We are heartbroken to learn that the search for our friend and colleague, Raph Rinaldi, has ended

Everyone at GB Snowsport is heartbroken to learn that the search for our friend and colleague, Raph Rinaldi, who has been missing in the Italian Alps for the past week-and-a-half has now ended.

A substantial search party involving local rescue teams was involved in attempting to locate Raph after he failed to meet a relative at the Giro D’Italia.

Raph has been a significant part of GB Snowsport’s Paralympic team this cycle supporting all Paralympic disciplines, and most recently attending the Beijing Paralympic Winter Games as Lead Physio for the Para Alpine squad.

Jayne Kavanagh, Head of Paralympic Programmes, said: “We are all devastated to receive this terribly sad news about Raph. He was such an important member of the GB Snowsport team; staff and athletes are all shocked by his disappearance. Our thoughts are with Raph’s family and friends and we will continue to offer our support however we can.”

This week heralds the return of UK Anti-Doping’s crucial ‘Clean Sport Week’ campaign

As UK Anti-Doping’s Clean Sport Week campaign returns for 2022, we are proud to restate our commitment to Clean Sport across all our disciplines, and at every level of British snowsport.

Every year, anti-doping breaches in sport make headline news here in Britain and around the world, with athletes intentionally or unintentionally risking their careers by failing to adhere to anti-doping regulations. As the National Governing Body responsible for Britain’s high-performance skiing and snowboarding programme, we are determined that no British athlete should ever be unaware of the support and education available to them to ensure they do not fall victim to anti-doping violations. We also invest significantly in supporting coaches to complete Coach Clean training programmes, providing security and up-to-date knowledge to our country’s leading coaching talent.

Our education programme spans all teams, athletes, and disciplines within the British high-performance system, and we are also proud to work closely with UK Anti-Doping and the British Home Nations Governing Bodies to make resources and education support available to athletes and coaches at every level of skiing and snowboarding in Britain.

We are ever grateful to UK Anti-Doping for their world-leading programme of support to sports, coaches, and athletes on anti-doping practices, and we fully support their dedication to raising awareness around anti-doping for the good of athletes, federations, and the whole of the UK’s sporting community.

For more information on GB Snowsport’s Clean Sport resources for athletes, coaches, and support teams visit: https://gbsnowsport.com/anti-doping/

To find out more about UK Anti-Doping’s Clean Sport Week 2022, visit https://www.ukad.org.uk/clean-sport-week-2022

The Games finally get underway with the Alpine and Nordic squads in action

Alpine – Downhill

The Alpine skiing programme begins on Day 1 of the Games, with British prospects in the Visually Impaired and Standing classifications.

PyeongChang medallists Millie Knight guided by Brett Wild, and Menna Fitzpatrick guided by Gary Smith will be looking to make their mark in the Women’s Visually Impaired (VI) races, while a Paralympic debut is in the offing for Neil Simpson and guide Andrew Simpson in the Men’s VI contest.

James Whitley rounds out British Alpine interest on the first day of the Games in the Men’s Standing classification.

Watch on: Channel 4 and the Paralympic Games YouTube channel

Biathlon – Men’s Sprint Sitting

Scott Meenagh and Callum Deboys are set to go in the first of the Games’ Biathlon contests which gets underway at 2:40am. Meenagh will be returning for his second tilt at the Paralympics, while for Deboys the Men’s Sprint Sitting race marks his first taste of the Games.

Watch on: Across Channel 4’s output and the Paralympic Games YouTube channel

Header Image: Neil Simpson and Andrew Simpson at the World Para Snow Sports Championships in Lillehammer, January 2022 – Photo: Luc Percival Photography.

Like everyone in Britain and around the world, GB Snowsport has watched with horror and dismay the indefensible actions of Russia and its allies against Ukraine.

While sport is far from the most important consideration in this moment, we wholeheartedly support actions taken by national and international sporting federations in sanctioning Russian and Belarusian sport agencies.

