What makes Mark Quinn get involved with British ski racing?

These are exciting times to be involved in British ski racing: New sponsors getting involved in the sport, new equipment providers bringing state of the art clothing to the team and the results are coming thick and fast. Ryding taking fifth in Val d'Isere is the latest of a host of results at every level. One man has been involved behind the scenes in securing funding and continuing his support for athletes at the top and on their way up: Mark Quinn. CEO and owner of Quinn Estates used to race and has now been involved in supporting racers for a number of years since being introduced to Ryding a number of years ago.

As we sat down talking and discussing why he had got involved in the sport, it was not lost on either of us that 'Rocket man' by Elton John was playing in the background. It is well known that Quinn Estates have been a long time sponsor of Ryding and Ryding's nickname is 'The Rocket.'

Quinn caught the ski racing bug in his teens but was brave enough to say that he was not good enough to make the upper echelons of the sport. Since being involved in ski racing, what does he feel are the benefits to him? Quinn replies frankly: "I feel good about it."

"I did not really get the opportunity that I felt I should have done, when I was growing up," he continued, "My first involvement was with Dave through an introduction by Adam Sullivan, and I got a lot out of it from Dave in terms of how involved he got me and that drove me on to help other people."

Quinn is honest and frank when he answers the question 'Why do I do it?' "I do it to give people the chance that they deserve. I do not think that the British Government or Lottery funding does that. I think that we have to step up and try and do something about it.

"As somebody who can affect the situation, I do the best I can do. That is why I do it," he explains.

Quinn and his business Quinn Estates, is probably the biggest sponsor in British Winter sport at the moment. He is currently sponsoring Dave Ryding, Laurie Taylor, Billy Major, Luca Carrick-Smith and Alex Tilley and has in the past also supported Charlie Guest and Charlie Raposo. When all these names are mentioned Quinn smiles with proud satisfaction in the support he has been able to offer.

Would he like to be in the ski boots racing again? "No. I get the enjoyment out of what I do now," he explains. "I love skiing but unfortunately I was not good enough."

Quinn knows what it takes to be successful.

"If you want to be successful," he explains, "you need to read more, you need to think more, you need to analyse more, you need to focus, you need to exercise, you need to do more than anyone else is prepared to do," he explains. There is a fine line between doing enough and doing too much, something that Dave Ryding adhered to in an interview with Racer Ready earlier this season.

"There is no magic formula, it is simply a matter of ten thousand hours," Quinn frankly explains.

"I think people think it is based on talent? Talent is you being able to replicate something that you have learned. I do not believe in it. I believe in graft and I believe in hunger and in vision. I think the guys and girls that we sponsor embody that," he adds.

"I think that they have real determination and drive. When I watched Dave beat Marcel Hirscher in Kitzbühel (in 2017), I cannot tell you what it did. It was a metal atmosphere. For a guy to go into his backyard and smash him, was just mental. That came from graft."

Ryding is well known for his graft and hard work. In his early days he knew that he had to make the most of every opportunity that came his way and it was this attitude that appealed to Quinn.

"We look for people that really want to do it," Quinn continues in explaining what he looks for when sponsoring someone."We look for people that want to sacrifice to be the best."

These are the same attributes that Quinn looks for when employing some one in his multi million pound firm that now employs over 430 people in the South East of England. "If you want to be successful, you have to dig deeper and work harder than other people do," adding "If you want to be the best you have to graft, you have to be prepared to take risks and to look stupid and be prepared to fail. A lot of people do not want to do that these days."

How does Quinn feel that team sponsorship for the GB Snowsport teams is? Quinn was personally instrumental in bringing Redrow on board to the World Cup and Europa Cup teams as a team sponsor. "I think that skiing has got to try and punch harder," Quinn feels. "You have nearly a million participants in the sport, which is huge, in one of the richest countries in the world. I think there should be more companies that are stepping up. We (Quinn Estates) should be minnows in it really.

"Getting Redrow in is exciting. They are a multi-billion pound a year business. I think that if they taste success from this, this could be in many ways, this could help bring someone major in, which is why we do it. This is what I would like to see, it being easier for normal children, who do not have rich parents, like Dave and Alex being able to make it. I do not think it is a good idea if money is the only factor in why someone succeeds or fails. I think it should be down to graft."

Quinn is adamant that he does not think the sport sells itself well enough or hard enough as it looks for more sponsorship. Quinn would like to see more research into the impact of sponsorship and what it has done in other countries, this is something that GB Snowsport have already embarked on.

With so many sports, clubs, organisations and individuals all chasing support securing sponsorship is not an easy job. The success that Ryding, Guest and Raposo have all had on the World Cup already this year, has certainly helped bring the sport more into the public eye.

Quinn is grateful for the kickback from the athletes that he sponsors. Quinn feels lucky that they all involve him in their programme, "they all make us feel that what we are doing means something to them," Quinn explains, "this is key for a sponsor that we feel that."

When Alex Tilley injured herself in November, Quinn's support continued regardless.

Mark Quinn the businessman, Mark Quinn the sponsor, Mark Quinn also the Super Fan? Quinn grins and answers sheepishly "Yeah, massively they are entwined! As a business can we justify it, probably not. Can I justify it to myself about how it makes me feel? Yes"

Quinn has a strong management team around him and is fortunate that he does have people around him that do question his decisions occasionally. Yes it his business but he knows what makes him happy. "I love what I do and feel lucky to be able to do it. I have a great bunch of people that I work with."

Quinn shows his ski racing super fan attributes in wanting to see more skiing on television. He would like to see more than just a weekly show from Ski Sunday but with so many sports clamouring for coverage and limited number of channels, maybe the internet could satisfy the hunger for coverage. There are moves by FIS to pull back control of event rights in the future to help expand the appeal of the sport.

Skiing needs more people like Mark Quinn to get involved in the sport. The sport is changing from the top down and with four British athletes in the top 100 in the World rankings, things are looking very promising for the future. Success breeds success but Quinn believes there needs to be more funding at the Development level, "The Government gets good bang for its buck," he believes. With UK Sport funding through the Lottery geared around medals at the Olympics, pressure is on for that source of funding come February and Beijing.

"We should definitely be doing more." Quinn states.

Quinn knows about the benefits of sport socio-economically. "Any sport that leads people to setting goals, discipline, doing things to being a successful unit, and that is what sport does. It keeps kids out of prison, off the streets, they cannot do drugs if that want to perform at that level. the benefits of sport are huge and I do not think that it gets the credit that it should."

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