Still not sure as to who to vote for in the BSS Alpine Speed and Telemark Committee election, then read on

The two candidates for the chair of the Alpine, Speed and Telemark Committee have been asked the same set of questions to help you decide who should be elected. Both Tony Trayner and Adrian Pery have given their responses… …

  1. What do you hope to achieve in this term of office if elected?

Tony Trayner: Alpine, Speed and Telemark (AST) Committee has, over the last few years, not had its difficulties to seek where fractions have developed among administrators, athletes, coaches, race organizers and parents, one of my first priorities will be to take soundings from the people involved in the sport and through good governance and within the agreed remit develop consensus across all the disciplines.

The AST is one of 4 discipline committees within BSS that have been set up to provide checks and balances as to how each discipline is run, as Chairman of the AST committee and working and in coordination with the members of the committee will ensure that all aspects of the disciplines will have a forum to be represented.

Adrian Pery: The AST supports three disciplines.  Alpine has had a some wonderful successes this season, but so have Telemark and Speed.  Jasmin Taylor has just won a Bronze Medal at the Telemark World Championships and Jan Farrell, the current SDH World Cup Winner, is competing in the Speed World Championships this week.  I would like increase our own inter-discipline integration as well as with the other disciplines within BSS in order to build upon the success of all three disciplines.    I believe we could achieve so much more if we can build a rapport with the other disciplines and draw from their experiences and I want to create a governance and support structure that allows athletes to achieve their personal best at whatever level they can.  The purpose of a governing body is to set the conditions so that all who engage in the sport feel valued and part of the wider successes.

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2. What are the main issues that you believe need to be addressed at the moment?

TT: From my 40+ years in the sport the sport is not broke but there are areas that we need concentrate on to improve our sport for the benefit of our athletes and I have strong views as to where snowsports should be heading these include;

Volunteers – We have a very small pool of volunteers and supporters that are the nucleus of snowsports and without whom we would have no future. From my experience volunteers are the life blood of our sports and we should ensure that they are not put down but are rewarded for the work that they do. Where appropriate we should provide training and support our volunteers not only to develop themselves but also the sport as a whole

Athletes – Everything that I do in snowsports is for the competitors/athletes we are not an alpine nation, we must nourish and cherish the talented athletes that we do have, giving them the best support, advice and coaching that we can provide. Whilst goals and targets are very important in the development of athletes one size does not fit all, we need to have pathways but these need to be individual athlete centred not a theoretical utopia that can never be achieved. For all of the major events such as World Championships and Olympics we should like most if not all of the other competing nations fill all the hard earned quotas with the best athletes that we have and not as in the past have impossible selection criteria that stops these quotas being filled.

Coaches – We have some excellent home grown coaches and like our athletes should be cherished, provided development pathways and we should make every effort to increase and improve the pool of coaches to ensure the best are available to coach our athletes at all levels.

Co-ordination – There has to be a co-ordination between all snowsports disciplines, we need to seek out where the common denominators are and support each other for the benefit of our athletes. Alpine, speed and Telemark are the primary concern but good co-operation between all disciplines can only help each individual discipline (as an example alpine and ski cross have pretty much all the same elements). Other than BSS we need to work better and more closely with all parties including the Home nations and TD forum, past differences have to be reconciled and better future together determined. There are many other influential parties both at home and internationally that we must work with such as clubs, snowsport organizations and specialist snowsport schools to support our planned pathways for our athletes.

AP: I think that we need to address the dissatisfaction in the Alpine discipline and we need to recognise that what has happened is not what need be; the result of the recent crises has been to alienate the Alpine discipline from the other disciplines within BSS and potential sponsors, and that is something that is to the detriment of us all.  The Governance structure needs to recognise the needs of those they support, but also offer guidance when required, so we remain relevant at all levels and to all parts of BSS and the Home Nations.  Winter sports are changing so fast, as new disciplines develop, and money follows success both for individual athletes and disciplines, so we must take control of our own destiny and demonstrate success (as we are now doing).  Alpine cannot stand forever on its own and we should recognise and embrace change so that we can remain a relevant force within the wider winter sports.  If we embrace what is good (both within and out of BSS and all three Home Nations) and play our part then I believe we can benefit.  Telemark is building upon its successes with some exciting new athletes coming into the sport which itself is going through the process to achieve Olympic status; if this bid is successful then I believe it will provide fantastic opportunities for us all.

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3. The standard of world skiing is forever improving. In the light of the great Team performance at the recent World Championships in the team race, do you feel that the standard of British Team racers is mirroring this? If not, how do you think that the Alpine Committee can help them achieve their aspirations?

TT: In snowsports over the last couple of years we have had many successes and the superb team performance is a great example of the in depth potential that we have across all disciplines.

The world of competition is forever improving in all aspects, whether it be fitness for purpose, equipment, coaching, mental strength or indeed funding, the AST must facilitate all aspects of development and competition to ensure that the quality and depth across snpwsports is world class. However we need strong grass roots that are fed and nourished to ensure that the fruit from such nourishment is the best we can grow.

