Time to be heard!

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There’s a lot of discussion on who is going to direct the future of Alpine Skiing. This may seem like a power struggle but actually it’s a chance for everyone to have an input of the way we produce future stars and improve the structure. A clean slate and clear ambition is what British skiing needs after some hard years of underachieving. …

There are athletes flying the flag well at the present moment however beneath that we need to increase the quality and volume of the talent pool below to push everyone on competitively.

Views across the board have been wide spread from former high-level athletes to grassroots coaches. The success of Alpine is heavily backed but voices need to be heard by BSS so that they can get an insight to what people have been pushing for a good few years.

Racer Ready asked a selection of people in the sport from the lower levels to past racers who have been at the top of the system. The responses are very forward thinking and all have ideas that can be used for consideration.

A Grassroots coach said: “If I look back to the structure from 20 years ago, there was a clear linkage between individual race clubs. The development opportunity for a racer was clear, we saw members of the next step come and help with the development of the level below, and this drove a clear direction that any club based ski racer could aspire to and follow.”

“If I compare this structure to the current situation, racer’s appear to have to engage with one of the very well run commercial race teams (e.g BSA, Ambition, Impulse, Evolution) and have the necessary financial backing from ‘bank of Mum & Dad’, before they then can take the step up. Building back a development linkage from the indoor and outdoor race clubs, and engaging the depth of coaching at club level with building this linkage back with the national Alpine teams, may well help stop the current number of top racers who simply give up at the 16-18 age group as they simply cannot see any path forward for them as a ski racing athlete.”

One Regional chairman explained: “For me it is not a question of how BSS can improve the pathway, I think we need a complete overhaul of the system. We have a structure typical of the confused nationalism within Britain and its member nations by having a British organisation and organisations for England, Wales and Scotland who have different focuses in terms of participation and talent development. This needs to be simplified into a single British governing body with responsibility for everything from encouraging participation in competition all the way through to talent selection and elite athlete development.”

“An effective system cannot rely on talent to be delivered to it on a plate. It needs to take control of entry level competition and work with the regional organisations and clubs to proactively identify talent and then establish the programmes to develop them appropriately”

A former female British team racer answered: “There is always a big jump from children to juniors and this is important as people need to think about career choices – uni /job or go full time skiing. Majority of the time they don’t choose full time skiing. I think this is down to money and being self-funded and the lack of guidance. When I was racing I felt I had such a long time and was very far off getting to World Cup/Olympics. It was only a couple years ago someone showed me some graphs of my achievements and my improvement levels that I realise maybe another couple of seasons I could have reached that.”

Another former male British team racer replied: “I can honestly say that the training I had on my first season on the team was significantly higher than anything I had experienced before. Without the funding at this stage I wouldn’t have been able to score the results I had. Looking back I wish I had raced a lot less as a child and in my first year FIS; I needed to maximise the days I had on snow and skiing just two runs a day I was wasting a lot of time, the children’s team took us to races through the winter when in reality we should have been going on training camps together. When I quit there was nothing like a governing body left so maybe that is the reason for no contact. I think a lot can be learnt from things that have gone wrong in making sure it doesn’t happen again.”

It’s exciting times for the sport, everybody has to back all levels of the sport to move forward so that one day we can be proud of what we’ve achieved together.

 

This report was submitted by Peter Davies, a Journalism student at Southampton University