We stand firmly behind FIS’ decision to bar the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes from FIS competition for the remainder of the season, and we endorse the positions stated by UK Sport, the British Olympic Association, the British Paralympic Association, and other British sporting institutions. We further note the decision made by the IPC this morning with regards to the Paralympic Winter Games, and continue to work closely with the BPA in supporting their on-going considerations in relation to the Games.

We offer our support and solidarity to all Ukrainian members of the ski and snowboard family at this dark time.

Zoe Atkin fell, got back up, and grabbed a top-10, while Ollie Davies got his first taste of Olympic action

Atkin recovers from early wobbles to bank top-10 finish

Zoe Atkin’s Freeski Halfpipe Final got off to the worst possible start with two falls on her first two runs, but a brave third shot was enough to bank her a top-10 finish on her Olympic debut. Having qualified for the Finals in fourth place, hopes were high for Atkin going into the Finals, but a combination of challenging conditions and efforts to push the difficulty of her runs to challenge for medal positions saw her first two runs end in falls.

After speaking to her sister Izzy, an Olympic medallist in 2018, Zoe managed to hold her composure to put down a 73.25 on her third run and secure a ninth place finish in her first shot at the Olympic Winter Games.

Afterwards, Zoe said:

“On my first two runs I fell, so I definitely had some pressure on me on the third run.

“I wanted to put down a better run but unfortunately I just didn’t really have the speed for the tricks I wanted to complete.

“I opted for a safety run to put one down. I’ve got mixed feelings as I wasn’t able to do the run that I wanted to and be higher up in the ranks but I’m still in the Olympic final on my Olympic debut.

“I planned a harder run than my qualifciation one and as soon as I landed my second trick, I was going into my third and I knew I didn’t have the speed – I only went a foot out of the halfpipe. I did the best I could with the speed I had.

“I know [Izzy’s] gutted she wasn’t able to be here to watch me and support but I know she’s at home watching and supporting me from afar.

“I called her after my second run because I was a little teary – I was really nervous. She gave me some advice and told me that I got it. She’s here in spirit.

“I learned a lot. Putting one down under pressure and being able to get over the excitement of such a big competition.

“I’m hoping I can learn some bigger tricks and go bigger out of the halfpipe and get a lot smoother with my skiing and be able to put one down in 2026.”

Zoe Atkin during Freeski Halfpipe Finals at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games on the 18th February 2022 at Genting Snow Park in Zhangjakou, China. Photo by Sam Mellish / Team GB.

Davies Debut ends at last-32 stage

Ollie Davies became Britain’s first ever male Olympic Ski-Cross competitor as the 24-year-old made his Olympic debut a year on from his stunning fourth place finish at the 2021 World Ski Championships. Finishing his Seeding Run in 31st position, Davies came fourth in his last-32 heat, with the ROC’s Igor Omelin and Canada’s Kevin Drury progressing to the Quarter Finals.

For Davies, the Olympic appearance marks exciting progress for an athlete who was only taking their first steps onto the World Cup circuit at the time of the PyeongChang Games in 2018.

After his elimination, Davies said:

“It’s pretty raw right now, I’m pretty gutted. I made a mistake at the start and I was playing catch-up from then onwards.

“It’s a track that’s not particularly easy to pass and I was too far off at the back from one mistake at the start, that’s it.

“I want to come back and do better. Same thing, more work, more grind and just as much racing to come back stronger.

“Right now I’m still processing what happened but hopefully I can reflect and come back.”

Ollie Davies during Ski Cross Seeding at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games on the 18th February 2022 at Genting Snow Park in Zhangjakou, China. Photo by Sam Mellish / Team GB.

Header Image: Zoe Atkin during Freeski Halfpipe Finals at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games on the 18th February 2022 at Genting Snow Park in Zhangjakou, China. Photo by Sam Mellish / Team GB.

21 GB Snowsport selected to compete for Team GB at Beijing Olympic Winter Games

The British Olympic Association (BOA) has today announced the 18 skiers and three snowboarders selected to represent Team GB at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

GB Snowsport athletes will represent the nation in nine disciplines during the Games, with nine athletes selected for Team GB for the first time.

