British Skiers & Snowboarders Make Sporting History
21st February 2023 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Last modified on February 26th, 2023
Every single ski and snowboard discipline under the GB Snowsport banner has now delivered a World Cup, World Championships or X Games podium this season. And it’s not over yet.
It’s a record for the Brits and it came with a World Cup silver medal for ski cross athlete Ollie Davies in Reiteralm, Austria, on Friday 17th February.
It was a double celebration as it was Davies’ first World Cup podium of his career.
It will send him into the Freestyle World Championships in Bakuriani, Georgia, this week with confidence.
He’ll be the first Brit to take to the snow, with the ski cross qualifiers on Thursday 23rd February.
Two years ago at the Worlds in Idre Fjall, Davies very nearly made the podium, with a 4th place.
The results across the disciplines – which include 10 gold medals – are especially welcome following UK Sport’s decision last summer to cut GB Snowsport’s funding.
“It has been so incredible to see every single one of our disciplines deliver medals this season, and with some of the year’s biggest competitions still to come we’ve got real hopes of adding to our tally,” the GB Snowsport CEO, Vicky Gosling, told PlanetSKI.
“It’s no secret that this has been a tough year, but our team are really proving that we’ve got the grit, determination, and skill to be counted among the very best in the world.”
GB MEDALS THIS SEASON TO 21st FEBRUARY (all World Cup unless specified)
- Gold – Charlotte Bankes x 3
- Bronze – Charlotte Bankes x 1
- Silver – Ollie Davies x 1
- Bronze – Makayla Gerken Schofield x 1
- Gold – Zoe Atkin x 1 (X Games)
- Silver – Zoe Atkin x 1
- Silver – Kirsty Muir x 1
- Bronze – Kirsty Muir x 2 (X Games)
- Silver – Mia Brookes x 1
- Bronze – Andrew Musgrave x 1
- Silver – Dave Ryding x 1
- Gold – James Barnes-Miller x 4
- Gold – Ollie Hill x 1
- Silver – James Barnes-Miller x 2
- Silver – Scott Meenagh x 1
Para Alpine (all World Championships)
- Gold – Neil Simpson & Rob Poth x 1
- Silver – Neil Simpson & Rob Poth x 1
- Silver – Menna Fitzpatrick & Katie Guest x 1
- Bronze – Neil Simpson & Rob Poth x 1
- Bronze – Menna Fitzpatrick & Katie Guest x1
- Bronze – Jaz Taylor x 2
The season’s tally so far got us thinking about what, back in 2017, seemed like a wildly ambitious goal announced by the national governing body.
Then called British Ski & Snowboard, it declared confidently that it was aiming to become a Top 5 winter sports nation by 2030.
Not just in the traditionally strong Park & Pipe events, but across the ski and snowboard disciplines.
The announcement by the then Performance Director, Dan Hunt, resulted in a few jaw-drops, ours included.
But we’ve been keeping an eye on how it’s been going ever since.
With seven years to go, we are no longer 100% convinced that it’s a pipedream.
Of course, some veteran high-performers will have retired by 2030, but the youngsters coming up behind them are already delivering the goods.
Vicky Gosling remains optimistic.
“We’ve set our ambitions for this decade really high and we’re under no illusions there’s a whole lot of hard work ahead of us,” she told PlanetSKI, “but the performance and trajectory of British athletes is really starting to speak for itself, and I see no reason why, with the right support around us, we can’t go on to achieve even more history-making performances over the next few years.”
The real question is whether the momentum of the last few years can be maintained.
And, crucially, what happens to GB Snowsport’s funding and how it manages what it has.
To say the funding situation has been a rollercoaster is somewhat of an understatement.
This was our take on the situation in 2020, when it had just been announced that GB Snowsport’s funding from UK Sport had more than doubled:
And then in summer 2022 when Alpine, Cross-Country and Para Nordic all lost their funding, despite some great results:
The funding cut was a huge disappointment to GB Snowsport which made some tough and, at times criticised, decisions.
The governing body used to support Alpine, Cross Country and Para Nordic Europa Cup teams, made up of athletes aspiring to reach the next level and get onto the World Cup team.
Those programmes are no more.
Some of those who were on the programmes have spoken out about the decision which, they say, has left them unable to fund their sport.
One is alpine skier Rob Poth.
This season he has been acting as a guide for visually impaired para skier Neil Simpson and has picked up three Para Alpine World Championships medals with him.
“Following the total collapse of the GBS Europa Cup programme last year, there has been no choice for me but to work and explore different avenues of being able to have time on snow without spending thousands of ££ which I no longer can afford,” Poth said on Instagram recently.
“I have tried to do everything I can just to be able to still ski in any way whether that may be coaching, instructing and as of most recently, guiding.”
He added: “Over the past years I personally feel as though I have been let down on numerous occasions. With little to no communication, no structure and mismanagement in place of a programme, I have basically from all of this been left to my own resources to try and carry on my career following funding cuts which the federation knew was coming.”
In recent years other GB athletes have been forced to leave an expensive sport they can no longer afford to participate in at a high level.
The future will not be easy, but right now Great Britain has some incredible snowsport athletes and coaches working hard for themselves, the families and others who support them and their country.
We wish them well for the rest of the season and beyond.
The 2023 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships are taking place from 19th February to 5th March in Georgia. A GB Team of 13 skiers and snowboarders are competing.