After a record-setting season, GB Snowsport’s alpine program faces a considerable reduction in UK Sport funding. As reported in the article, The Brit Six are setting new standards, the British Alpine ski team is producing historic results. Therefore, it would have surprised no one if their budget had considerably increased. Generally, improved performance attracts additional resources.
Unfortunately, the opposite has happened. UK Sport has decided to reduce its support for alpine skiing dramatically. Historically, the organization has provided a significant portion of the revenue required to operate the program. So UK Sport should be recognized for contributing to the fantastic 2021-22 British results. However, their decision to drastically reduce their funding is now threatening the program’s existence. Notably, the successful Europa Cup program has become a casualty and will not continue during the 2022-23 season.
What is UK Sport
What is UK Sport? Quoting directly from the website, “The primary role of UK Sport is to strategically invest income from The National Lottery and Exchequer to maximize the performance of UK athletes in the summer and winter Olympic and Paralympic Games and other major championship events.”
Over the long term, the UK Sport organization has invested heavily in British sports and has produced strong results.
Dangers of overdependence exposed
Undoubtedly it is a significant advantage for a national program to access government financial resources. It’s become clear, however, that GB Snowsport had become over-dependent on the UK Sport funding. The program’s over-dependence has created a vulnerability that could now become catastrophic to elite ski racing in Great Britain.
In our discussions with GB Snowsport alpine members, they all expressed appreciation of UK Sport’s previous contributions. They acknowledge that UK Sport has invested heavily in British alpine skiing for years and it has contributed significantly to their ability to succeed. However, news of the funding cuts hit them like a gut punch.
What is clear, however, is that the significant setback is not taking the fight out of the program. GB Snowsport alpine has answered pervious threats and is determined to solve the current challenge. Consequently, with the help of the British ski community, this financial difficulty will be overcome. Without the help, the athletes will become entirely self-funded and that funding scenario is not a sustainable system.
It is time to rally around the GB Snowsport alpine team. These high-performing athletes show their commitment daily. They have continually demonstrated their dedication to athletic excellence. Additionally, for years now, they have also invested financially in their programs. Notably, GB Snowsport has required most of these World Cup athletes to contribute 25,000 GBP, USD 30,000, to help cover the costs of their teams. This reality indeed emphasizes their previous level of commitment.
Ski Racing Media reached out to team members to understand their perceptions of GB Snowsport alpine.
Charlie Raposo alpine athlete
Raposo is a former GMVS student and was the first British male to score World Cup GS points since the 60s. Raposo says, “British alpine racing, to me, shows that no matter the obstacles to success, you can find a way to beat them. We aren’t an alpine nation and aren’t supposed to be able to compete at the top. However, here we are with a British World Cup win in Kitzbühel and hopefully, there will be many more to come.”
Charlie Guest alpine athlete
She is a two-time Olympian who finished the 2021-22 season 26th in the season SL standings. Guest shares her thoughts about British skiing. “GB Alpine is so much about people going all in for something we are passionate about. We all just love skiing and want to be the best in the world. Nothing makes me prouder than being part of a team who, despite all the odds, are standing up alongside the giants of the sport”
Dave Ryding alpine athlete
Ryding is a 4 time Olympian and Kitzbühel World Cup SL winner. Ryding says, “It’s the story of the underdog. Single-minded dedication to achieve goals otherwise deemed fantasies. I’ve gone above and beyond my wildest dreams and want to inspire others to do the same.”
Billy Major alpine athlete
Major won the Europa Cup Slalom title during the 2020-21 season and then in 2021-22 parlayed his ability into an Olympic spot and his first World Cup points. Majors comments, “It’s all about inspiration. The past generation has inspired me. The current generation inspires me. I can’t wait to hopefully inspire the next generation.”
Laurie Taylor alpine athlete
Taylor Is a PyeongChang Olympian and Europa Cup SL winner. Additionally, he scored World Cup points in Madonna di Campiglio and Kitzbühel. Taylor states, “For me, British Alpine skiing represents dreaming big. Going after something seemingly unattainable, throwing everything at it and loving every moment of it.”
Alain Baxter coach
Baxter is a former British Olympian and World Cup racer who finished the 2000-01 season 11th in the standings. Baxter is currently coaching with the men’s SL team. He shares his feeling about the program, “20 years on from the prime of my career and British alpine skiing continues to prosper and reach new heights despite financial difficulties. GB alpine had its strongest season ever in 2022 – being a part of it now as a coach has made me just as proud helping and watching these guys succeed as it did when I was a racer.”
Paul Trayner GB Snowsport alpine director
British Alpine Director Paul Trayner expresses, “The UK Sport’s decision to remove alpine from the World Class Programme is, of course, extremely disappointing. However, we need to take this moment to do all that we can to bring the British alpine community together. We need to come together to find a sustainable way forward to continue to support our athletes.
After all, 2021-22 was the best season ever for the GB Snowsport alpine squad. Six athletes scoring World Cup points and the incredible win in Kitzbühel for Dave Ryding are clear evidence these athletes deserve to continue their tireless hard work and achievements.”
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