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This week has been a mixed bag for British skiers and snowboarders. Resorts are enjoying incredible December conditions and holiday prices over the Christmas period are being slashed, which is the good news. The bad news for our professional athletes is UK Sport has cut all funding for skiing and snowboarding. This means the likes of Chemmy Alcott and Jamie Nicholls will have to find another way of funding the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The last few weeks have been a real disappointment for Chemmy, she started the season well with her new sponsors Atomic on board and some decent results. Hoping to build on a positive 2009/10 season Chemmy looked in good shape. Then it all went wrong... she broke her leg training with the Canadian ski team in Lake Louise and her funding took a hit.
Jamie Nicholls has made a superb start to the winter. So far he has enjoyed top ten finishes in two TTR events, the Burton NZ Open and the Freeze Festival. His sponsors, Nike, look to be pushing him after a good showing at the D-Pad sessions. If Sochi 2014 are to add slopestyle to the program surely Jamie Nicholls has the potential to win medals.
Last night a few of our top winter sports athletes were interviewed by Chappers on 5 Live including Chemmy, Amy Williams, Jenny Jones and Dan Wakeham. Graham Bell was also on the show to add his two pennies worth, and to remind us he apparently skied back in 85. The show, for those who missed it, was very interesting and hearing how the sports rely on the funding from UK Sport was an eye opener.
As you would expect from Ski Sunday presenter and former British number one skier, Graham Bell definitely wanted to voice his opinion. As he put it the way the funding cuts have been made and how the money has been pushed into other sports (namely curling, skeleton and London 2012) UK Sports have decided to take the easy option. To be a successful World Cup, TTR and Olympic skier or snowboarder takes a huge amount of talent and an incredible level of dedication. What Graham argues is that UK Sport has decided to support sports that would be easier to win medals in, opposed to prestigious sports where the talent is there, it just needs support and nurturing.
No one can disagree that after her Olympic Gold Amy Williams deserves support and she has definitely raised the profile of Skeleton. As Amy pointed out last night, there is no commercial sponsorship in her specialty and neither her or the team benefit from financial backing from commercial backing the way other athletes do - though she did thank BMW for kindly giving her a car. Where I support helping our proven winners develop the rise in funding of £1.3 million seems steep, especially when skiing and snowboarding only previously received £620,000 between them. How can we ignore the talent we have on the slopes then up Women's Bob sleigh from £500,000 to £2.4m?
Okay so I have to admit I am a little biased, but as Chemmy put it skiing is 'an exciting sport, it's a blue ribbon event' and according to NBC Shaun White was the most watched individual in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Ski Sunday has been around for 32 years because skiing and snowboarding are entertaining, the boarder-cross and skier-cross in last years games were a hug hit, yet Zoe Gillings (who finished 8th) now has to rely on her one finance and sponsors to compete. Britain has always loved an underdog but how can we expect athletes who have the talent (Zoe, Jamie and Chemmy) to win the medals we crave without support and how can we expect other younger skiers and snowboarders to come through the ranks.
Thanks to the success of riders like Jenny Jones and Tyler Chorlton there is money from sponsors to help these kids make a living, but in the end sponsors are paying them to do a job for them, and will only support select riders that suit there image. Chemmy, our number one skier has to train with Canada's ski team and is barley surviving after her crash, when Snowsports GB went under last year it cost her £20,000.
Yes support the winners we have but also support our elite athletes and those with the potential to rival the Lindsay Vonns and Shaun Whites of this world and don't expect someone else to do it. There is more chance of Jenny Jones winning a medal than the England football team at the moment!
First of all I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in last nights event. Thanks to everyone who turned up, bought raffle tickets and took part. Thank you to everyone who sent us prizes or donations. Thank you to Tim Warwood for a very entertaining evening. Thank you to the Kings Arms for letting us take over their pub and hosting us. Because of all these people we have managed to raise a staggering £1200 for Snow-Camp.
