Pat Sharples pre-season interview – part 2

Pat Sharples pre-season interview – part 2

“People think it’s a fun, easy lifestyle. It’s amazing, but it’s much harder than people really know”

In part two of our pre-season interview with GB Snowsport Head Coach, Pat Sharples, Pat discusses Milan-Cortina, squad chemistry, and the realities of athlete life

For part one of this interview, click here.

With summer training underway already, what are you as Head Coach looking for from the teams during pre-season? What are the main focuses and the things you really want to see?

We’ve had some incredibly good meetings with all our athletes, with all our coaches. Every athlete’s got their own individual plan, every single one’s very different. Everybody’s got their own goals and targets, and it’s looking at how can we make that happen? How can we help them achieve that through this period?

I think we’re in a really, really good place. That’s all we can ask for right now and from my side, I just want to make sure that we can give the coaches and the support team all the tools and everything they need to then go and support the different teams we have in GB Snowsport.

I feel like we’re in a good place right now. We want to continue on the back of last year. We’re not slowing down, not at all. We want to feel good about what training we’ve had through this summer, and go into the World Cup circuit full throttle, giving it everything.

It’s not a World Championships year, it’s not an Olympic or Paralympic year, but it’s still equally important to us. And it’s not all just about the Olympics and Paralympics for a lot of our athletes, a lot of them have got their own individual performance goals, whether it’s learning a new trick or progressing through the World Cup circuit, and we want to help and support them through all those goals they have.

We know we’ve got a big Freestyle contingent going over to Australia and New Zealand this summer, and a lot of them are going to be spending quite a lot of time together over the next few months. How important is this time in terms of building that team dynamic and the chemistry between the athletes? Is that a big part of it, or is that just something that happens naturally?

What’s really quite challenging, and, I think people who don’t live and breathe it with our athletes and teams might not understand, is it’s actually quite rare for the different disciplines and the athletes from those different disciplines to be training together, because everybody needs different types of facilities. A lot of them are competing at different times of the year, so it’s actually quite rare when you find that the teams can train together.

Freeski and Freestyle Snowboard, the Park & Pipe team, have always done everything very much side-by-side and that’s a huge positive. We need to continue doing that, and we maybe need to do even more of that. Athletes can bounce off each other, coaches can also be there to support each other.

We try to be smart with how we work and how we can bring our teams together. It’s exactly the same with Ski and Snowboard Cross. We do class the Park & Pipe and Ski & Snowboard Crosses as the same teams, however Moguls for example is very rare that you’d get them being in the same place as the others. But it does happen, and when it does, they’re so supportive of each other, they’ll go and meet and spend time together. Even at competitions they’ll go and watch each other compete and be there to support each other, which is great to see.

We’re only a small snowsport team, but we’re incredibly close and supportive of each other as well.

Let’s talk a bit about next season. By the end of it we’re going to be halfway to Milan-Cortina, which seems crazy seeing as it feels like Beijing’s only just finished. What are you looking for this season to know that we’re on the right track?

I think we will know straight away at the end of the season where we stand, and are we on track for Milan-Cortina. As mentioned before, everyone’s got their own different goals and targets throughout this year, but we do set milestone target events very much like we have with the World Championships, the Olympic Games, the Paralympics. Obviously, we want to perform well at every event that we go to, but we do like having a marker. We agree those with UK Sport as to which event it will be, and that’s what we’ll do again this year.

I think mainly for us in this year, a lot of it is performance goals. That’s our biggest target, more so than competition results. It has to be – we want to progress as much as we can through this winter because straight after next year, we’re going to be then looking at the Milan-Cortina Olympic and Paralympic qualification period over those two years leading up to the Games, so it’s going to come round incredibly quickly.

What would your message be to the teams as they continue in pre-season? What’s the last thing you’re saying to them before they head out to their camps?

Go out, enjoy, have fun, make the most of it. We always find when our athletes are going out there and having fun that’s when they’re progressing the most, they really are.

I think to people outside the sport it looks like an incredibly fun, easy lifestyle where it’s like “wow, they get to go off and play in the snow all year round” and, you know what, it is. It’s amazing, it really, really is. And everyone involved feels like that, however it’s incredibly hard work, much harder than I think a lot of people would ever really know. It’s mentally challenging, financially challenging, it can be stressful, you feel the pressure. Everybody understands that they’ve got to perform at these events as well; people say you’re only as good as your last event, and it is a lot of pressure for a lot of them.

Right now, we’re in a decent place, and I just want everybody to enjoy it and take it all in while they’re on this journey.

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop