Regeneration at British Ski and Snowboard

It is one year on since Rory Tapner took on the Chairmanship of British Ski and Snowboard (BSS). When he sat down with Racer Ready at the London Ski Show last year he explained where he wanted to take the sport. He recognised that talent was out there and asked the disciplines to bring forward programmes that would provide a route to world class performance. This is still a work in progress but with additional funding programmes due to be announced imminently it could now become a reality. The next stage is sorting out the structure of the sport, complicated because of  its nine disciplines, but with the clear intention to give more autonomy to each discipline. This is where things are at the moment and is a bone of contention for the forthcoming Annual General Meeting.

Part of the issue, Tapner agreed is the way the changes have been communicated. But progress has been made over the last week to ensure that members understand what they are being asked to vote on, and why the outcome they wish for is actually embodied in the proposals.

Tapner explained that historically no one quite knew who was running each discipline: Was it the Alpine, Speed and Telemark Committee (AST), was it the BSS Board (or a nominated Board Member) or was it the Alpine Business Group? Or was it a combination of all of them.

By splitting the AST into three and making all nine disciplines that BSS look after, have their own committee to run each discipline, Tapner believes it will allow them to forge their own path: “They will be accountable for their direction, success or if things do not go according to plan things will now be very visible,” Tapner explained. Members of each discipline will vote for their own Chair and Vice-Chair of their committee, and the Chair will be able to add voting members to the committee from athletes, clubs, Home Nations or whoever they feel can assist their development.  In the Terms of Reference for each Committee (which have also been published) it is expected that athletes, for instance, will form an important component of how the Committee is run and will be able to vote at these meetings as part of the Committee.

Beyond the need to include athletes on the Committee, and set up Athlete forums, BSS will also expect the new Performance Director (awaiting that announcement but I am told BSS are engaged with a very significant appointment indeed) to be on each of the Committees.  Some of the communication in this area has not helped, in that by formally removing the vote of athletes, and by the way also the Home Nations, from discipline committees it has looked like the voice of the athlete has been removed.  Quite the opposite says Tapner – the Chairman of the committee will decide but it would be extraordinary if athletes did not have voting rights at the meetings, and of course the new Performance Director is also a very powerful voice of the athletes.

The new Performance Director will also join the main Board of BSS.  This is a welcome addition to the way the Sport is run.  It puts performance at the heart of everything BSS does.  In the past the PD has not been on the Board.  An athlete has however had a seat on the Board but this has very rarely been taken up – and is difficult for an athlete both in terms of time commitment but also trying to represent 9 disciplines rather than just their own.  However Tapner says that if an athlete or former athlete were to be nominated or indeed self nominate to join the Board who felt able to devote the time, then there is spare capacity on the Board and it would be an entirely appropriate way of filling that capacity.

The new Committee to run each of the disciplines would be responsible for the direction of the sport including engaging with the Home Nations, clubs, Academies, and so on.

Once the Committee has formulated and consulted on the plans of how they want to take the sport forward, they would take these plans to the Board of BSS to review funding plans and see how these might be enhanced.

Tapner believes that this new structure simplifies the organisation, and provides greater responsibility and accountability to those running each discipline.  This is the type of thing Sponsors and supporters wish to see.  The focus must be on passing authority from the Board to the disciplines and this is what the proposals achieve.  Change is never easy!

Words Racer Ready – Please repost if you want through linking to this article!