Cheap ski holidays in hundreds of ski resorts worldwide.
“Be careful about conclusions you draw about people you’ve never met. I looked at the list of people and I was like, man, are you serious? This for a month? I’m actually a bit ashamed of that”. Like most comedians, funny man and snowboarding enthusiast Marcus Brigstocke is not largely known for his frank, philosophical remarks. Many will recognise the serial satirist from Have I Got News For You or Love Actually, whereas ski and comedy fans may know him from setting up the hugely successful Altitude Comedy Festival in Mayrhofen, Austria, near Innsbruck where The Jump is set. It seems the new show is bringing out a wonderful, softer side to him rarely seen with professional comedians. Obviously inspired by his experience so far, he was keen to tell me a story about his familiarity to snow sports before joining the show. “You know I used to ski years ago, and stopped all that for snowboarding which is easier and more fun. Big spongy carpet slippers, only one piece of equipment to worry about...” “There was a day that was both devastating and awesome in equal measure. My 9 year old son worked incredibly hard all week at ski school in Val D’isere. ‘I’m gonna bring you down The Face , one of the greatest ever downhill courses. I started picking up speed, and he stayed right with me. Then I was going pretty much as fast as I can go, and he said ‘am I alright to go now dad?’ and he just shot past me. It’s devastating.” Contestants, including Essex girl Amy Childs and Olympic hero Steve Redgrave, have been training hard with Warren Smith and former Team GB skeleton racer Amy Williams. It tests celebrities on Winter sport disciplines, including downhill ski and the bone-shatteringly scary skeleton bob, in which they slide down a course head first. But scariest of all is apparently ‘the jump’ itself. “The Jump is other worldly in terms of how scary it is. If you ski, you’ve probably done small kickers or little off-piste jumps, maybe hit a mogul with a bit of enthusiasm. This is different. Your ski’s get slotted in rails, and you can’t see anything you’re going to land on until you’re above it and in the air. I’m not an adrenaline junkie or anything like that…” “When I landed it I punched the air, and as soon as I was on my own, I felt tears stream down my face. I just turned to jelly and started crying. Unlike many of the other contestants, I’m still scared of the jump in a very visceral kind of way.” “Darren Gough, Laura Hamilton and Anthea Turner are fast becoming very good jumpers. Sinitta put skis on her feet for the first time a few weeks ago, and she’s been off the jump. She’s a lovely lady, but she’s not what you think of as a daredevil, adrenaline junkie or whatever - She does it with quiet determination. Same with Amy Childs, star of reality world. She learnt to ski a few weeks ago. The first day she put speed skis on, and coach said, ‘point down, tuck down, build your speed’, and she just nailed it. The video you see of her going ‘oh my god, oh my god’ – she gets a lot better than that.” The mere thought of Sinitta or Amy Childs scorpioning themselves in the head or face-planting the snow may sound like comedy gold for some sniggering viewers. But not for Brigstocke, who seems to have taken a shine to his new group of buddies. “I’m not here to collect stories on the people here. I’ll be interested to see how facing fears affects the next few stand up shows I do.” “Stand up is about exploring ideas in a fearless kind of way, but it’s a bit different to physical danger. But yeah there’ll definitely be material, if only making reference to the race suit they’ve got me in. Not a good look for a man of my size.” To many fans of Altitude, this “new material” could make an appearance at the next festival in March. “I can’t wait. A bunch of clowns up in the mountains, jumping around on our boards during the day, jumping around on stage at night... I’m out of the business side of Altitude now which suits me better. It makes me so proud that the festival is out there. This is for skiers and comedy lovers.” It’s not been all about the laughs though on set. Any sport that instigates fear of this magnitude has an element of danger – viewers may have been disappointed to see a few rumoured contestants missing in the live show on Sunday night. “There’s a couple of injuries I can’t tell you about, because we’re not sure how It’s going to affect taking part in the show. But I can tell you we’ve had Sam Jones (Flash Gordon) have his entire shoulder rebuilt. Then we have 2 broken bones possibly 3, bruising like I’ve never seen on anybody, and a ruptured hamstring I can confirm I’m in good shape though.” Injuries aside, it seems the show has brought an otherwise misfitting group of celebrities together, in what could turn out to be a great bit of TV. I ask Brigstocke what he has learnt since starting the show; “On a serious note, fears overcome makes you feel very good and those things are worth pursuing. On a further philosophical note – be careful about conclusions you draw about people you’ve never met. I looked at the list of people, and I was like, man, are you serious? This for a month? I’m actually a bit ashamed of that. These are actually really awesome people. I’ve shared with them some profound moments of overcoming some full-on fears. Oh, and I’ve learned to skeleton bob.” …and the golden question. CAN HE WIN? “It is possible. I’m not a very good jumper. Ultimately it comes down to that. With the other disciplines, I’m in the top 3. To play for the win is not what the cool boys do. I wanna win, I wanna get to the final.” By Danny
Excitement for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics reached fever pitch this week with the long awaited announcement of Team GB.
