Erskine gets things moving

Malcolm Erskine has quickly got on with the job in hand after his successful election to Chair of the Alpine, Speed and Telemark Committee at the British Ski & Snowboard. … After the election Erskine, who was elected on a Campaign for Change ticket, has plenty of new, fresh ideas to raise funds for the Alpine section of the sport and bring the sport forward. Here he sets out his vision for the future and the initiatives he wants to put in place:

Many thanks to all those who voted for me. Thanks also to Racer Ready for providing the opportunity to address the sport at large. I took on the chairmanship of the AST (Alpine, Speed & Telemark committee) on 12 June. Thanks to the committee for duly ratifying my position, and a special mention for Alpine business manager, Tony Willis, for keeping me up to speed with Alpine affairs and helping redraft selection documents in order henceforth to send proper GB ski teams to major events.

As it stands I should obtain my seat on the BSS board as discipline chair at the next AGM. Until then my status is only that of observer. With regard to the AST vote itself, I call on BSS chairman John Brewer and chief executive Dave Edwards to release the actual figures detailing the result. Our unelected officials have gone to ludicrous extremes to keep the details secret. This is not the way to move the sport forward. I was elected on a mandate to change the culture of BSS, a culture established by Konrad Bartelski and Paddy Mortimer that was weighted against Alpine. Given that mandate, I now ask Konrad to resign his directorship of BSS. He no longer speaks for Alpine. And there are crucial decisions to be made in the next two months.

Where now for Alpine, Speed and Telemark?

There are exciting initiatives happening at school, club and home nation level but we have to boost active participation in competitive ski sport and encourage registration with the governing bodies of Snowsports England, Scotland and Wales. Speaking with my Alpine hat on, I’d like everyone to form a part of a nationwide register so that all competitors, including telemarkers and speed skiers, from club members and school racers all the way up to our top racer Dave Ryding, are encouraged to join the snowsport Alpine community. We should all feel part of one sport, all sharing one giant umbrella when it rains and bouncing around in the powder when it snows. Train hard, racers. It’s a fantastic sport. Shake hands at the bottom whether you win, lose or draw.

As I see it, I have been elected to protect the sport from those who place obstacles in our racers’ way instead of stepping stones. From my election address last month:

The governing body (BSS) sent only two racers to Schladming for the 2013 Alpine World champs, an event where the potential share of TV rights by participation would have made a huge difference to our Alpine programs, the downhill teams having already self-funded since the end of the previous season. For the younger racers who missed out, notably Jack Gower ranked 2nd in the world for his age in GS behind Henrik Kristoffersen, it should be remembered that the GB qualifying standard for U21 was higher than that of any other nation. Now, in 2014, the British snowsport nominations for the Sochi Olympic Games have proven once and for all that those in charge of the GB teams are either anti-Alpine or incompetent.

Age 26 at the time of the Olympic downhill, Dougie Crawford had achieved a top thirty start profile with a chance of drawing a bib from one to seven. TJ Baldwin, age just 23, looked forward to wearing bib thirty-three in the downhill and top forty bibs in two other disciplines. If nominated by the BSS. Instead they both had to watch television coverage of their peers achieving sponsorship-securing, in many cases career-defining results. The governing body’s failure to fund our men’s downhillers in recent years was a shame. The decision to obstruct their participation at Sochi was despicable. Likewise the outstanding young adults who should have been blooded for future events. Likewise the GB team for Skier X.

The tragedy of an international Alpine racer with TJ Baldwin’s profile being unable to continue will not be repeated during my stewardship. British snowsport needs a functioning Alpine discipline. Youngsters need targets and teams they can aim for. GB racers who achieve elite FIS results must not be left without funding and with little prospect of selection to major events. The selection policies will change. Selection will be a matter of commonsense at all times. No arbitrary decisions. No favouritism. As regards the funding we desperately need to kick-start a fundraising drive for our elite athletes. Clearly we, the administration, need to engage with our membership. So, Racer Ready reader, can you help? Trust me on this, we need you. We need all the help we can get. The support of Delancey and the Ritblat family has been fantastic but we still face a serious and immediate shortfall to keep our best racers on the road. Our downhillers have no programme and zero funding. Our number two male slalom skier has no funding and cannot afford to join the number one at indoor camps in Germany. (Jai Geyer has been told by GB coach Tris Glasse-Davies, “If you raise the money give me a call.”) The ladies technical team also have to pay substantial costs.

So what can be done?

We have to get things moving right now. We need new volunteers. New blood, new input. Sponsorship, ideas, brainstorming. To this end I have set up a presentation in London on 30 June. This Alpine gathering (at the VUE West End in Leicester Square) is intended not just for racing families and key players, but anyone from the sport and the industry who can contribute or wishes to join discussions on the major task of putting GB Alpine back on track. I know this is very short notice but it is a first step in advance of fundraising events to be held later in the autumn. Chemmy Alcott and Kevin McCloud will be there on 30 June to help with the presentation, after which there will be an open Q& A session and I hope that at least some emergency funds will be pledged. Funds which I guarantee will be ring-fenced to support our elite and most promising racers. Directly in support of the racers.

If you want to be a part of the evening please email me on and I’ll send you an invitation. (Ten pounds charge at the door to cover snacks and drinks.) Spread the word!

From Malcolm Erskine, chair of AST, British Ski & Snowboard

Picture David Ryding competing in Kranjska Gora, March 2014, Credit: Zoom Agence