowsports are incredible for those issues. Lots of autistic students hate being sweaty and will avoid physical activity for this reason, but being in the cold will limit this making them able to do more for longer. 

The physical benefits and sensory advantages give snowsports a unique potential to help students with autism and learning disabilities IF instructors and resorts can support the rest of the experience. 

It takes time to understand why things are difficult for us, but that investment at the beginning from instructors and resorts who can not only provide teaching that we will understand, but also the patience and understanding to make us feel safe will let us excel in the power of snow sports.

And even further than that, gaining confidence in an environment and having instructors that understand, helps people with cognitive issues with their language and processing skills. 

A supportive environment can help these students to become more functional in every day to day areas of their life.

Because at the end of the day, the world is so difficult for us. It’s scary and we experience more than our fair share of failure.

Being properly supported so we can succeed at something contributes hugely to our confidence and self esteem. 

And when you get it right, when you get into a rhythm, gliding down a mountain is the most free you will ever feel. Getting any experience of that is going to do wonders for all of us who find everything else so hard. It really is life changing and we really do feel the electricity you gain through snow sports.

CHASE PATTERSON – SNOWBILITY STUDENT

Helping every student achieve their own personal goals – Anything is possible

At Snowbility we work individually with each student, taking the time to understand their personality to form a relationship based on trust and respect. Our team of fully qualified ski and snowboard instructors has the knowledge, experience and passion to provide tailor-made coaching for a wide range of complex physical, psychological and mental health needs, including learning disabilities, autism, dyspraxia, deafness and visual impairment.

The coaching methods we use go way beyond teaching our students to ski or snowboard; through our understanding of every individual, we can read how they will react, whilst developing their non-verbal communication skills, ability to balance and continuously building their confidence by charting and rewarding their progress. Our job is to encourage and enhance the natural abilities in every student by teaching in a fun, exciting and relaxed environment.

How you can make a difference to your community:

Of course everyone is busy just trying to survive and achieve for themselves – but don’t let your success cause you to lose your willingness to test yourself in news ways that can make a difference to those with hidden disabilities in your community anywhere in the world.

  • Do a mental health first aid course
  • Keep your eyes open to opportunities to help just one more person find snow sports
  • For those with additional needs – funding is a major issue.  So help them by helping us generate funding at The Snow Sports Foundation – Charity number 1158955.
  • If you see others being involved in additional needs in schools or sports or life skills– let me know – we should all be collaborating and supporting each other.
  • Come to the Snow Centre and see what we do, or if your interested or have an idea just get in touch.  We are just at the end of an email, phone or zoom.
  • Help us make a difference through social media.

To find out how Snowbility can help you, please contact me Richard Fetherston at richard@snowbility.co.uk or call 01442 773007.     

www.snowbility.co.uk 

Snow-Camp have launched Stop.Breathe.Think, a mental health campaign offering free counselling support to young people across the UK.

For the last few months Snow-Camp have put their skis and boards away and have focused on delivering much needed mental health support to young people during these difficult times. Through Stop.Breathe.Think young people can access 1-1 counselling sessions. Youth workers, social workers, teachers and parents are also able to refer young people for support.

As part of the campaign Snow-Camp have launched a text support service in partnership with Shout. Here young people can text BREATHE to 85258, to speak to a trained volunteer first, before accessing the counselling support.

Stop.Breathe.Think also encourages young people to sign up for a series of mindfulness tutorials, which provide mindfulness techniques and information to help young people manage their emotions.

Snow-Camp have been providing mental health support to young people on their programmes since 2017 and they’re now delighted to make this additional support available to all young people, at a time when they need it the most.

What makes their support different?

– The text service is available 24/7.

– Unlike many other free counselling services, there are no waiting times and the young person and/or the person referring the young person is contacted within 24 hours.

– They are working with a team of 30 counsellors who specialise in different issues. So, a young person can get the right targeted and specialised support from the start.

– Counselling support can take place virtually, with options for face to face contact post-Covid.

Snow-Camp are reaching young people in many creative ways from youth-led artwork, billboards and social media promotion to support from leading youth music platform LinkUpTV and rap music artist Nito NB.

Snow-Camp want as many young people as possible to access this service and they are asking the snowsports community to share information about their service far wide and to support the campaign in any way possible. Thank you.