For the remaining twelve squad members, Beijing will mark a return to the Olympic Winter Games, with Alpine skier, Dave Ryding, and Nordic skiers Andrew Musgrave and Andrew Young each set to appear in their fourth Olympic Winter Games.

Reigning Snowboard Cross World Champion, Charlotte Bankes, and Sochi 2014 silver medallist, Gus Kenworthy, will each be competing in their third Olympic Winter Games, but their first for Team GB, Bankes having represented France in 2014 and 2018, and Kenworthy the USA.

The athletes head to Beijing in excellent form, with promising early season results across all disciplines and, in Bankes, a reigning World Champion and current World Cup points leader in Snowboard Cross.

The 11 male and 10 female athletes selected will be looking to build on Britain’s recent successes in international ski and snowboard competition, which includes five FIS, Europa Cup and World Cup podium positions from this season alone.

GB Snowsport Olympic Team Manager, Sophie Morrison, said:

Today’s squad announcement is an exciting moment for everybody connected to GB Snowsport, for each athlete selected, their friends and families, and for the country as a whole. This was the most competitive selection process that a British skiing and snowboarding team has ever undergone, and every athlete selected richly deserves their place on the team. This is also an important moment to acknowledge the incredible efforts of those athletes who missed out on selection, but whose performances on snow and in training have helped push all of us to raise our game in readiness for Beijing.”

Vicky Gosling, GB Snowsport Chief Executive, also paid tribute to the selected athletes, saying:

Whatever the outcome in the coming weeks, this is an incredibly exciting squad, and every athlete selected deserves huge congratulations for their efforts to reach this point. We are enormously grateful to UK Sport, the National Lottery, the British Olympic Association, and all our supporters and partners for their backing over the past few years and for helping us prepare such a richly talented squad for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

“I would also like to pay tribute to the work of all our coaches, physios, sport scientists, technicians, support and admin staff, and every other team member who has helped prepare the team for the Olympic Winter Games. The strength of this squad is a testament to all the hard work which has gone on behind the scenes over the past four years.”

GB Snowsport Head Coach, Pat Sharples, added:

I’m so proud of every single athlete who’s been selected for the Olympic Winter Games squad today. Behind every name on this list is a huge amount of hard work, determination, and commitment, and every single squad member really deserves their place.

“It’s true, though, that the hard work is only just beginning. The next few weeks are going to be a huge challenge, but we back every athlete on this squad to do themselves and their country proud in Beijing.”

Georgie Harland, Team GB Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Chef de Mission, said:

“With just two weeks to go until the Beijing 2022 Olympic Ceremony I am delighted to welcome the 21 ski and snowboard athletes selected today to Team GB, for our final sport team announcement.

It is great to see representation across more disciplines than we have taken to a Games before and equally fantastic mix of both youth and experience as we welcome nine Olympic debutants to the team.

The squad has proved themselves to be extremely competitive on the world stage over the past few seasons and I look forward to seeing them perform on the Olympic stage in just a couple weeks’ time.”

Dave Ryding, Alpine World Cup squad member and three-time Olympian, said:

It’s such a huge honour to be named as part of Team GB again, and I can’t wait to get out there and get racing. As athletes, we take all our competitions seriously, but there’s something undeniably special about representing the country at an Olympic Games.

“This is a really exciting time for British skiing and snowboarding, and like the whole squad I’m looking forward to giving my all in Beijing.”

full list of GB Snowsport athletes selected to represent Team GB in Beijing:

Alpine:

Men’s

Women’s

Freestyle Ski:

Aerials

Moguls – Men’s

Moguls – Women’s

Ski Cross

Freeski Halfpipe – Men’s

Freeski Halfpipe – Women’s

Freeski Slopestyle & Big Air – Men’s

Freeski Slopestyle & Big Air – Women’s

Cross Country

Snowboard

Snowboard Cross – Men’s

Snowboard Cross – Women’s

Snowboard Slopestyle & Big Air

* denotes athlete selected for Team GB for the first time

Ahead of the World PAra Snow Sports Championships, we take a look at what to expect from the British squad in Norway

The World Para Snow Sports Championships, which get underway this week in Lillehammer, Norway, marks the biggest Para Snow Sports competition in the country since the 1994 Paralympic Winter Games.

