SportsAid Week 2021 will celebrate the charity’s 45th anniversary with a drive to raise £45,000 to support talented young athletes aspiring to be the country’s next Olympic, Paralympic, Commonwealth and world champions.
Since its foundation in 1976 as the Sports Aid Foundation, SportsAid has helped tens of thousands of British athletes, including the winners of 141 medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games. In recent years, talented young British skiers and snowboarders including GB Freestyle Snowboard World Cup Squad member Ethan Smith (18), GB Freestyle Snowboard B Squad members Koby Cook (17) and Liam Tynan (16), GB Freeski B Squad member Jasper Klein (19), and Alpine GB Europa Cup Squad member Reece Bell (20) have all been among the charity’s beneficiaries, supporting the British snowsport talent pipeline.
SportsAid Week 2021 gets underway on Monday 20 September with the charity encouraging people across the country to mark the occasion by getting active and raising valuable funds for talented young athletes through challenges linked to the numbers 45, 450, 4,500 or 45,000. Funds raised through the #MyMiles challenge will go towards supporting SportsAid’s continued investment into the country’s brightest young sporting talent.
Sportsaid grant recipient and current alpine europa cup squad member, reece bell, paid tribute to the impact of sportsaid saying:
“As a young athlete, I dream of representing my country on the world’s biggest stages and continuing the proud tradition of British sporting success. The support I’ve had from SportsAid hasn’t just helped financially; it’s also helped to reinfoce the belief that I’m on the right track as I look to grow and develop in my sport. That’s why I’m backing the #MyMiles campaign for SportsAid Week 2021 with my own running and cycling challenge to celebrate the charity’s 45th anniversary!“
mark ritchie, gb snowsport head of talent, said:
“SportsAid’s reputation as an important part of Britain’s commitment to developing young athletes is well-deserved. As they gear up to celebrate their 45th anniversary, we feel it’s important to acknowledge their support to young British skiers and snowboarders. At a time where British snowsport prospects are brighter than ever, SportsAid’s work continues to play a vital role in supporting the talent pipeline.”
To find out more about SportsAid Week 2021 and the charity’s #MyMiles campaign, visit www.sportsaid.org.uk/get-involved/sportsaid-week/
GB Snowsport – SportsAid Supported Athletes
- Reece Bell – Alpine, Europa Cup Squad
- Koby Cook – Freestyle Snowboard, B Squad
- Jasper Klein – Freeski, B Squad
- Ethan Smith – Freestyle Snowboard, World Cup Squad
- Liam Tynan – Freestyle Snowboard, B Squad
GB Snowsport Strength & Conditioning coach Jack Birch works behind the scenes to help athletes achieve their sporting ambitions, with an aim to develop athletes that are not only physically strong, but mentally strong too.
How and why did you get into strength & conditioning?
“From a young age I’ve always been obsessed with sport, the outdoors and competition and I was incredibly lucky to be exposed to all three growing up on the coast in Devon, with awesome family and friends and playing every sport imaginable. I’ve always been involved in sport competitively from a young age mainly through surfing, skateboarding and football but never quite made it to an elite level, through a variety of reasons (not being good enough as the main one!). After this realisation, I set my sights on figuring out how to stay in sport when I realised I could never do a normal 9-5 wearing a suit, in an office (after working a summer for my dad as an accountant), so set out on finding my path far away from that! Strength & conditioning allowed me to work with elite athletes, in a gym or outdoors and help prepare them for the highest levels of competition. This ticked all the boxes for me, and the pursuit to work outdoors, with sports I love, and athletes that want to do extraordinary things, is an incredible reality for me at the moment.”
What are the main goals of a strength & conditioning coach?
“The main goals of a Strength & Conditioning (S & C) coach are primarily to work with the coaches and support staff to provide training, on all elements of physical preparation for an athlete. Getting an athlete ‘strong’ may be a part of this but there are a variety of other roles an S & C coach can often have. The goals as a coach are hugely dependent on the athlete, their ambitions, characteristics, and preferences (among other things), however the goals of an S & C coach crudely can often be broken down to two main areas:
1. Maximise Performance in their Sport
2. Reduce Injury Risk
As a coach if I can play a part in an athletes life to enable them to achieve their sporting ambitions and help develop a physically and mentally robust human, that can leave their sport on their own terms (not through injury, fall out of love etc), then my job is done!”
How do you help to build mental strength with the athletes?
