What A Year For GB Skiing & Snowboarding: Season Review
25th March 2021 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Last modified on April 7th, 2021
Most of us may not have set foot on the slopes this winter but skiers and snowboarders representing Great Britain have been doing their country proud. PlanetSKI reviews the season.
What’s really good news is that some of the best results have come from ‘new’ names on the block – the youngsters on whom GB Snowsport will be relying if the governing body is to reach its goal of becoming a top 5 nation by 2030.
Others who are relative veterans have done their bit with podium finishes and career best results.
The timing could hardly be better with the next Winter Olympics at Beijing less than a year away.
The Chief Executive of GB Snowsport, Vicky Gosling, told PlanetSKI that, while the Covid-19 pandemic had impacted the number of competitions held in 2020-21, they had remained determined and this was clear from the results.
“To give a sense of the scale of medal achievement in international events, over the last two seasons, GB Snowsport athletes won over 45 podium positions, and parathletes 30 podium positions,” she told us.
“GB Snowsport also has 3 World Champions and 2 Crystal Globe Winners. These results surpass what many within and outside of our sport believed was possible for the country.
“We look forward to next season in the run up to Beijing.”
One of the cheerleaders-in-chief of the GB team is the British former alpine racer and World Cup medallist, Konrad Bartelski.
He won World Cup downhill silver at Val Gardena in 1981.
He’s been keeping a close eye on results.
“We have World Champions, World Cup podiums, the overall Europa Cup slalom title, another podium for Dave Ryding, medals at X Games, great results in cross-country, moguls and aerials,” he told PlanetSKI.
“These are huge, huge, huge results.”
He puts the success down to the professionalism and support given by the governing body and funding from UK Sport that is better than ever.
“We need to be shouting about this success, spreading the good news and getting behind our athletes. We are seeing fantastic success across the disciplines.”
With everything else that’s going on in the world it’s been difficult to keep up with all the snowsport news.
GB has had some great results.
They include 18-year-old Zoe Atkin’s silver medal at the ski halfpipe World Cup in Aspen, Colorado, on 21st March.
It came just after she won bronze in the same event at the World Championships also in Aspen.
The final Park & Pipe competitions were held over the weekend of 27th-28th March with more strong results, though no podiums this time.
As the competitive season draws to a close, we pick out some of our highlights.
PARK & PIPE
Zoe Atkin has emerged from the shadow of her older sister, Izzy, who made sporting history with bronze in the ski slopestyle at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Zoe only turned 18 in January and is a clearly a hot prospect for the future.
The halfpipe specialist is considered a superb technical skier and her talent was rewarded with high scores at last weekend’s Aspen World Cup.
She scored 91.50 to take silver behind Canada’s Rachael Karker (93.25).
Little more than a week earlier her 90.50 score was enough for bronze at the World Championships behind China’s Eileen Gu (93.00) and Rachael Karker (91.75).
It’s not wholly surprising. Zoe was already a World Cup winner.
She had her first victory, aged 16, back in December 2019.
Izzy Atkin was the first of the sisters to rise to prominence. The 22-year-old is the only British skier to have an Olympic medal and she’s racked up some strong results since PyeongChang.
Most recently, she won silver in ski slopestyle at freestyle’s most prestigious annual competition, the X Games in Aspen in January.
Kirsty Muir is without question one of the brightest young stars to emerge from the GB Park & Pipe team.
The 16-year-old skier from Aberdeen has had a stunning season, capped by a silver medal in only her fourth World Cup start.
It came at the Aspen World Cup slopestyle on Saturday 20th March.
She kept a cool head and managed to land a dub 12 for the first time in competition.
Kirsty had a fall in the final slopestyle of the season in Silvaplana, Switzerland, and was unable to progress to the finals.
Despite that, she still managed to finish 2nd overall in the ski slopestyle standings – a remarkable achievement.
In the same event, team mate Katie Summerhayes was so close to a podium, lying in third place until the final skier. She missed out by .75 of a point and finished 4th in the event and in the final standings.
