British Ski and Snowboard AGM - Optimism for the future

The days of spend, spend, spend are over at the British Ski and Snowboard. In 2017 - 2018 they spent approximately £52,000 under the budget that was targeted for the year. The last year has seen a more professional coaching outlook combined with a desire of the top athletes to be part of the system, especially in the alpine programme. As a result of the more diversified outlook in regards to income, there is a great deal of optimism and this was evident at the recent Annual General Meeting of British Ski and Snowboard. With a new CEO taking over from Dave Edwards, Vicky Gosling has her hands full in reaching the target of being a top five winter sports nation by 2030.

Rory Tapner chaired the meeting and explained that the last year had been an exceptional season on the sporting front for the BSS: six top ten results at the Olympics along with two medals by Billy Morgan and Issy Atkins as well as the success of the Alpine Team in placing fifth in the Team event, meant Tapner was ‘thrilled’ with the performances in Pyeongchang.

Add to this the recent success of Ollie Davies winning the World Junior Title in Ski Cross and the success of Jasmin Taylor in Telemark, Tapner explained that the ‘pipeline of things is beginning to build, it is exciting.’ Tapner continued that he felt Taylor was ‘the best British athlete we have ever had,’ in his opinion, after her success on the Telemark World Cup last season.

With Pat Sharples moving into a new role of Head of Coaching for the BSS, the role Dan Hunt, the Performance Director, has played has been crucial in providing the talented athletes Britain has, with coaches that can see them continue improving. The coaches are now working with each other, utilising each others skill set to the benefit of the British Team athletes. An example of this was Noel Baxter recently contacting another British Team coach regarding the best process for coping with long distance travel for Alex Tilley and Charlie Guest.

After eight years in the post, Dave Edwards left the role of CEO earlier this year and has been replaced by Vicky Gosling. This is not the only change that Tapner has over seen this summer. There are plans to hold conference calls for the benefit of the members of the BSS. During these calls, Vicky Gosling and Dan Hunt will explain what is going on, current activity and future plans. It is hoped that this will also be a podcast as well for those not able to listen on the day. These will take place twice a year and there will also be a separate conference call for the athletes to dial into. Tapner explained “we want to get the athletes more involved.”

One of the highlights for Tapner this year was the way all the athletes that went to the Olympics felt as one team and not lots of teams.

As with everything, the issue of funding arose and while there was an under spend last season, the new season sees a lot of new programmes being added to the overall picture, Ski Jumping and a Moguls programme have been added. This will mean more funds needing to be secured rather than existing budgets being squeezed. The need to move away from a reliance on the UK Sport Funding has been recognised and Tapner was keen to emphasise the need to ‘build a diversified source of funds.’

Sponsorship has changed dramatically in the last few years as technology and promotion have developed. Gone are the days of the logo being placed on the race suit and over jackets and that being that. Modern sponsorship has evolved into being more of partnerships.

As the results across the disciplines have improved dramatically in the last ten years, sponsors are now part of the story, it is a two way benefit.

The relationship with UK Sport is good, Tapner continued but with the budget going up by £1.6million for the forthcoming season, an increase of over 30%, where is the new money coming from? Tapner explained where the money is coming from: “UK Sport are part of it, but the smaller part of it. Commercialisation, plus rebooting the SnowSport Industry Fund (£1 per person travelling on holidays) and the Amazon scheme, plus private benefaction from supporters. BSS have established a scheme with Amazon which allows them to collect some commission for sales through a direct link into Amazon.  All you have to do is use and shop in any department you choose.”

These are exciting times with BSS and yet as Gosling pointed out, it is ‘time for change.’ We have amazing disciplines across the board and the ‘One Team’ ethos is looking to promote excellence across the board.

There are exciting projects being lined up for the future that will continue the improvements that have been put in place. Asked whether he had all the boxes ticked in terms of the coaching staff, Dan Hunt explained ‘yes’ but then added things are moving forward and if we stay still we will lose the momentum.’ He is always looking to improve things.

In November this year the British Ski and Snowboard will go through a rebranding. Gosling ended her speech to those at the AGM by explaining ‘people should not be confused as to what we do. This is a perfect time to showcase what we do. The aim for 2030 is possible and real.’

There is a lot of optimism surrounding the sport at the moment as it is moving forward with the times. We have great athletes playing at the top table. There is a recognition that the pathway needs to be looked at to ensure that there is a legacy beyond the next couple of Olympic cycles.

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