“Mental strength or ‘resilience’ is something that comes in a variety of forms and is usually crafted throughout an athletes experiences over the course of their lives. Resilience can defined as, ‘an individual’s ability to successfully adapt to life tasks in highly adverse conditions,’ and the team of people closest to the athlete in their family, friends, coaches and support staff will probably all play a role at some point in developing this resilience. I truly do believe that mental resilience can be built through training, whether recovering from an injury, carry out tough training sessions or even turning up to train when you really don’t want to! As Archilochus said: “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.’”
How do you get the athletes motivated?
“I usually don’t see my role as a motivator! However, there are a lot of athletes that don’t enjoy training in the gym (which I understand!), so making sessions fun, individualised and engaging is key. However, acquiring an understanding of what an athlete is motivated by and then tailoring your programmes towards that is pretty crucial for consistent engagement. Once you have this sorted, then hopefully the motivation can take care of itself.”
Is there a difference in training framework between the different GB Snowsport teams? If so, how do you cater to these differences?
“There are quite a few differences in the training structure of the different GB Snowsport teams, particularly considering the range of athletes between Olympic and Paralympic as well as the variety of sports from freestyle to cross country. What it takes to be successful is different for every sport, so the way in which we structure training is based on the individual and the requirements of success at that sport. Catering for these differences requires a solid understanding of the athletes’ needs, coaching styles and successful determinants of the sport. For example; a cross country skier that carries out ~1000hrs a year of mainly low intensity training; skiing, running or cycling with an event that lasts around 2 hours needs to be trained completely differently to a Slopestyle snowboarder, that carries out 600-1000hrs of training, mainly riding in snowparks carrying out a variety of explosive spins, rails, grabs and flips, as well as other boardsports (skateboarding, surfing) and gymnastic training, in a competitive event that lasts under a minute! They both share the snow but are very different in their demands.”
What are the most frequent injuries and mistakes while training and how can athletes avoid them?
“Unfortunately, injuries are a common occurrence in snowsports and can happen on different body parts for a variety of reasons. Each sport has their own unique demands which place different stresses on specific body parts, so training in the gym needs to be suited to that. The most frequent and significant injuries in snowsports are typically traumatic knee injuries, however in the endurance setting of Cross Country and Para Nordic it is typically, the chronic overuse injuries at knees/achilles or back/shoulder. The most common mistake athletes make when training is often ‘overtraining’, by doing ‘too much, too soon’ and overloading the body with more stress than it can handle. A couple key things athletes could do to avoid these types of injuries are:
- Consistent and gradual progressions in training volume, intensity and variation
- A basic strength training programme that focuses on effective jumping and landing mechanics, as well as keeping the major muscles around the knee and hip strong”
What’s your favourite exercise in the weights room?
“My favourite exercises in the weight room are probably the deadlift and pull up. The deadlift is essentially picking something heavy off the floor in the most efficient way possible, and requires effective coordination of major muscle groups, across multiple joints, using a hinging and pulling motion. The pull up is one of the key exercises for building upper body strength, improving shoulder health and developing grip strength. Nowadays we spend a lot of time sitting, hunched over our desks or phones and then bench pressing when we head to the gym, which typically does not help our posture so throwing in some pullups to our training can help! Although my favourite exercise is usually outside of the weight room; surfing, snowboarding, jiu jitsu or cycling!”
“For any questions/tips, feel free to fire me a message @CoachJackBirch on IG.”
From delivering training sessions to treating concussions, no day looks the same for GB Snowsport Physio Lawrence Sonvico.
How and why did you get into physiotherapy? What kind of experience and education do you need?
“Growing up I played lots of different sports and through injuries I picked up, I was lucky enough to receive some fantastic physiotherapy support, which sparked an interest in the area. I really enjoy problem solving and my role provides a fantastic opportunity to combine this with my love of sport.
“The standard entry into physiotherapy is through A-Levels and then a physiotherapy degree, however there are other routes in via pre-registration masters degrees and degree standard apprenticeships.”
What are your main activities as a physiotherapist?
“My role is extremely varied across all the GB Snowsport disciplines and no day looks the same. Our main role is to support the athletes and coaches through periods of injury and rehabilitation and to work to keep the athletes healthy and on snow, while supporting performance goals. As a physio we spend a significant amount of time with the athletes and coaches but also work closely with the wider support team to deliver training sessions and programmes to support recovery, rehabilitation, risk mitigation and sporting performance.”
