This International Women’s Day, we look at women blazing a trail for GB Snowsport this season
By any measure – and with a few weeks of competition still to go – the 2022-23 season has been a spectacular success for British skiers and snowboarders. And in a year of unprecedented successes, one thing is clear – British women are etching their name into national snowsport history time and time again. This International Women’s Day, we take a closer look at the female athletes blazing a trail for GB Snowsport this season.
Where else to begin, except with perhaps the biggest breakout star in British sport this year? Mia Brookes’ name has been spoken with awe and excitement for years now by those in the know, but on her first season on the World Cup circuit the 16 year old’s raw promise has emerged as fully-fledged success.
From a podium on her Slopestyle World Cup debut in Laax in January to her breathtaking Slopestyle World Championships victory in Bakuriani this month, Mia is fast emerging as one of the most exciting sport talents in Britain. Plus, she’s already written her name into the history books as the first woman to land a cab-1440 in competition.
You could be forgiven for thinking Zoe Atkin has been around forever – 2023 is, after all, her fifth year on the World Cup circuit. But the 20-year-old Freeski Halfpipe sensation has really come into her own this year, a rise she puts down in part to giving herself a mental break after the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing last year. And the results speak for themselves: Gold at X Games 2023, and a brace of silvers at the Bakuriani World Championships and Mammoth Mountain World Cup since the turn of the year.
Zoe’s result in Bakuriani saw her follow in sister Izzy’s footseteps be taking back-to-back World Championships medals, having previously taken bronze at the 2021 World Championships.
What is there to say about Charlotte Bankes, which hasn’t already been said? The reigning Snowboard Cross Crystal Globe holder remains a near-permanent fixture on the World Cup podium, but perhaps more impressive is her resilience and dedication in the face of adversity.
Elimination in the individual Snowboard Cross World Championships contest could have knocked any athlete from their stride, but Charlotte returned alongside Huw Nightingale to deliver a stunning Team Snowboard Cross World Championships title, the first in British history, and ensure she goes down as a back-to-back World Champion, having taken the solo title in 2021.
At 18, Kirsty Muir is already recognised as one of the finest Slopestyle and Big Air skiers in world snowsport, and her performances this year have done nothing to undermine that reputation. Whether it’s double bronze medals at X Games 2023, World Cup silver at Mammoth Mountain in February, or a fourth place that left her agonisingly close to a Big Air medal at the Bakuriani World Championships having suffered an injury ahead of the Slopestyle competition that left any question of participation at the Championships up in the air, Kirsty’s continued excellence marks her out as one of the world’s best despite her young age.
In a remarkable season for the Para Snowboard squad, Nina Sparks has shown her promise with a superb overall victory in the Europa Cup competition. In landing the overall title, she joined fellow teammates James Barnes-Miller and Ollie Hill in taking overall titles, with her two compatriots doing so on their respective World Cup circuits.
In a season full of breakthrough performances, the biggest challenges still lie ahead, with the rescheduled La Molina World Championships getting underway this week, and offering another opportunity for Nina to show her talent on the biggest stages.
Menna Fitzpatrick and Katie Guest
Winter Olympic gold medalist. Three time World Champion. Multiple World Cup medalist. Britain’s most decorated Winter Paralympian. And still just 24 years old.
Menna Fitzpatrick is a phenomenon, and her performances alongside her guide, Katie Guest, this season have continued to show why she is so highly respected on the Para Alpine circuit. Another two medals – a silver and a bronze – at the Para Alpine World Championships added to a medal collection which is near unsurpassed in any British winter sport. A legend of the sport, and an icon in British Paralympic history.
Makayla Gerken Schofield
A trailblazer alongside her siblings, Makayla became the second Gerken Schofield (after her brother, Tom) to achieve a World Cup podium with her bronze medal in Val St Come earlier this year, and the first woman in British history to achieve a Moguls World Cup podium.
Indeed, so exceptional have Makayla’s performances been this season that she has only once dipped below the top-10 on the World Cup stage, before delivering another pair of top-10s including a stunning sixth place in Dual Moguls at the Bakuriani World Championships. A fierce competitor, and a superb talent.
One of the most pre-eminent names in the world of Telemark skiing, Jaz Taylor’s performances this season have added another two World Cup podiums to her already astonishing tally of performances over recent seasons.
With World Championships also on the horizon, Jaz has every opportunity to continue her role as one of Britain’s pre-eminent snowsport athletes.