AP: The recent successes, at Alpine World and Europa Cups and the Alpine World Championships are brilliant, and it is clear they are the results of many years hard work; as such credit must go to the athletes and their supporters.  It is important that we set the conditions now that inspire athletes to achieve of their best for the future and the AST can do this by providing the framework for athletes to connect into.  Initially we can do this by improving the pathway , selection mechanisms and racing opportunities that allows athletes to give of their best; work that is ongoing within the Alpine Business Group.   Beyond that, given the limited funding available, we must improve the centralised support mechanisms, such as rehabilitation, strength and conditioning that are common to all disciplines where we can leverage central BSS funding.  To do this we need the help of BSS as a whole, so we must work hard to gain the trust of the other disciplines and work with them.  If we can improve the profile of British Winter Sports, and the skiing disciplines in particular, then we can start to think about other on snow programmes.

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4. Do you feel it is right that the GB Speed programme has been ‘put on hold’ for the time being with athletes being directed towards a technical programme only? Do you feel that the separate programmes operated by all of the leading GB athletes is correct or wrong and how can this be improved?

The current situation with regards to programmes appears to have developed over the last few years as a result of the lack of funding in certain areas of snowsports and there have been winners and losers in the funding race. There is no easy one fits all solution to the funding conundrum, it will take coordination with all groups volunteers, parents, coaches and athletes to maximise all of our potential to realise the funding required to develop into a world class organization to improve the funding position.

AP: In an ideal world where there is plenty of funding we would have a centralised programme that supported all the Alpine disciplines.   However the reality is otherwise and we cannot afford it all.  If we cannot fund a centralised programme for all disciplines we must be realistic and focus on what provides the most benefit, as we cannot force athletes to spend their own money on a centralised programme.   If we can improve the funding of Alpine, and that will be based on our successes and our ability to promote ourselves within the wider panoply of winter sports, then we might in future be able to redress the current situation.   This problem is not unique to Alpine; it would be great to help Telemark and Speed, both currently unfunded disciplines, with centrally funded programmes too.

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5. It is widely acknowledged that the financial support for alpine, speed and telemark is poor. How, under your leadership, can this be addressed?

The marketing of snowsports has improved over the years but the more income we have the better the support we can provide to our athletes one of the visions I have is to have a “Snowsports Festival” at a suitable time and location where we can bring all disciplines to one resort, where all the athletes will come together under one competitive banner. There are a lot of practicalities to overcome and I am sure a lot of naysayers but as a very minimum we could have all alpine disciplines (as per the British Championships), snowboard SL and GS, telemark (forms and distances depending on resort) and ski and Board cross.

Last weekend I had the great privilege of helping to run the Scottish Ski and Boarder Cross event run by Aberdeen Snowsports Club, the event was fully subscribed (140 competitors) within 48 hours with 71 on the waiting list, a superb event run by volunteers for competitors. There were 4 major sponsors and the event was used for training a new generation of volunteers where the enthusiasm and enjoyment from the competitors was evident even though the weather was very wet and windy, a great example of how we need to take our sport forward.

Having all the people involved across our sport we can all work together, share ideas and consider the best way forward for each discipline.

AP: We have had great successes this year and we need to capitalise upon these to promote our sports and generate our own funding streams.  We cannot rely on UK sport funding as it is targeted to those with podium potential in Olympic disciplines, however AST do benefit from this with access to the centrally funded BSS support elements.    I would aim to try and promote the successes of all our three disciplines in order to reconnect the racing community with the wider British skiing community, who are seemingly engaged with many of the other programmes.  This is no easy task, and the crises of the past and the perception of alpine discord have not helped us, especially with sponsors and potential sponsors.  If we can show coherence and stability then I believe we have a better chance; we must work with all of BSS to achieve this.

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6. Does alpine, speed and telemark do enough to help itself in terms of promotion / social media / PR / fundraising? How would you like to see this improve?

One can never do “enough”, BSS can and does a great job in supporting our competitors, coaches and the like but they can only work with what they are provided, the individuals have to play their part in the promotion of their sport through the good times and the bad times. The AST can and will improve, the BSS organization though small has the expertise we should better advise the those involved in competing on the huge benefits that can be obtained through good promotion. Let us be honest there are some people that are very good at promoting both themselves and the sport but there are others not so good.

In conclusion the worse thing that we can have in our sport is apathy from all our members and I would ask once again that all members of BSS that have a vote to select the chairman of the AST committee please vote.

AP: In short no, but we are getting better.  The last year has seen improvements in the way we promote our disciplines through BSS, but we can improve further.  We need to raise our profile, not only centrally through BSS media push, but also utilising the individual athletes and event social media.  The fact is that the BSS office cannot follow all that every athlete in every discipline does, but we can use the BSS office to leverage what we already do and engage with the wider community.  To do this we need to help ourselves: athletes, coaches and organisers need to promote themselves and their activities, with BSS as just one of the outlet pathways.  That way BSS can then use the best of what we have, alongside the other disciplines, to promote us as part of what is a very successful British Winter Sports scene and simultaneously we can leverage off the successes of all disciplines.

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Now please make a decision and vote!