British Parasnowsport are always on the lookout for new talent to join the development pathway to help talented disabled snowsport enthusiasts learn more about what it takes to become an elite, world class athlete. The journey isn’t quick or easy and it requires a great deal of time, energy and commitment before a disabled person can make the transition from recreational skier or boarder to elite athlete.
What does being an athlete involve?
The journey to become a British athlete is far more than simply being a good skier or snowboarder and enjoying a week or two away in your favourite resort each winter (although that is always fun!). The vast majority of the Alpine Ski and Snowboard teams are supported by the Scottish Institute for Sport ensuring they are physically fit and working hard every day in the gym (on and off snow!) with support from Sports Psychologists and Performance Lifestyle Coaches ensuring our athletes have a lifestyle and psychological approach to their sport which gives them the best possible chance of success on the hill.
All of our Athletes have made a significant on-snow time commitment, off-snow physical training commitment and a range of additional expectations and responsibilities to the team all of which is set out in an athlete contract. Depending on the level at which each athlete skis or boards - International Paralympic Committee level races, European Cup races or World Cup, World Championships and Paralympic level - an annual programme is developed and put in place varying between 20 - 100 days on snow plus off-snow training.
Where do I begin my journey?
Many athletes engaged with British Parasnowsport through its parent charity Disability Snowsport UK spending time at indoor snow domes or on DSUK’s ski school on Cairngorm mountain in Scotland establishing the fundamentals of being a good recreational skier. If you are interested in finding out more about the alpine and snow board teams please get in touch with British Parasnowsport who will put you in touch with colleagues at DSUK who can arrange for a programme of lessons although these will be at your own expense.
After you have spent some time consolidating your basic technique your DSUK instructor will provide an informal report to the team Development and Pathways Coach. Once the team have this informal report they will be in touch to provide details about DSUK’s Access for All race series (held indoors at snow domes through the UK) and if appropriate any forthcoming British Parasnowsport Talent Identification days where a more detailed assessment or your skiing or boarding will be made and whether you might be eligible for classification.
Eligibility to compete is a really important part of any snow sport athlete’s development, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has a classification which sets out the minimum levels of impairment required for a range of disabilities focusing on visual and physical impairment. In order compete internationally British Parasnowsport must have a good understanding of your impairment in order to put you forward for international classification. Wherever possible we will give you an indication of whether we think your impairment is sufficiently severe to be eligible for classification however the classification is managed completely independently by the IPC and we have no influence over the final decision although we will do our best to support you. The level of impairment required to compete is exceptionally high and sadly many potential athletes don’t make it beyond classification however there are a growing number of race clubs, indoor and outdoor races in which you can compete at home in the UK.
If you are successful in being classified by the IPC British Parasnowsport may offer you the opportunity to join the British Parasnowsport Pathway programme. The Pathway programme is entirely self-funded by the athlete and includes training opportunities at home and overseas in addition to limited access to some races. Places in the Pathway programme and indeed the development squad, European Cup team or World Cup team are limited and competition is extremely fierce so places will go to those athletes who demonstrate the most potential and the most commitment on and off snow.