Is Alpine a dead duck or alive and kicking? Malcolm Erskine puts proposals and ideas forward

The recent impromptu Alpine Gathering at the VUE West End was held in the wake of UK Sport’s announcement of zero funding for GB Alpine in the forthcoming 4-year Olympic cycle. People came from far and wide to show support for our sport. Alpine is the majority GB snowsport and all the crossover feeds outwards. However short-sighted we may consider UK Sport’s policy, it’s up to the GB skiing community at large to meet the challenge and maintain a healthy Alpine division. … 

In this country we have several thousands of highly talented and enthusiastic young racers but not so many senior racers. Youngsters need to be able to see that there is a future for them. We must support our top racers so that there is a British team now and in the future. We cannot afford to lose any more of our top racers in the same way as we have lost TJ Baldwin.

Our Alpine gathering achieved its primary objectives of raising awareness of the need to fund the athletes and to encourage a collective response for the sport to pull together. Not just for high level ski racing but for development at all levels. I won’t list here all the supportive offers and ideas that have flooded into the Alpine think-tank these last few weeks, but it’s enough to fill a prospectus. There’s no question that GB Alpine has an untapped goldmine of creativity, willing experts and volunteers, strategic thinkers, and opportunities to network and ultimately succeed. This bulletin is intended to encourage initiatives and to spread the word. Let’s get out and raise some funds.

How can you help?

You control substantial budgetary decision-making or you have access to such a potential corporate sponsor

Commercial rights and their sale lie entirely within the domain and remit of the BSS office. You have the budget? We have the opportunities in a glamorous, exciting sport. BSS chief executive officer Dave Edwards and his support staff at the BSS are ready to take your call : 020 7842 5764 Delancey’s position as BSS title sponsor is that of honest broker and loyal friend to the sport. Sir John Ritblat and family are GB Alpine’s longest standing and most generous benefactors. Their stated position is that if a potential corporate sponsor were to approach BSS and bid for commercial title rights at a higher level of funding than BSS currently enjoy, Delancey would simply ask for first refusal to match such an offer. Those of us in and of the sport should reciprocate this magnificent gesture and Delancify our communications wherever possible. Let’s make a point of referring to our Delancey British Alpine Ski Teams and our Delancey British Alpine Championships.

There are commercial rights and opportunities beyond those of BSS title sponsor. For example, funding for a sportwide performance development plan currently taking shape and likely to receive backing from coaches across the sport. Or how about a sponsor for the Mission to Vail. With the prospect of a full GB team being taken to the 2015 World Alpine ski championships, a team made up of continental cup winners, top-10-by-age world performers, some even top 5, the first GB teenager ever to ski sub-10 FIS points, our new ski champions and new blood, there’s the potential for a new sponsor to back the brightest and best Alpine team to take to the field in years.

Currently we have talented performers – but most of our racers are training on the breadline, struggling to make ends meet against competitors who train together in a well-funded team atmosphere. Our best skiing results are achieved “against the odds”. Help us to rebalance those odds a little more in GB Alpine’s favour.

Interested? Contact BSS for more information:

You are a philanthropist and you want to help

One announcement to be made right away regards the services of our friends at the Skiers Trust of Great Britain. The STGB stands ready to take advantage of the tax benefit available for charitable giving, effectively enabling extra funds to be reclaimed from the Inland Revenue. See Gift Aid form, attached, and visit:

Offers of philanthropic donation (anything over £10) can be steered tax-advantageously towards the emergency trust funds that have been activated by the STGB.

Say you wake up and decide you’d quite like to put £60 towards a Dougie Crawford or Jai Geyer of GB Alpine, or how about young ski champion Cara Brown, or maybe an Eddie Drake or Emma Sarsfield of Skier X … simply write the athlete’s name on the back of the cheque (or the name of the team you wish to support) and send the cheque along with the form to the STGB. Then sit back and enjoy your morning cuppa with the satisfied smile of someone who has made a difference, a positive impact to keep our future Olympic skiing athletes on the road.

