Former cycling coach appointed to key role in shaping snow sports medal hopes

Former cycling coach appointed to key role in shaping snow sports medal hopes

11 October 2016 / 20:30

British skiers and snowboarders are ready to make a big breakthrough, according to the new appointment charged with delivering medal success.

billymorganslopestylefinalFormer British Cycling coach Dan Hunt will join British Ski and Snowboard next month as performance director, following three years as head of elite performance at the Premier League.

Hunt coached rower turned cyclist Rebecca Romero to Olympic gold in 2008 and guided the men’s team pursuit squad to their famous victory at London 2012.

And he sees plenty of similarities between Britain’s emerging snowsports talent - particularly in freestyle skiing and snowboarding - and his old job.

“I think the potential is massive, there’s a huge amount of enthusiasm and momentum. The organisation has real intent and it really feels like cycling back in the late 1990s,” said Hunt.

“A few green shoots of success, a breakthrough medal and investment comes along and is, hopefully, followed by more medals.

“I think we can go from strength to strength in a short period of time but we need to remember that it took British Cycling 12 to 16 years to get where they are now.

“I learned a lot from working with Sir Dave Brailsford, who is the best in the business. I started working for him in 2005 and grew up under him. He has moulded my philosophies and values and taught me about empathy, humility and making strong decisions.

“He empowered his coaches and you were expected to make difficult objective decisions.”

danhuntGettyImages-149766661Hunt, pictured above, will be responsible for performances across a range of disciplines, including alpine, cross-country, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, ski jumping, speed skiing and telemark.

But his immediate focus will be on maximising medal potential at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, where Britain’s self-styled Fridge Kids are rightly looking ahead with confidence.

Snowboarder Jenny Jones’s slopestyle bronze in Sochi, a first British Winter Olympic medal on snow, broke new boundaries and established new expectations.

Billy Morgan, James Woods, Katie Summerhayes, Katie Ormerod and Jamie Nicholls are all now World Cup podium regulars and boast an average age of 22.

Youth Olympic gold medallist Madi Rowlands is only 16 and slopestyle skier Isabel Atkin, one of last year’s most consistent World Cup performers, is just 18.

However, Hunt believes there is also potential in other snow disciplines, with his background in endurance sport making cross-country skiing another target to focus on.

Last year Andrew Young became the first British nordic athlete to achieve a World Cup podium with success in a freestyle sprint race, while team-mate Andrew Musgrave won the prestigious Norwegian national title in 2014.

“I know the park and pipe program and the work they are doing. They’ve got world class coaches and the programme I’m walking into is very well managed and coached,” added Hunt. 

“The goal is to go in to add value and make an impact and drive it forward to continued success but we are also looking to become podium competitive in events that we haven’t been successful in before.

“Each of the snow sport disciplines is almost a sport in itself and we have to maximise medal opportunities across them all.

“PyeongChang is an immediate target but we have to think longer-term too. We have disciplines that may not be podium competitive until the 2022 Games in Beijing or beyond. We have to make these disciplines investable. We have to kick start these programmes and demonstrate we are a viable investment.”

Sportsbeat 2016