GB Snowsport has named its largest ever squad for a World Para Snow Sports Championships, with 18 athletes and 5 guides travelling out for the competition.

Who’s in the squad?

The GB team was named on 23 December, and contains a mix of experienced World Championships athletes and some of the most exciting new names in world Para Snowsport.

PARA ALPINE

  • Shona Brownlee
  • Menna Fitzpatrick (Guide: Katie Guest)
  • Millie Knight (Guide: Brett Wild)
  • Neil Simpson (Guide: Andrew Simpson)
  • Dan Sheen
  • Alex Slegg
  • James Whitley
  • Adam Hall (Supporting Guide)
  • Gary Smith (Supporting Guide)

PARA NORDIC

  • Steve Arnold
  • Callum Deboys
  • Hope Gordon
  • Scott Meenagh
  • Steve Thomas

PARA SNOWBOARD

  • James Barnes-Miller
  • Jon-Allan Butterworth
  • Ollie Hill
  • Andy MacLeod
  • Owen Pick
  • Nina Sparks

When does it get underway?

Competition starts on 13 January, with Para Alpine Downhill and Cross Country Middle Distance. The Para Snowboard programme gets underway on 14 January with the Dual Banked Slalom races.

How have the preparations gone?

GB’s Para Snowsport squad have already put down some impressive results this season, with Alex Slegg, Shona Brownlee, Menna Fitzpatrick, Millie Knight, Neil Simpson, and James Barnes-Miller all notching podium finishes in World Cup competitions ahead of the Championships.

The Para Nordic squad have also been on good form, and are benefiting from their first season in the new Williams Advanced Engineering designed sit-ski rigs which were unveiled late last year.

How can I watch the Events?

All Para Alpine, Para Nordic and Para Snowboard events will be streamed live on the World Para Snow Sports Facebook page: www.facebook.com/parasnowsports and live links will be available via the International Paralympic Committee’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/c/paralympics

Where can I find out more?

The official Championships website has all the latest information, including details on all of the events, at www.paralympic.org/lillehammer-2021

We’ll be bringing you news of British performances and results as soon as we get them across GB Snowsport’s social media channels.

Header Image: James Barnes-Miller at the Paracross World Cup, Pyha, 2021

GB Snowsport Chief Executive, Vicky Gosling, looks at what’s to come in an exciting year for British skiing and snowboarding

Like everybody involved in high-performance winter sports, I’ve had 2022 circled in my calendar for what feels like a lifetime. And while the past two years have been dominated by talk of covid-19 and its impact on what an Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will look like, for most of us involved in the effort to bring British athletes to the competitions, the focus has never wavered.

What that doesn’t mean, though, is that our entire focus is on what happens in Beijing over the next few months. 2022 is shaping up to be an incredibly exciting year for snowsport in Britain and while the Olympics and Paralympics are a key part of that, they’re far from the only reason to be enthused.

Already this season, we’ve seen some exceptional results and performances from British athletes in competitions across the world. Some of our household name athletes – athletes like Charlotte Bankes, Zoe Atkin, Dave Ryding, Menna Fitzpatrick, Charlie Guest, Andrew Musgrave, Kirsty Muir, Chris McCormick – have been leading the way, but we’ve got reason to feel extremely excited by some of the coming generation too.

Reece Bell’s World Cup debut brought a real sense of excitement, along with the very welcome sight of a member of the Bell family once again racing World Cups in British colours. Nina Sparks and Shona Brownlee have both delivered some astonishing performances in the Para Snowboard and Para Alpine squads. Max Vaughton has transferred to Ski Cross as if he was born for the discipline. Mani Cooper is looking like one of the nation’s brightest sporting prospects. Connie Brogden’s back on snow and looking the part again. Mia Brookes catches the attention every single time she competes.