So, for those of you who missed last night, it was a hugely successful night. 15 teams of friends, colleagues and fans of the charity turned up ready for an evening of fun, and helped make for a cracking night.
The quiz kicked off a little later than expected, though this did help us sell a few more raffle tickets and the extra beers drank helped the excitement build. Tim arrived with his usual humour and charm and started with the Brummie banter pretty quickly. There were a couple of hiccups at the start with the mic not working but we quickly found Tim's ability to project his voice added to the entertainment.
We started off with a potato sculpting round, giving everyone a spud, a knife and some cocktails stick, where they had to produce a themed scene by the end of the evening. The quiz questions were maybe a little more difficult then anticipated but this didn't cause too many issues, as easy quizzes can be boring and Tim was selling answers at £1 a go - topping up the night's fundraising.
The music round went down a treat and included some great movie tracks, from Velvet Underground in Juno, to Happy Gilmore. After two hours of questions, music and guess the celebrity faces it was time to judge the potato round. Now the content of this round wouldn't make it past the Iglu firewall, so just imagine what a room full of adults, in good spirits after a drink or two can come up with.
The quiz had been a good laugh and it was time to give away the prizes in the raffle. We started off with the T-shirts from Ski Big Three, some CD's from Virgin Records and some DVD's from Whitelines, building up the anticipation of the main prizes. Next we had the Oakley goggles to give away, the jackets donated by Metrosnow.co.uk and to finish off the skis from Ski Big Three. Having tickets in two colours caused some comedy confusion. We had a few comedy cases of people screaming and shouting in excitement at winning a prize only to find out the ticket was the other colour!
All in all the evening was a hit, we've raised money for Snow-Camp, entertained our crowd and have already had requests for the next one. A few weeks of hard work have paid off and it was more than worth it. Once again than you to everyone.
We will put the evening's photos onto the Igluski Facebook page shortly and if you would like to donate head to our Just Giving page.
This year's Relentless Freeze Festival looked like it was ready to step up the UK's premier winter sports festival a notch and Friday's British themed day proved to be a great warm up to a superb weekend.
The main event of the day was the Battle of Britain competition on the huge ski-jump-esque set up. The crowd were treated to a great spectacle with the best of British taking part. Jenny Jones, Gary Greenshields, Jamie Nicholls and Andy Nudds were all throwing it down, and though it is only early in the season the UK riders were really pushing the limit of the jump. Due to warm weather the run in was a little slower than expected, though that didn't stop the guys throwing down some serious tricks.
With Olympian Dom Harington and X-Games winner Jenny Jones not making the final it looked like current Brits champion Jamie Nicholls would be among the favourites. His double-corked 1080 got the crowd going, though due to the hand drag on the landing he only made third place. Scott Penmann had joked with the competitions MC's, Tim Warwood & Christian Stevenson, earlier in the day that his only trick was the double front flip, which he styled out to claim second place. With the lack of speed making the double cork almost impossible Billy Morgan finished the afternoon with a perfectly executed double back flip, gaining both a huge cheer from the crowd and bagging him first place.
Once the snowboarding had taken place there was an hour or so to go until the premier of Jeremy Jones new film Deeper and the Battle of Britain ski competition. With 20,000 people expected over the weekend this was the biggest Freeze Festival yet and with Relentless on board the entertainment had stepped up a gear.
Over by the For Boarder By Boarders stand they had set up a small mini-ramp, and to the backdrop of some beatboxing in the Desperados tent, we were treated to a mini skate demo with Vans snowboarder Chris Chatt showing off his skills on four wheels. There was also a bike demonstration from a couple of guys in the Relentless team including a 1.2m bunny hop and a variety of super-mans, tail whips and back flips all on show.
Battle of Britain Snowboard
Battle of Britain Ski
Friday was an absolutely awesome experience, and though some of the biggest names in freestyle skiing, snowboarding and music were to follow it will take some beating.
Photo's © Paul Anthony Easton
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