How do your services support the athletes and help them reach their goals?
“We are very lucky to travel to some very cool locations for training and competition and also works in some of the best sports facilities in the world. Through spending time with the coaches and athletes and understanding the technical and tactical requirements of a sport, we work closely with the wider support team to build individualised programmes and strategies to optimise health and performance.”
What are the most common injuries you find yourself treating?
“In snow sports the biggest issue we see, as I’m sure you can guess, are knees, shoulders and concussions. With the speeds and tricks our athletes perform, there are lots of risks associated with the sport, however, we try and help them develop the physical qualities required to go again another day.”
What’s the best part of your job as a physiotherapist?
“There are so many great parts, for me the best part is to see an athlete reach their potential. This doesn’t always mean winning medals, but to a small part in supporting an athlete who achieves, maybe more than they thought was possible, really is special… But also I do often get to commute to work on a pair of skis!!”
The British ski and snowboard national foundation’s #backingbritishsnowsport summer fundraising campaign has received more than £10k in donations this summer.
The incredible generosity of fans and supporters of British skiing and snowboarding has been on show this summer as people from across the world have given their backing to the charity’s on-going support to talented British athletes.
As a nation, Britain is fortunate to enjoy high levels of continued financial investment into elite sport, with the occasion this weekend of the nation’s 1000th Olympic and Paralympic medal since the introduction in 1997 of National Lottery funding showing the massive impact it has had on British sporting success. At the highest levels, funding and investment from UK Sport and the National Lottery has helped to propel British snowsport athletes to levels of success never seen before. Nevertheless, many athletes, particularly those in the earlier stages of their careers, face tough financial decisions as they progress in their own careers and build towards world class performances.
Snowsport in Britain is indebted to the work of BSSNF, whose commitment to supporting new generations of athletes to develop and prosper continued to build the pool of talent available to the nation. Funding and grants made by the Foundation play a vital role in reducing barriers for young athletes and creating new opportunities for success at every level and in every disciple of snowsport.
GB Snowsport Moguls World Cup squad member, Matéo Jeannesson, explains how funding support creates new opportunities for British athletes
As the #BackingBritishSnowsport campaign enters its final month, GB Snowsport is proud to continue supporting BSSNF’s fundraising efforts by making available two new prizes, with entries available from just £10.
- A private training session with GB Snowsport Head Coach, Pat Sharples
- A dedicated yoga experience with on of GB’s top current athletes
To find out more about the campaign, to show your backing, and to access some of the remaining rewards and prize draws, visit:
- Backing British Snowsport – Donor Rewards
- Prize Draw: Win a coaching session with GB Snowsport Head Coach, Pat Sharples
- Prize Draw: Yoga session with one of Britain’s top snowsport athletes
Like millions of people around the world, I can’t wait for the start of the Paralympics.
What it represents – elite sport of the absolute highest levels, and the chance for athletes to make a name for themselves that will go down in history – is unmatched in anywhere except for a few sports.
For an athlete, the Paralympic Games really are the pinnacle.
Where I suppose I’m different from a lot of people looking forward to the start of the Paralympics, though, is that I’m really looking forward to two Paralympics. First, as a spectator, the Tokyo Games and second, as an athlete and assuming the next few months go to plan, the Beijing Games next year.
Assuming I do get there, Beijing won’t be my first experience of the Paralympics.
In 2018 I returned home with a gold, two silvers and a bronze medal from the PyeongChang Games, and I can still remember everything about the athlete experience, so I can give a pretty good guess at how the team are feeling now they’re out there and waiting for the Opening Ceremony to begin. Probably some nervousness, some excitement and a lot of focus as their individual competitions come onto the horizon.
For me, I’m looking forward to getting to sit back and enjoy the next couple of weeks as a fan.
The past 18 months has been incredibly difficult for disabled people, and the Paralympics – both the coming Summer Games and the imminent Winter Games – are an important reminder that disability needn’t be a barrier to success in any field, least of all sport.
Across para-sport, there’s a real community, with athletes, coaches and team members working and celebrating together, even when we’re competing against one another. With that community comes a whole lot of support, so I’m sure that most Winter Paralympic hopefuls will, like me, be taking every opportunity to see how our summer counterparts are getting on, even as we’re preparing for a hard winter of training and competition.
There’s an exciting fortnight ahead – it’ll be worth tuning in for.
Menna Fitzpatrick is a Para Alpine athlete and Great Britain’s most decorated Winter Paralympian, having won one gold, two silver and a bronze medal at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang.