Read more about Snow-Camp’s campaign and visit the Stop.Breathe.Think page.

By Henri Rivers

Winter is approaching in the Northeast part of the US and we are witnessing another beautiful scenic display of the transformation from fall to winter as we view the colourful majestic backdrop. As we travel through the mountains preparing for the new season and anticipating the first snowflake to fall, we feel it in the air – the ski season will soon be here. However, snowsports are not quite the same, as the National Brotherhood of Skiers (NBS) and the world are experiencing the “new normal”.

It has been an impactful year for the NBS after the fallout of COVID-19 among club members and advocating on the front lines for racial equity in the snowsports industry. In lieu of its traditional in-person summit, the organization plans to hold a Virtual Black Summit in February 2021 and reminisce about skiing, boarding and enjoying snowsports while socializing virtually the new normal way.

The NBS beginning started in 1973 when 13 ski clubs from around the United States converged in Aspen, Colorado for what was called the “The Gathering” and is now affectionately called the “NBS Black Summit. Almost 50 years later, the organization’s 50 clubs with over 3,500 members nationwide, including England, will commence preparations for its milestone 50th Anniversary.

Over the years, the NBS has been recognized as the largest ski and boarding organization in the US. Pursuant to its mission to identify, develop and support athletes of colour who will WIN Olympic and international winter sports competitions, representing the United States, and to increase participation in winter sports, the NBS continues to break barriers in snowsports and make meaningful accomplishments, while being reminded of the racial barriers faced and continue to experience in the snowsports industry.

As of late, the snowsports industry has made their position known to the public that they will no longer stand by and accept racial discrimination and racial bias. They understand and know that “Black Lives Matter” and the lives of Indigenous and people of colour matter. They are moving in a direction to “Plan” a comprehensive, in depth analysis of how to chart a path of being inclusive and equitable within their organizations. It is believed this will be a long arduous task, one which will last many lifetimes, but one that must be journeyed to be a benefit to all. The National Brotherhood of Skiers has made progress forming new partnerships and alliances with several leading sponsors and organizations within the snowsports industry.

We are also pleased with the hiring of Robert “Bobby” Johnson Jr., an African American, to the position of Snowsports School Director at Magic Mountain in the State of Vermont.

There will be new challenges to face, new protocols, and mandates to follow. The snowsports industry will move forward with the season as best they can. We must plan accordingly and be willing to adjust our schedules, anticipate delays and be prepared to adapt to sudden changes. Face coverings will be required at all ski areas and social/physical distancing shall be maintained where and when possible. Guidelines have been established for the loading of chairlifts and gondolas. Access to the mountains will be managed by the resorts to ensure guests will have the space they need to fully enjoy the environment. Most resorts will have a reservation system in place to ensure a safe operating and recreational experience for all skiers, riders and guests.

The snowsports industry is confronting the challenges of racial equity as well as COVID-19; and the NBS will continue to stay safe and advocate for social justice and racial equity. The landscape is changing in many ways – let’s all do our part to make this a better, more beautiful and safer world. Enjoy & be safe! Happy skiing and riding!!

ABOUT HENRI RIVERS

Henri Rivers is the President of the National Brotherhood of Skiers, as well as a native New Yorker and an avid skier and outdoor enthusiast for over 45 years. He is a professional ski instructor, certified master teacher and children’s specialist as well as a U.S. Ski & Snowboard Alpine coach, jury advisor, referee and official. He coaches in the Alpine race program at Windham Mountain in the Catskill region of New York.

Henri attended Marist College and received a B.S. in Biology in 1982. He worked for several companies as a construction engineer and project manager before founding and managing the Drumriver Companies.

Henri became involved with the National Brotherhood of Skiers in 1996 and has held many positions within the organization. He started as a club president and moved on to become the mid-west regional competition director. In 2003 he became a coach for the national team of NBS and in 2008 was appointed the Olympic Scholarship Fund Administrator. During his tenure as OSF administrator, he grew the national team to 15 athletes. In 2016 he was appointed the National Competition Director and in 2018 was voted in as the Executive Vice President of the National Brotherhood of Skiers. He served for two years and was elected National President of the NBS in March of 2020.

Visit the National Brotherhood on Skiers website at http://www.nbs.org/ and on Social Media: FacebookInstagramYouTube and Twitter.