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Page last updated at 13:04 GMT, Friday, 10 December 2010

Unfunded skiers beg Britons to spend cash in UK


BBC Radio 2's Chris Evans tries some skiing - in Britain

By Ollie Williams

Recreational skiers should spend their cash in Britain to raise money for GB's top skiing stars, according to the sport's unfunded governing body.

British Ski and Snowboard (BSS) has been told it will receive no investment from funding body UK Sport to prepare for the Sochi 2014 Winter Games.

BSS chief executive Dave Edwards said those on ski trips abroad were "backing foreign ski teams without knowing it".

Edwards wants that money spent in the UK to boost Britain's Olympic hopes.

"Many British people, without knowing it, will be backing the Austrian, French or Italian ski teams, and I don't know how the British public feel about that," he told BBC Sport following Thursday's withdrawal of all UK Sport funding from his organisation.

UK Sport gave Britain's alpine skiers £372,000 and awarded a further £248,000 to snowboarding for the four years leading up to the last Winter Olympics, held in Vancouver in February 2010, but Team GB were unable to deliver any medals.

Changes in Olympic funding announced by UK Sport on Thursday
Women's bobsleigh - £2.4m, up £1.9m
Short-track skating - £2.8m, up £1.8m
Skeleton - £3.4m, up £1.3m
Curling - £2.1m, up £900,000
Figure skating - no funding, down from £496,000
Skiing - no funding, down from £372,000
Snowboarding - no funding, down from £248,000

In practice that funding went to just two athletes, skier Chemmy Alcott and snowboarder Zoe Gillings, but both have now seen all funding cut.

Governing body BSS, which only formed on the eve of the Vancouver Games when previous organisation Snowsport GB suffered financial collapse, is now looking to increase the cash it raises by alternative means.

"It would be great if [the public] understood that there are alternatives, that they could actually help to back the British teams," said Edwards.

"You could spend your money with the tourist tax in Austria, or with the French ski schools.

"But you could, rather than buying a certificate in French to say you are an intermediate skier, buy a similar badge or certificate from BSS.

"If 50% of British recreational skiers signed up to our £3 membership, we would have a very, very well-funded programme for our athletes."

Skier outside phone box in Britain
Recent wintry conditions have made Britain more appealing to skiers

Alcott posted Britain's best alpine skiing result at the 2010 Winter Games when she finished 11th in the women's super-combined event.

But the 28-year-old broke her leg during training in Canada last week and will now miss the entire 2011 season.

Gillings, 25, finished eighth in the Olympic snowboard cross event in February.

She was hampered at the Games by a knee injury which has kept her out of competition since, though she hopes to return in early 2011.

"I feel devastated for both her and Chemmy. Both of them, with their performances, deserve the country getting behind them and supporting them," said Edwards.

"I hope they both prove UK Sport wrong and, in all honesty, I think UK Sport would be delighted if they are on podiums at World Cup events and I'm knocking on their door saying: 'Where's the money?'"

Edwards concedes that there is now, at best, "an outside chance" of a British alpine skier winning a medal at the Sochi Olympics, and is instead hoping the inclusion of a new sport - slopestyle - in the 2014 Games will boost GB's medal hopes.

"If slopestyle gets included in the Sochi Games, which we expect will be announced in March or April, then currently we have the world number one," he said, referring to multiple X Games gold medallist Jenny Jones.

"I would hope, at that stage, UK Sport can find a mechanism to get behind her and provide the backing she needs to reach the podium."

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see also
Six 2012 sports handed cash boost
09 Dec 10 |  London 2012
Alcott breaks leg in Lake Louise
03 Dec 10 |  Winter Sports
A freestyle future?
03 Dec 10 |  Winter Sports
Winter sport funds 'unacceptable'
11 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
GB Olympic bosses to help skiers
05 Feb 10 |  Alpine skiing
British skiing hit by cash crisis
13 Aug 09 |  Winter Sports

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