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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!
Over the past couple of weeks I have been organising a charity pub quiz with fellow iglu-ite Esther Collas, in an attempt to raise money for a London based snowsports charity.
Snow-Camp are a youth charity that offer disadvantaged inner city kids life skills programs and the opportunity to ski and snowboard. As keen snowboarders we were keen to give these kids the chance to experience the sports we love.
Esther - "I was lucky enough to put on my first pair of skis at the age of 13 when I went away with school. At 19 I turned to the dark side (snowboarding) and have never looked back. Not everyone has the opportunity to ski and snowboard and are not as fortunate as myself. Snow-Camp are able to offer this opportunity and I wanted to play a small part in helping someone fall in love with the sport as much as I did."
The idea for the quiz came from wanting to offer something in exchange for donations rather than begging people for money. Esther is taking part in the Everest challenge, where she will join Snow-Camp and other fund-raisers in covering 150km of the Portes du Soleil in 48hrs. The challenge will include snowboarding to every corner of the ski area, a night session and finishing off with a 5 km hike. We are aiming to raise at least £1500 and don't worry the money raised won't be paying for the snowboarding trip, all the participant's pay for that themselves.
The Entertainment - Tim Warwood
You may recognise Tim from the TSA's snowboard films he did with the Lockdown Projects, his MC-ing at the Freeze Festival or the X-Fighters in Battersea. He also has a Kerrang radio show and presents for Freesports of Four and the Extreme Sports Channel. For those who are not familiar with Mr. Warwood his is very entertaining and big supporter of UK snowsports.
With Tim's enthusiasm, humour and charm the evening will go off with a bang, so far he has requested a round involving potatoes and toothpicks (any ideas what these are for please comment below).
First of all we would like to say a big thank you to everyone mentioned below for their generous prize donations and support, to Tim for his quiz master skills and to Richard Downes, the CEO of Iglu who is going to contribute generously.
There is also a rumour that our head of I.T. may have secret prize for us, but when I.T. are involved anything can happen!
Last but by no means least the good chaps at the Kings Arms, where will be hosting the evening, are going to give the winners of the quiz a round of drinks and maybe even some nibbles to get us through the evening.
If you haven't been invited and would like to come give us a shout on the IgluSki Facebook page to find out if there are any tickets left. Wish us well and I'll let you know how it all went next week.
Written by Stephen Adam
Warren Miller's 61st annual nationwide ski and snowboard film tour is currently underway in cinemas across the UK. The tour offers fans the chance of seeing the latest film in HD a full season before it hits the shops, and if you're a fan of ski and snowboard films this year's tour is a must see.
Warren Miller's Wintervention is another of this winter's offerings that push the boundaries of snowsports, with incredible locations, skiing and stories making up this year's film. The film starts with some pretty funny adverts from the Ski Club and Columbia, though I'm pretty sure only the latter is intentional! With the so-called skier-snowboarder divide almost non-existent these days the film combines both sports, with skiing making up about 70% of the film, but the snowboarding sections were more than a mere a gap filler including big names like Torstein Horgmo & Haldor Helgasson. Throughout the film the crowd in Shepherd's Bush Vue ooh'd, ah'd and ouch'd to big lines, stylish tricks and inevitable stacks and crashes.
This year's film is pretty high-octane from the start. The standout sections of the film are the trip to the Antarctic, heli-skiing in interior British Columbia, the trip to Georgia and the Arctic circle skiing in Spitzbergen. There is also a great section where Sun Peaks' locals Reggie & Zach Crist drive out to Utah's back country with big-mountain newbie Lexi Dupont to fuel their skiing addiction. The section includes some particularly amusing moments, from Lexi's comment "These guys... they’ve got a problem. Wife and kid at home, and they are out here in their airstream skiing", to the cheeky comments from Crist's wife back in the family home.
The trips to Antarctica & Spitzbergen, though opposite ends of the planet, offered some truly awe-inspiring moments. Some of the steepest lines I've seen, bar maybe the Arctic section in Deeper, and set in an immense backdrop. The Antarctica section includes some good natured fun with a sketch including a screen full of penguins and finishing off with skiing off an iceberg. The section in Spitzbergen shows our threesome of ski addicts from the earlier Utah section hiking incredible lines, camping and of course watching the locals (Polar bears) from a safe distance.
Wintervention also has a short tribute to back country legend Arne Backstom, who passed away in a skiing accident in Peru during the summer. The section shows him skiing some of his favourite lines in Heavenly and showed us why he will be missed by the skiing community as a whole.
My favourite section of Wintervention was the trip to Columbia Mountains, interior British Columbia. The section starts with an introduction to the heli-skiing area in the Bugaboo Mountains that had been discovered by Austrian skier Hans Gromer back in the '60s, the guide also enjoys pointing out that the ski area they use is 60 times larger than every ski resort in North America combined! There is steep, deep powder, high speed tree-lined runs and the amazing scenery, the Bugaboos are skiing heaven and the film portrays this superbly. By the end of this section half the crowd was salivating at the thought of being there.
The evening as a whole was good fun, and half way through the film there was a short, but fun interval. Jim from Black Diamond turned up with some prizes from the sponsors including some skis from Rossignol and a couple of jackets from Columbia.
All in all it was a great evening and another great must see film. For those not lucky enough to have seen Warren Miller's 'Wintervention' yet, the tour runs until the 14th Jan so get yourself to your local viewing or get the 2011 release on pre-order as soon as possible!
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