Photo: Jasmin Taylor in the World Cup Finals Sprint in Thyon by 360 EBORNET
British Telemark hopes will be represented by an eight-strong World Cup squad and a seven-strong FIS squad this year, as GB Snowsport confirms national team selections for the 2021/22 season.
Following a disrupted 2020/21 competition programme as the impacts of the covid-19 pandemic were felt across the global snowsports community, which nevertheless saw some excellent results including Jasmin Taylor’s fifth place finishes in Classic and Spring at the World Ski Championships in Melschee-Frutt, British Telemark skiers will face an intensive autumn training programme ahead of the winter race schedule.
Last season’s A Squad of Sion Bingham, Colin Dixon, Ben Emsley, Louis Hatchwell, Jasmin Taylor, and Jasper Taylor will be joined by Alec Dixon (former B Squad member) and new member Timoté Gough in an expanded World Cup Squad, while last season’s B Squad and C Squad members, Louis Blyth, Sissi Compton, Jack Emsley, Harry Fletcher, Robbie Houston, Magnus McIntosh, and Bonnie Price will form a new combined FIS team.
Adrian Pery, GB Snowsport Telemark Committee lead, welcomed the squad announcement saying: “After a heavily covid-impacted season for our Telemark skiers last year, it’s really positive to be able to name such a deep and talented pair of squads for the year ahead. Every athlete selected has shown real commitment to their sport over the past twelve months, and every one of them is hugely deserving of their chance to represent the country this season.”
Jasmin Taylor, Telemark World Cup Squad Member, said: “I’m excited to be part of a really strong British squad heading into the new season. It’s great to share this experience with such a talented group of athletes and it helps us all to push and find the next level. That motivation that is going to be important for us over the next year.”
The 2021/22 Telemark season is scheduled to get underway in December in Hintertux, Austria.
Telemark World Cup Squad:
Sion Bingham, Alec Dixon, Colin Dixon, Ben Emsley, Timoté Gough, Louis Hatchwell, Jasmin Taylor, Jasper Taylor
Telemark FIS Squad:
Louis Blyth, Sissi Compton, Jack Emsley, Harry Fletcher, Robbie Houston, Magnus McIntosh, Bonnie Price
GB snowsport chief executive, vicky gosling, explains why we’ll be keeping a close eye on the olympic and paralympic games in tokyo
After everything we’ve experienced over the past 18 months, you’d be forgiven for thinking we’re all used to weird situations. But there is something genuinely strange about seeing British athletes preparing to take to Tokyo for the Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games, knowing our Winter Games are just a few short months away.
Normally at the beginning of a Summer Games we’d be just over halfway through our preparation cycle. A busy time, certainly, but one where we’re still able to switch our focus, just a little bit, to cheering on our compatriots in their own Olympic and Paralympic Games. This year, though, we’re just over six months away from the opening ceremony in Beijing and the experiences of seeing Team GB athletes flying out to Asia knowing we’ll be doing the same thing in just a few short months puts a different perspective on the situation.
It’s also different, of course, because it’s the first glimpse we’ll have of how athletes and teams will cope in a Games in the time of covid. Indeed, as I write this, news emerges of British team members having to isolate due to a close contact on their flight from London to Tokyo.
Of course, we all hope that by next February a little more normality will have returned to the world. But as the Governing Body accountable for 98% of all medals available in the Paralympic Winter Games and 50% at the Olympic Winter Games – the highest level of medal responsibility across any Olympic or Paralympic Governing Body, summer or winter – it would be irresponsible not to be prepared for a situation where covid is still impacting our preparations in some ways this winter.
That’s one area where the British sporting system really works to our benefit.
The accumulation of knowledge and the sharing of best practices across different sports is something British world class teams are well known for. Every experience a British athlete has in Tokyo this summer will become part of the pool of knowledge that informs every British athlete flying out to Beijing next winter. So that’s something we’ll be keeping a close eye on.
We’ll also be watching out for what cycling popularised as the ‘marginal gains’ that can make a difference between a strong performance and a medal-winning performance at Games time. Again, this is where that shared knowledge between sports becomes so valuable – any performance edge we can adapt to a snowsport environment could be the key to bringing home more medals from Beijing, and we’ll be watching that closely too.
There’s another reason we’ll be watching too. And it’s the same reason that millions of Brits will be tuning in every day: because we’re fans.
