UK Sport cash injection for Great Britain’s freeskiers and snowboarders targets Sochi success

Great Britain’s top prospect winter sport athletes from GBFreeski and Great Britain Freestyle Snowboard are to receive a funding top up of £211,000 from UK Sport to directly support medal targets at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

Successful 12/13 seasons from Billy Morgan, snowboard, and Katie Summerhayes, freeski during 2013’s World Championships were identified as the drivers for the increase in funding. Morgan took Bronze at this year’s World Cup in Sierra Nevada, adding to 4th in snowboard Slopestyle at January’s Snowboard World Championships, with Katie Summerhayes picking up Silver at the Silverplana World Cup on top of a strong display achieving 4th in Slopestyle at the Freestyle World Ski Champs, Norway, in March 2013.

Freestyle snowboard top man Billy Morgan said: “It’s been amazing to have such a good season and I am stoked that it is having a positive effect for everyone on the Freestyle Snowboard team and GBFreeski.  I’m really glad to be a part of making things better for the future.”

The funding which comes via British Ski & Snowboard kicks in from 1 July 2013 for injection into the elite athlete programmes managed by Head Coaches Pat Sharples and Hamish McKnight. The funding will support conditioning, technique and performance programmes in the UK, New Zealand and Canada. The total award for British Ski & Snowboard to such programmes is now £1,509,950 for the 2011-14 period.

Recent positive impact of UK Sport investment includes the brand new introduction of a freestyle airbag to the team’s Manchester-based top flight and grassroots training. Engineered to create the safest and most realistic coaching environment possible for freeskiers and snowboards, the airbag simulates realistic jumps, with shaped landing surface, aiming points and a soft landing, enabling athletes to gauge optimum and overshoot landing trajectories and plan the perfect approach.

Simon Timson, who started in his post as Director of Performance at UK Sport in January this year, said: “The benefit of aligning our investment approach for winter sports with that of summer at the start of the Sochi cycle is starting to be realised; our winter sports are in better shape than ever before, and our latest Mission 2014 analysis confirms this.

“Sochi could even present one of our best ever winter Games performances, which would be a fantastic early legacy from London 2012, where the additional investment and attention given to developing our high performance system has benefited summer and winter sports alike.”

UK Sport’s cash boost caps a positive recent funding cycle for GBFreeski’s elite athlete programme, which recently announced a new partnership with direct funding support from city financial services firm, Reeves, as Tax and Accountancy services partner.

Dave Edwards, Chief Executive of British Ski and Snowboard said: “This is a further boost ahead of Sochi 2014 and will help us in our goal for medal success at a Winter Olympics. The funds will be used to provide further much needed support to these Freestyle athletes.  The vital development programmes are now secure for these athletes and their coaching and management team can now concentrate on creating the best environment for their success rather than worrying about the finances. We are grateful to UK Sport for their continued support of our athletes.”

Across all winter sports UK Sport today announced an extra £443,200 to be invested in the final preparations for the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games. There is additional investment in the sports of Bobsleigh, Ski and Snowboard and Para Alpine Skiing in order to help these sports be best prepared to realise all their medal winning opportunities in Sochi next year.

Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport, said: “British athletes achieved great success at London 2012 and we want to keep that momentum going in the four years to Rio. We are setting ambitious targets with our sports as we want to ensure that our athletes are the best prepared in the world. Today’s boost for winter sports will also help us look to better Team GB and ParalympicsGB’s performance in Vancouver in Sochi next year.”