CAN GB BE TOP 5 IN SNOWSPORTS?
2nd March 2018 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
In 12 years’ time Britain is wants to be up there with the world’s best ski & snowboard nations. With two medals from Pyeongchang, is that even possible?
The Performance Director of the governing body, British Ski and Snowboard, set a challenging target soon after he joined the organisation.
In February 2017 Dan Hunt said he wanted to be top five in the world across all ski and snowboard disciplines by 2030.
The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics that have just finished would be his first test.
So did he pass?
The teacher’s report would probably say something like “good start but much work to do”.
Hunt, who was in Pyeongchang, is clearly in positive mood as he reflects on the success of the Games, saying the trend is in the right direction.
“If you’d have told me before the Games that we could walk away with a couple of medals and more than three-quarters of the team earning top 20 results, then I’d probably take that,” he said.
“The expectations we carry into Olympic Games now is far different than in the past and so we judge ourselves a lot more honestly as well, but I think on the whole the team performed strongly.”
A key element of Hunt’s 2030 vision is ensuring British Ski and Snowboard programmes are focussed towards creating medal opportunities in more disciplines and more events.
“In Sochi we had one top 20 in alpine skiing, one top 30 in cross country and a handful of top 10s in park and pipe including Jenny Jones’ bronze medal,” he said.
“In PyeongChang we had a top five and two top 10s in alpine skiing, a top 10 and a 12th in cross country, Izzy Atkin picked up a medal in freestyle skiing, Billy Morgan picked up another in snowboard and we also had a number of other top 10s in park and pipe.
“From 2014 to 2018, those numbers say we’re trending towards where we need to be, and while we’ll go into far greater depth analysing PyeongChang over the coming weeks and months, there are plenty of reasons to start thinking positively about Beijing.”
So let’s have a look at where GB is now.
Great Britain finished 19th in the Pyeongchang medal table with five medals – one gold and four bronzes.
It was the team’s best ever performance at a Winter Olympics and the two snowsport medals for Izzy Atkin (ski slopestyle) and Billy Morgan (snowboard big air) were a 100 per cent improvement on the one from Jenny Jones (snowboard slopestyle) at Sochi.
But the nation topping the medal table at Pyeongchang, Norway, collected 39 medals, 14 of them gold.
To have been fifth on the table in 2018, GB would have had to win at least eight gold and at least seven silver medals to go ahead of the Netherlands. (The Olympic table puts those countries with more golds ahead of those who may have more medals but fewer golds).
Simply looking at the medal table is not really a fair comparison since a large number of the Olympic medals awarded are in ice sports, rather than snow sports – including all 20 won by the Netherlands.
So we’ve put together a comparison which includes the top five nations on the Pyeongchang medal table and also the leading skiing and snowboarding nations who came lower down the Olympic medal table.
We’ve listed only the medals these nations won on snow at Pyeongchang and we’ve also excluded biathlon medals.
SNOWSPORTS MEDALS WON BY THE TOP 5 IN THE TABLE
1. Norway – 28
2. Germany – 11
3. Canada – 11
4. USA – 15
5. Netherlands – 0
SNOWSPORTS MEDALS WON BY 5 LEADING SNOWSPORT NATIONS
1. Switzerland – 13
2. Austria – 10
3. France – 9
4. Sweden – 8
5. Italy – 4
In addition to the above, six nations won more ski or snowboard medals at Pyeongchang than GB: Japan, Olympic Athletes from Russia, Czech Republic, China, Finland and Australia.
And Poland won two – the same as GB.
So, if we’ve got our figures right, and without prioritising medals of a particular colour, Team GB came equal 16th for ski and snowboard disciplines in Pyeongchang.
It means there’s a way to go to meet the British Ski & Snowboard target.
But 12 years is a long time, especially for the young up-and-coming skiers and snowboarders who are currently being nurtured by the British development programmes.
And there are another two Winter Olympics to come before the Games in 2030.
Dan Hunt believes that while there will be members of the PyeongChang squad who will call time on their Olympic careers, there are plenty more ready to step up or look to make their mark in four years time.
“When you cast an eye towards Beijing, you start realising how many positives there are that we can take out of these Games,” said Hunt.
“Izzy Atkin is only 19 and she’s already medalled, Katie Ormerod was unlucky to bow out before the Games started but she’s so young too.”
“Laurie Taylor was a revelation at the World Championships last year and proved his ability again in the men’s slalom in Korea,” Hunt added.
“Then you have guys like Dave Ryding and Andrew Musgrave who will still be in a peak age range for career-best performances in Beijing.
“Plus we’re unearthing great talent in our new ski/snowboard cross and moguls programmes which have only just got off the ground, and the prospects we have coming through the park and pipe pathway continues to be really exciting.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done to round out the season and we’ll be doing more this summer behind the scenes than we ever have before, but I’m really encouraged by what we delivered in PyeongChang and fans of British snowsport should be extremely proud of the team we sent to Korea.”
Read PlanetSKI’s review of the highlights and lowlights of the Pyeongchang Games:
And our story from Heathrow as Team GB returned home:
See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.
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