At GB Snowsport we’ve been working tirelessly to instil a “one team” ethos into our sport, so that whether you’re a VI Skier, a Freestyle Snowboarder, or a Cross Country athlete, you’ll still feel you’re a part of the same team. As far as I’m concerned, the same thing applies to our summer sport counterparts too.
Every athlete that steps out there representing Team GB is an athlete we’ll be right behind; as teammates, as supporters, and as part of a sporting family. We’ll be cheering every success, feeling every setback, and celebrating every medal. And we know that when it’s our turn next winter, they’ll be doing the same thing for us.
Following the launch of BSSNF’s new summer crowdfunding campaign, GB Snowsport Chief Executive, Vicky Gosling, explains why we are getting behind the charity’s fundraising efforts.
As the world prepares for Beijing, it’s time to cast our eyes forward to the years ahead. Who are the athletes that will be representing the nation in 2026, 2030 and 2034? Where are they today? And what are the barriers which could prevent them from achieving their potential?
These questions matter, not only because they’re key to us building on the incredibly successful past year in our sport, but because we want to make sure that any young athlete – whether they’re representing their nation now, or could be in a decade’s time – is given the best support in the world to achieve their potential.
The reality is we do know that many of our young athletes need support and assistance, especially compared to some of their global counterparts. With the greatest will in the world, a young British athlete (and often his, her or their family too) is likely to need to travel further and dedicate more time in the early parts of their career than many of their international contemporaries. As a nation with a limited number of domestic training and competition settings, we are always overcoming more obstacles than our competitors. Those pressures can be fiercest for our youngest athletes.
The pathway systems – ours, the Home Nations’ and many Academies’ – do their utmost to accommodate that support, but sometimes more is needed. And it’s that “something more” which makes the British Ski and Snowboard National Foundation (BSSNF) so important to our country’s future success.
Their support – to young athletes and to disabled athletes – is vital in helping to address some of those barriers and challenges that British snowsport stars can face, particularly early in their careers.
This summer, BSSNF are launching a new crowdfunding appeal – their first – to help ensure that more of our nation’s most talented athletes are able to benefit from their life-changing work and much needed support. Over the past decade, dozens of athletes, many of whom are now regularly competing for Britain on the global stage, have been quietly backed by the Foundation’s incredible work.
Knowing their vision for supporting ever more athletes in the years to come, it was a simple decision for us to get behind the campaign, to offer our support, and to say without hesitation that we believe in their ability to make a meaningful difference to the lives of British athletes now and in the future.
Courtesy of our athletes, coaches, sponsors and partners, we have been able to secure some amazing, once-in-a-lifetime rewards to help incentivise people to give as generously as they can to support the work of BSSNF. This is our way of saying ‘thank you’ for their incredible work and encouraging anybody that can to help them go even further in the years to come.
I hope you’ll agree with me about the importance of BSSNF for British snowsport. If you do, and if you can, I hope you’ll join us in supporting their fundraising campaign. In doing so, know you will have the gratitude of the whole national snowsport community behind you.
in recognition of the british ski and snowboard national foundation‘s considerable support for the nation’s snowsport community, gb snowsport will be supporting bssnf’s summer fundraising campaign
The campaign, which is seeking to raise funds to support more young and disabled athletes to fulfil their potential on the biggest stages, launches today and will run for the next five weeks.
We are delighted to have worked closely with BSSNF and a number of our partners, supporters and athletes to have secured a range of once-in-a-lifetime prizes for supporters of the Foundation’s incredible work. From a week’s stay in a luxury chalet in Méribel, to a day’s skiing with a member of the British Olympic team or the opportunity to be Guest of Honour at the British Alpine Championships in 2022, donors backing the campaign are in with the opportunity to win some incredible rewards.
Established in 2016 to ease financial burdens which risk preventing talented young skiers and snowboarders from excelling in their disciplines, the British Ski and Snowboard National Foundation provides much-needed grant funding to a pool of young and disabled athletes nominated by GB Snowsport and the Home Nations Governing Bodies, Snowsport England, Snowsport Scotland and Snowsport Wales.
This summer’s fundraising campaign will help to ensure that future generations of British athletes are given every opportunity to achieve their potential as more competitors representing the nation than ever before begin to make their mark in skiing and snowboarding events on the global stage.
To find out more about the campaign, to show your own support, and to be in with the chance of winning one of the amazing prizes on offer, visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/bssnf-snowsports