As we hit the 100 day countdown to the Beijing Paralympic Winter Games, GB Snowsport Chief Executive, Vicky Gosling, explains how innovation is powering our team’s efforts
In just 100 days’ time, British Para Athletes will be out in Beijing waiting for their moment to shine. The Paralympic Winter Games have been a source of pride for fans of British skiing and snowboarding for some years now and heading into this winter’s Games I know that every one of our athletes will be doing everything in their power to continue that proud tradition.
Success on the slopes, though, doesn’t come from dedication alone. As a sport, we need to make sure we’re providing all of our athletes with the very best tools available to help them eke out the performance benefits that can make the difference between a very good performance and a truly great one. For me, that means investing time and effort into new innovations that will give us an edge over the competition.
The launch, today, of our new Para Nordic sit-skis, is an example of the type of innovation I think we can bring to the table. Developed in partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering, they’re an example of combining British engineering excellence with a specific area that we, and our athlete team, feel we can extract real benefits from. The proof will come as the season progresses, of course, but the early reports from testing and the athletes’ feedback thus far has created a real buzz around the team.
British sport, of course, has a track record of embracing innovation. Cycling, sailing, swimming, rowing, and so many other of our other Olympic and Paralympic sporting jewels have thrived through a belief in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. It needn’t all be about technical innovation, either. When I spoke, earlier this month, about building partnerships with other sports to help identify the next generation of snowsport talent, that was another area of potential innovation that I think could bear fruit for the future of our sport. We just have to allow ourselves the opportunity to think outside of the box.
We’re fortunate, in snowsport, that our athletes and coaches are so open to the benefits of embracing innovation. Instead of the resistance that some sports have faced to doing things differently, we’re pushing at an open door. With that mentality in place, and some of the world’s most forward-thinking teams working to bring more success to our sport, there’s really no reason that we shouldn’t be at the global forefront of our sport in these areas.
And the truth is, we need to be. Unlike our neighbours and rivals, we aren’t blessed with training and competition-ready snow conditions year-round. We don’t have a culture whereby children strap on skis and snowboards the moment they can walk. What we do have is bravery, dedication, creativity, and a willingness to look for the winning edge wherever we can find it.
That’s what I believe today’s launch represents, and it’s why I’ve got such optimism for the new season, and for the years to come. If we have to make our own success, we can be absolutely certain that we’ll have explored every angle, and considered every possible solution. We owe our athletes and the nation that supports them nothing less.