Mia Brookes is even younger than Kirsty Muir.
The 14-year-old snowboarder won silver in her first ever Europa Cup (one level down from the World Cup).
She then went even better with two victories (and another second place).
We don’t like to say ‘we told you so’ but…..
Another youngster we’ve featured in the past has continued to do well at Europa Cup level.
Snowboarder Gabe Adams (18) has had a few victories in big air – in February 2019 and January 2020 – and picked up another in February this year at Götschen in Germany.
There have been several more top 10 performances in Park & Pipe, including defending champion James Woods’ near-podium in the ski slopestyle at the World Championships.
A comparative ‘veteran’ at 29, Woodsy spent the best part of a year out of action with a serious knee injury but came back strong with 4th place in a highly competitive final.
In the final snowboard slopestyle of the season, last year’s Crystal Globe winner Katie Ormerod made it through to the final and finished 6th, meeting the British criteria for qualification for the Beijing Olympics.
SNOWBOARD & SKI CROSS
Charlotte Bankes is proving to be a very good ‘steal’.
The 25-year-old moved over from the French team to race Snowboard Cross for GB in 2018.
She became World Champion in February and then topped the podium again at the World Cup in Georgia this month.
She’s just picked up another podium to finish the season, with third place in Veysonnaz in Switzerland.
Also worth a mention is 19-year-old Huw Nightingale, who finished 4th in the Snowboard Cross at the Junior World Championships.
Ollie Davies (23) got to the first big final of his career at the Ski Cross World Championships in Idre Fjäll in Sweden in February and finished 4th.
MOGULS & AERIALS
These are not disciplines where GB has traditionally had the best of success but there have been some really good results this season and last
Thomas Gerken Schofield finished 6th in the dual moguls at the World Championships, with his sister Makayla finishing 13th.
Last season he became the first British skier to win a World Cup medal in moguls.
Makayla Gerken Schofield achieved a career best 6th place in the moguls at the World Cup in Deer Valley, Utah.
Will Feneley got his best World Cup result in dual moguls, with 11th at Idre.
And this week 16-year-old Mateo Jeannesson was 6th in the dual moguls at the Junior World Championships.
Lloyd Wallace, GB’s sole competitor in aerials, got his second best World Cup result with 9th place at the World Cup Finals in Almaty.
Dave Ryding, Great Britain’s most successful alpine skier of all time, collected the third World Cup podium of his career when he finished 3rd in the Adelboden slalom in January.
Over the 9-race season, the 34-year-old could not quite reach those heights again, managing just two more top 10s.
He still managed to finish the season 12th in the slalom World Cup standings and with more points than than last year.
The Rocket has been reflecting on social media.
“2021 in the books and to be back on the podium was absolutely epic!” he said.
“I had a couple of tough months at the end where I dropped off the boil a bit… but January was really rocking on the main part.”
Dave is already planning for his fourth Olympic Games in Beijing next year.
It could be his last, though who knows? Some alpine racers these days are still competing at the top level at 40.
He is confident that those coming behind him will take up the mantle and has congratulated the whole alpine team for their performances this season.
“This generation and the next look absolutely on point! 4 Europa Cup wins and a Europa Cup title in the squad… times are changing for skiing.. the ‘normal’ is now a very high level! Congrats to everyone we are building a great team!”
One of those he’s referring to is Billy Major, who joined him for a couple of World Cups while continuing to compete in Europa Cups.
With two European wins under his belt, the 24-year-old finished the season as the 2021 Europa Cup slalom champion.
Laurie Taylor (25) also won a Europa Cup slalom in Val Cenis – his first Europa Cup podium.
Charlie Guest (27) stormed to her best results in slalom this winter.
She clocked up a World Cup personal best 23rd place.
In the next race, she equalled it.
Then, in the race after that, she bettered it, finishing 16th.
Her season ended with victory at the Europa Cup finals.
Charlie Guest has now won more Europa Cup races than any other British alpine athlete.