We caught up with former Olympic sprinter, Craig Pickering, who has been selected for the Team GB bobsled team, to hear his thoughts on this huge achievement.
Craig, Congratulations on qualifying for Team GB for Sochi 2014. What did you do when you heard you made the Olympic Team?
I was just relieved to have made it! I knew that once our second 4-man sled had qualified for the Games that I was almost certainly going to be selected, and so that was the major hurdle to overcome. We qualified in the last possible race, so it was quite a stressful few weeks, but in the end it all turned out fine.
It's not your typical British Saturday morning sporting activity, how did you get into bobsledding?
I used to be a sprinter, and I needed a back operation in March 2012 which ruled me out of the 2012 Olympic Games. Due to this, I lost my lottery funding, and so I needed to either get a job or find a sport that would provide me with some funding. I wasn't at all keen on getting a job, so the best option seemed to be finding another sport. My athletics coach and one of my training partners were already involved in the bobsleigh set up, so they put me in contact with the Performance Director, who was keen to give me a try out. I went to a few testing days and did very well, so the next step was to do some racing, and I haven't looked back since.
How have you found the transition from summer to winter Olympics?
Physically it hasn't been too difficult, as I was already a high performance athlete. The hardest thing physically has been putting on weight - I'm currently 16kg heavier than when I ran my best 100m time. This requires eating a lot of food and spending time in the gym. It can be really hard to eat enough food, as you are always full and it becomes hard work. The most difficult aspect has been the technical transition. It’s quite difficult to learn a new skill quickly, especially when there are three different positions in bobsleigh that I could possibly race at, but I have tried my best to become proficient at all of these positions.
Tell us about the fundraising efforts made for the team?
I'm fortunate enough to be supported by UK Sport and Lottery funding, so I haven't had to do any fund-raising efforts this year.
Have you always had an interest in winter sports?
I've never really been into winter sports before. As a professional sports person it’s probably not a good idea to ski or snowboard as there is a pretty high risk of injury. My girlfriend likes to snowboard, so once I retire I expect I’ll do some of that with her.
Do you have a favourite ski resort?
St Moritz is excellent as it’s the only natural bobsleigh track in the world, so it’s quite a different experience.
What other Olympic events are you looking forward to seeing?
I enjoy watching ice hockey, so will try and watch a few of those games. I also know a few of the bob-skeleton athletes so will be following their progress closely too.
How many times a day are you faced with references to Cool Runnings?
It happens quite a lot! I guess as it’s the only thing Joe Public knows about bobsleigh it’s going to happen quite a bit.I just smile and nod.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our interview with Craig as he prepares for the first Winter Olympic experience. The Sochi 2014 kicks off 7 February 2014 with Craig and the rest of the bobsled team hitting the track 16 February. We wish the team the very best of luck and look forward to a month of gripping winter entertainment.
You do not currently have any holidays in your shortlist.
You currently have in your shortlist.