GB Snowsport to launch Female Athlete Health Project

GB Snowsport to launch Female Athlete Health Project

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.” 

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