Alex Tilley had her best giant slalom result at a World Championships, finishing 17th at Cortina d’Ampezzo in February.
There were encouraging results at the Junior World Championships in Bankso, Bulgaria, too.
Ed Guigonnet finished 13th in the super G, Britain’s best result in a speed race this century, while Abi Bruce‘s 21st in the giant slalom was the best women’s result since Chemmy Alcott in Tarvisio in 2002.
GB has a recent history of strong results in para skiing and snowboarding and this winter the tradition continued.
Highlights include a clutch of podiums for 18-year-old Neil Simpson in the Para Alpine World Cup.
He won silver with his brother and sighted guide Andrew Simpson in St Moritz in December.
He collected a gold and silver medal with sighted guide Lachlan Veitch in giant slalom at Leogang in February.
And he won double gold in the slalom World Cup at Leogang with Adam Hall.
Millie Knight and guide Brett Wild won bronze at the World Cup in Veysonnaz, Switzerland.
Para snowboarder James Barnes Miller had two second place finishes in the snowboard cross World Cup at Pyha.
But he saved the best till the very end of the season, winning gold in the snowboard cross World Cup in Colere, Italy on 1st April.
Ollie Hill took the silver medal in the same event.
James Barnes-Miller then went on to take the World Cup title.
The 31-year-old from Kent made his Paralympic debut in Pyeongchang in 2018.
“I’m overall World Cup winner for the season. Crystal Globe baby – wahoo. Great racing by everyone and a big thanks to the team,” he said on Twitter.
Barnes-Miller was born without a right hand.
He is aiming to be selected for his second Winter Paralympics in Beijing next year.
In what surely must be the most brutal of all disciplines, GB’s Andrew Young, Andrew Musgrave and James Clugnet have had another excellent season.
Andrew Young won silver in the Dresden World Cup to record the best ever result for a GB cross-country athlete.
He also won bronze for the sprint in Davos.
Along with Andrew Musgrave, he claimed Britain’s best results in the classic discipline in Ruka.
Young was 16th. Andrew Musgrave was 6th.
Musgrave was consistently up in the mix.
He had another 6th place and and 8th in World Cup races and was 7th in the gruelling 50km at the World Championships in Obersdorf, Germany. It was his best result in a 50km classic.
James Clugnet also made the top 10 with an 8th place in the Davos World Cup sprint free.
Snowboarder Cody Bramwell won a stage of the 2021 Freeride World Tour in Ordino Arcalis, Andorra.
He qualified for the finals held on the iconic Bec des Rosses in Verbier earlier this week and was on the podium again, finishing 2nd.
His results placed him 3rd overall in the FWT 2021 men’s snowboard rankings.
And last, but by no means least, GB’s most decorated skier of all time, Jasmin Taylor, finished 5th in the overall telemark standings this winter.
Jaz has more World Cup medals than any British skier in history, breaking the record last winter when she stepped on the podium for the 30th time.
Alec Dixon was 11th in both the sprint and classic at the World Championships, the best finish by a British man.
There were several personal bests from team skiers throughout the season.
Let’s not forget Reece Bell, daughter of the ex-GB racer Martin Bell.
She races for Denver University in Colorado, USA, and has been competing in Europe at times this winter.
She has had some promising results this year.
The best few: 1st, FIS Slalom, Jackson, Wyoming, Dec 2020, 20th Europa Cup Slalom, Zell am See, Austria, Jan 2021, 2nd, Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Championships Slalom, Park City, Utah, Feb 2021, 5th, National Collegiate Championships Slalom, Cannon Mtn, New Hampshire, March 2021.
“She continues to be ranked No. 3 in Britain in Women’s Slalom, behind Charlie Guest and Alex Tilley,” said Martin.
“She has lowered her world ranking this season.
“She has completed two seasons racing for the University of Denver and has two or three more seasons as an eligible athlete for them.”
Let’s give a big cheer to all the GB skiers and snowboarders who have achieved so much in this strange year.
And that includes those we haven’t been able to mention in this article who have all played their part.