2022 Winter Olympics: Team GB commits to spending over £26m in UK as figure skating justifies investment


A sport that does not allow people to participate in Britain will face cash cuts when UK Sport looks at how it will spend £26m in winter sports funding later this year.

Team GB needed until the penultimate day of the Beijing Olympics to win their first medal, with Bruce Mowat taking the curling silver before Eve Muirhead became the Olympic champion for the first time on Sunday.

The total for two medals is three from the minimum team GB pre-game grade of three and seven, and since they’re from the same sport, there’s bound to be awkward talking when doing team reviews. The performance, which is understood to be scheduled for early March.

It will be meetings that determine which disciplines the UK’s largest sports funding body supports to win medals in Milan in four years, and the venue for the Winter Olympics next, but the awards will not be the only ones. concentration. .

“We will focus on investing in sport with an existing national presence,” said Sally Munday, chief executive of UK Sports.

“We know that many of our athletes and disciplines have started their journey in the UK. We want to harness this to inspire a more diverse group of young people to dream of success in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, while also playing our part in driving positive social change in all societies.”

What this effectively means is that sports like alpine skiing and snowboarding can only hope to get funded according to the number of current athletes who are real medal prospects for the upcoming games.

The UK’s core program will also be subject to special scrutiny. Previously, slip was one of the British team’s strengths, winning at least one medal at every Games this century, including three at Pyeongchang in 2014.

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But a British slider’s best result in Beijing was 15th for Matt Weston, despite the show having secured £6.43m in funding over the past four years. It is also hard to see how the skeleton, in which it is impossible to share in its native land other than the dry rails operating in Bath, could claim to have a “domestic imprint” of any kind, suggesting that it could be in line as much. The cuts are this summer, though UK Sport meanwhile insists it won’t be fully “reactive”.

However, most of the funding body’s speeches will be music to the ears of British figure skating, a body that received just £80,000 in funding at the last Olympics.

Despite these limitations, they managed three top-10 finishes, including ninth place for Cornelius Kirsten in the 1000m speed skating, the best performance by a British long-track speed skater since 1964.

Cornelius Kirsten finished ninth in the 1000m speed skating (Image: Reuters)

Kirsten, along with her partner Elijah Smeding, who also skated at the Great Britain Olympics, had to create a coffee venture to fund her skating career.

Speed ​​skating has received just £20,000 from UK Sport in the past four years and Kersten hopes she has shown her performance to increase that number.

“Sports need funding,” Christine told me after finishing three-tenths of a second on the podium in Beijing.

“I have been very fortunate this year and last, but the fact that the athletes have had to set up their own companies to fund their own trips shows that we need additional support. And I think if we can get additional support and run the program, that will attract more people as well.”

“[Funding] It just takes a lot of pressure on the athletes and gives us more room to focus on what we’re really doing, which is skateboarding, and that’s a difference that you can see very quickly over time.

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“This is the first year I have trained at this level, having received the support that I feel now from a team. If you compare what other people who have trained at this level for several years have gotten, and compare them to them, I am kind of turning a corner for the first time. Because I think if I had another year like this, it might get a lot closer.”

British Ice Skating believes the facilities are ready. The availability of ice rinks throughout the UK far exceeds the facilities for curling or skating slopes. What they need is the ability to ensure that the thousands of people who ski recreationally each year, especially young adults, also have the opportunity to try speed or snowboarding.

“It is up to us to advance as an institution as well, but we need the support of stakeholders and investors,” Lee told me.

“We need to improve on that course, and show the new people how to go from that to having chances to win medals at the Olympics.

“I think we’ve been successful in some of our sports over the years, but I think if we want to be sustainable and really take advantage of this opportunity that UK Sport provides, we need to build more structures for the players that come into our sports and members.”

Analysis: The skating revolution takes time and money

In the end, it all comes down to the brass rivets. Many would expect to see the skeletal budget, the largest of all winter sports except the all-inclusive “skiing and snowboarding”, being threatened in the review process, but there are plenty of mouths, including snowboarding, that they think they are They deserve to take advantage of these discounts

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One good source suggested that the kind of program British snowboarders were talking about could cost £3 million over the four years, and another said it was closer to £5 million.

Neither of those numbers seem likely in the near future, as sports like Skeleton are likely to get a 12-month residency to implement to show they can turn things around.

There is also a lot of scar tissue in skating. Just four years ago the short track speed skating program was canceled entirely, with the exception of Elise Christie’s “medal support program”, who withdrew due to injury before she could reach Beijing. Some of those who lost their jobs in the cuts left the sport, others stayed but their roles were drastically reduced. This leaves an imprint and fuels pessimism about what the future might hold.

However, the eyeball test favors skiing; It’s hard, standing by the two kilometer track at the £1 billion National Ski Centre, to see what value is there in funding British athletes to compete here, when there is no realistic prospect of an eight-year watch at home going beyond carrying a tray Tea on the stairs.

A skate revolution? Even those into the sport know that it will be an evolution rather than something surprising, and that it will take time, but perhaps Kirsten and her pals have ignited a spark that can turn into an oven, albeit somewhat cold.


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