Those performances from some of our newer and younger athletes are an indication of what we’re trying to build, and why this year is so important. We want to harness the enthusiasm that people have for snowsport and turn it into a powerful tool to capture the next generation’s attention, and we want to do it in a way that’s sustainable for the future.

We want to work more closely with the country’s Home Nations Governing Bodies on a host of areas – from pipeline to diversity and sustainability – to ensure the country has a purposeful, integrated approach to skiing and snowboarding.

And we want to foster a culture that makes snowsport the most welcoming place for athletes, coaches, staff and supporters to compete and work as their authentic selves, in a way that reflects 21st century Britain.

All of these are reasons to be excited in 2022 that extend far beyond the reach of the coming Games.

Returning for a moment to thoughts of Beijing, though, we do need to accept that these will be a Winter Games like no other. The experiences of our summer counterparts in Tokyo last year can provide some indication, but whether it’s first-time Olympians and Paralympians, or those who’ve represented the nation in Vancouver, Sochi, or PyeongChang, the experience is going to be very different to what might have been expected just a couple of years ago. And, like every country participating, we can’t escape the shadow of covid. It’s highly possible that some athletes will find the spread of covid impacts their Games preparation or, worse still, prevents them from participating at all. That’s not a situation we want to confront, but it’s one that we must be prepared for anyway.

We know that the eyes of the country will be on our sport and our athletes in the coming months in a way we rarely get to experience it. It’s right that we’re excited about that, and it’s the reason that 2022 has been marked in my calendar for such a long time now.

But the biggest reasons for excitement are the ones that point beyond Beijing, to an ever more successful future for British skiers and snowboarders, and all that we can achieve together.

Throughout the 2021/22 Season, GB Snowsport and Redrow will be finding out where it all began for some of Britain’s top athletes and coaches as they prepare for and compete in one of the biggest snowsport seasons in recent memory.

ANDREW SIMPSON IS A FULL TIME PARA ALPINE GUIDE FOR GB SNOWSPORT, CURRENTLY GUIDING his brother Neil Simpson

I was born in… Aberdeen in March 2000

I got into skiing… at an age of 5 at Aberdeen Snowsport Centre, close to my home. Unfortunately, I managed to break my arm during the first block of lessons but recovered quickly after only 6 weeks! 

I started my skiing career… with a local race club called Gordon Skiers training at Alford on a dry slope

I started my career as a guide… when my brother (Neil Simpson) was classified for VI skiing

I also work… with Neil and our dad on our family business when we are at home

I felt the proudest when… we managed to get our first World Cup podium after a long chase. Shortly after we won our first podium, we topped the excitement with our first World Cup gold medal 

I am also proud of… my achievements outside of skiing in other sports, especially sailing, as well as getting into university

When I am travelling I most miss… the comfort of my own bed and my family

I enjoy… the company of my brother and staying in touch with my family while traveling the World Cup circuit 

I am grateful for… the opportunity to compete for GB Snowsport. A positive team environment and excellent coaching has allowed us to achieve outstanding results

I stay well rested by… having a dark and quiet room with a comfortable pillow. I am also a fan of homely comfort foods; you can’t beat a freshly cooked batch of lasagne!

I consider… Ted Ligety and Lindsey Vonn as my biggest role models and inspiration while growing up, and recently it has been a pleasure and motivation to watch British athletes like Dave Ryding and Alex Tilley achieve such amazing results

I am also thankful… to our parents for being supportive throughout our journey as we would not be able to achieve this without them

I stayed fit during lockdown… by managing to order equipment just before lockdown started. A squat rack and weights have managed to keep us both fit and training as normal

I enjoy… spending time with our dog after getting back home. As they say, “home is where the heart is”, for me this translates to spending time with my family

I relax the most when… I am in my room listening to music

I like to hang… pictures of us from our travels and races as a home décor in our house

I think… that training with my brother has certainly strengthened our bond and taught us how to work closely together. We used to be very competitive when we were younger but now we have learned how to bring the best out of each other

My advice for young athletes is… join your local race club and be consistent. Joining your local club will provide loads of fun racing opportunities to test your abilities

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