Richard Berry, STGB: “Donations to the national teams can be sent to the address below with a gift aid form attached to this email. Cheques should be made payable to the Skiers Trust with a note saying which team or athlete they wish to support. Direct payments can be sent, please contact us at the number below for details.” Anyone wishing to use Just Text Giving text code SKIT14 £10 to 70070. (I just tried this myself. A doddle, and you can gift aid the extra £2.50.) Amounts larger than £10 should be sent direct to: Skiers Trust of Great Britain, Craigmore, Barrow Lane, Langton Green, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN3 0BP +44 (0) 7767 833591 +44 (0) 1892 861080

You are a performer and you wonder what the future holds

Can the UK funding policy be revisited? Maybe after Rio 2016. If GB Alpine comes together with credible development and credible results there might be some leeway. Maybe UK Sport could help with goods in kind, seminar support for ski athletes and coaches. For now, the reality faced by our top performers is that the future Olympic teams for GB Alpine are entirely dependent on private sector funding, corporate sponsorship, public fundraising and donation. Athletes themselves are thrown a challenge. Get sponsor savvy and quick. Chemmy’s example is one to be followed: draw up your sponsorship profile, send letters, get out there, graft, show willing, show commitment, grab that sponsor and work the sponsorship. The best deal benefits both parties. Look into crowd sourcing. Set up a tax-advantageous channel for your self-funding activities and donations through the STGB… You can even apply for a grant from the STGB.

Fortune favours the brave. If you want it enough and believe in yourself enough, then the adventure is worth all the hard work and sacrifice. Skiing has many friends who will support you if you show the commitment to make the most of your talent and opportunities, and train like a nutter.

You are an Alpine fan and willing to help

Come on, folks. Let’s set up a Fundraising Voluntary Taskforce*. There are so many great ideas coming in and some excellent people have already expressed their interest to get involved. The Alpine, Speed & Telemark committee (AST) and its Alpine Business group want to hear from you. Those with the skill set or necessary thrust to raise funds and manage events should email AST acting chair Adrian Pery or Alpine manager Tony Willis (or me and I’ll act as intermediary). Let’s get the ball moving. In fact a Ski Team Ball or Fundraiser may well be one outcome of the Alpine gathering which resulted in the offer of a Mayfair venue with drinks and canapés all gratis from an anonymous benefactor.

The VUE meeting was bursting with ideas on how to support our racers. Keep them coming or pass them on to the volunteer officers already mentioned above. Or act on your own initiative with club functions and collections. It’s great to hear of the Delancey Snowsport School Assemblies, a grass-roots initiative from our title sponsor which is reflected in wonderful pockets of activity up and down the country. And I see that an Alpine Funding Forum has sprung up on Facebook. Fantastic. We just need to get active, raise funds, seek out new sponsors and service new sponsorship packages, build on the momentum. A longer term model for fundraising could be to raise money or sponsorship for a professional Alpine fundraising team on a rolling brief. The sprat to catch a mackerel. For me, it was a pleasure to share a platform with Grand Designs’ ski-dad Kevin McCloud, Cat Hawkins of Think Sponsorship and our very own Chemmy. Personally I’d jump at any excuse to get together with old friends to discuss current affairs in GB Alpine. But last week’s gathering, held at short notice and courtesy of VUE Cinemas and the Richards family ski team, was all that and much more. The turnout included ex-racers like Graham Bell from Ski Sunday, John Clark from Eurosport, many of our current Delancey Alpine ski team and Skier X team, parents of over half the Alpine team, up-and-coming racers, stalwarts of the STGB and the SCGB, representatives of the ski industry such as Inspiring Learning, Solutions 4 Feet, Ski Bartlett père et fille, stalwarts of skiing development, race clubs from Bearsden to Milton Keynes by way of Vermont, ski academies, Olivia Gregory from Delancey, the chairs of Snowsport England, ESSkiA and BARSC, a director of Snowsport Scotland, Torquay ski club’s venerable Coach Ron Batley, and plenty more besides.

* Thanks to all who contributed and to those who are still sending in ideas. As for those of you who are teetering on the verge of getting involved and just need a gentle nudge… nudge!

On behalf of the 30 June Alpine Gathering panellists, best wishes to all, Malcolm Erskine.


Picture: Dougie Crawford competing at the Delancey British Alpine Ski Championships in March 2014