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GET INVOLVED: How to get into Winter Sports in the UK

February 27, 2014 16:43 pm

Following the success of Team GB at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games which saw us win our best medal haul since the 1924 Chamonix Games, we have put together a one stop guide to each of the Winter Olympic sports and how you can get involved.

Alpine Skiing:

Alpine Skiing - Team Gb - Sochi 2014

Summary: Alpine skiing involves all skiing events which occur on a downhill course and do not involve ramps or bumps. The Olympic alpine competition consists of ten events: five for women and five for men. The rules are the same for all, but the courses differ. 

Find out more about Alpine Skiing and check out the Team GB Sochi 2014 Athletes.

There are a number of ways you can get involved. Firstly, there is a network of both outdoor and indoor ski slopes and centres around the UK. Check out www.snowsportscotland.org, www.snowsportengland.org.uk and www.snowsportwales.net

Your home nation will also be able to advise you on local clubs, or you may like to look at www.barsc.net for details of more alpine clubs.

For the elite skiers out there you should have a look at the British Ski & Snowboard website to find out more information about the sport of alpine skiing and how to join

Lastly, check out the GO SKI GO BOARD campaign, which Snowsport England are running, offering all-inclusive skiing sessions at affordable prices.

 

Biathlon:

Olympic Biathlon - Team GB - Sochi 2014

Summary: The sport of Biathlon is compromised of two main elements; cross country skiing and rifle shooting. Competitors must ski across a range of gruelling distances (some events can be up to 20km) whilst then having to control their heart rate and breathing rate during the shooting element of the competition.

Click here to find out more about biathlon and make sure you check out the Team GB Sochi 2014 athletes.

The National Governing Body for Biathlon is the British Biathlon Union (BBU), which provides a comprehensive guide as to how to get involved in the sport.

In the UK there are currently four clubs that provide biathlon facilities, and therefore opportunities to start participating in the sport. These are; Cairngorm Biathlon and Nordic Ski Club, Wessex Biathlon and Nordic Ski ClubBudleigh Farm Target Shooting Club and East Grange Biathlon Centre.

See also in this article cross country skiing.

 

Bobsleigh:

Team GB Bobsleigh - Sochi 2014

Summary: Bobsleigh is a sport in which athletes push hard and then drive the bobsleigh down an ice track that is also used for skeleton and luge competitions.

See our website for more information on bobsleigh, as well as information on our bobsleigh athletes that competed at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

British Bobsleigh is the sport’s National Governing Body (NGB) who are based at the University of Bath; home to the only small-part push track in the UK. The NGB offers a membership package similar to that of skeleton, which enables you eligibility to compete at the British Championships. They also give information to those who think they can be the next Team GBB athlete. Make sure you also check out their Try it page, where you can find more information on how to get into bobsleigh.

 

Cross Country Skiing:

Olympic Cross Country Skiing

Summary: Cross country skiing is known as the marathon of the Winter Olympics, due to its intensely demanding nature.

Find out more about cross country skiing, and check of the Team GB Sochi 2014 Athletes.

Snowsport England provide a great guide about how to get involved in Cross Country skiing in the UK.  Unfortunately the lack of snow in England makes participation that much more difficult. As such, typically British athletes can get around this by roller-skating in the summer months to replicate the movements of that on the snow. GO SKI GO BOARD provide roller skating lessons, which allow individuals to learn the basics behind cross country skiing.

Alternatively have a look at Snowsports England ski slope finder for more opportunities to participate on dry runs found all over the UK.

 

Curling:

Team GB Curling Sochi 2014

Summary: Curling is a sport where players slide stones across a sheet of ice towards a target area known as a rink. More information can be found on the Team GB website. The Team GB curlers performed fantastically at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, claiming a silver and bronze medal between them. Make sure to look over their profiles on our website.

The National Governing Body of curling is the Royal Caledonian club; based in Scotland, who provide information on their website about how to get into curling, from the basic rules to competitions, beginners classes and summer camps.

www.trycurling.com is another useful site that provides information as to how to get involved with curling.

Curling is largely a Scottish affair, and as such opportunities within England, Ireland and Wales are somewhat more limited. However, for more information on curling outside of Scotland, check out the websites of British curlingEngland Tunbridge Wells CurlingWelsh Curling Association and the Irish Curling Association.

 

Figure Skating:

Olympic Figure Skating

Summary: Figure skating made its Olympic debut at the London 1908 Summer Games and appeared later at the Antwerp 1920 Games.

Find out more about Figure skating on our website, where you can also check out the figure skaters that competed at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

The National Ice Skating Association (NISA) is the National Governing Body of the sport. Skate UK, their flagship campaign, gives lots of information on how you can get involved in Figure skating. You can also find your nearest ice rink on their website, as well as on the SK8 Scotland and Skate NI websites.

 

Freestyle Skiing:

Freestyle Skiing

Summary: Freestyle skiing is otherwise known as the “new school” Olympic discipline, which encompasses the events of aerials, moguls, ski cross and the slopestyle (which made its Olympic debut at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics). To find out more about these fascinating events, visit the Team GB website, or alternatively visit our Sochi 2014 Athletes page, where you can check out the British Freestyle competitors.

Due to its increased popularity, it is becoming easier to get involved in freestyle skiing in the UK. To find a dry slope near you, make sure to check out the Snowsport EnglandSnowsport Wales and Snowsport Scotland pages. If you are living in Northern Ireland, check out the Ski Club of Northern Ireland Facebook page for more information.

GO SKI GO BOARD is a national participation campaign which offers all-inclusive skiing sessions for both beginners and advanced at affordable prices. This is a great way to get a taste for what Freestyle Skiing is about. It is also worth visiting the Snowsport England website as they provide a comprehensive guide as to how you can get into Freestyle Skiinghow to start competing, and more information as to what freestyle skiing is about.

For the more elite, Team BSS (British Ski and Snowboard) is the National Governing Body of both skiing and snowboarding. Make sure to check out what they have to offer.

 

Ice Hockey:

Olympic Ice Hockey

Summary: Ice hockey is a full-contact sport, requiring high levels of strength, agility, speed and precision; making it arguably one of the most popular events at the Olympic Games.

Team GB won gold in Ice Hockey at the Chamonix Games in 1924; the first ever Olympic Winter Games. Find out more about the sport by visiting the Team GB website.

If you are wanting to get involved in the sport, The English Ice Hockey Association provide a comprehensive list of clubs all around the UK through its club index; a similar resource that can be found on the Scottish Ice Hockey Website.

There are also opportunities around all nations of the UK to get involved/spectate your local Elite League. Click here for more information on this.

 

Luge:

Olympic Luge

Summary: Similarly to skeleton, luge is a sport in which competitors throw themselves feet-first down an ice track, negotiating extreme G-forces and reaching speeds of up to 90mph. Visit the Team GB website for more information.

How to get into Luge:

The Chill Factor-e in Manchester now offers a dedicated Luge facility where individuals can gain a taste for the event on the 60m long track.

The British Luge Association is the National Governing Body for the sport in the UK, with the International Luge Federation being the website to visit for the more elite, international competitors.

However apart from this, opportunities to participate in Luge within the UK are very limited. AJ Rosen, Britain's only Olympic luger of recent times was born and trains in the United States.

 

Nordic Combined:

(See Ski Jumping and Cross Country)

Short Track Speed Skating:

Team GB Short Track Speed Skating - Sochi 2014

Summary: The combination of speed and potential spills makes this arguably one of the most thrilling of all Olympic Winter sports. It is one of the few events where competitors race directly against each other rather than against the clock.

Check out the Team GB website for more information, as well as our short-track athlete biographies that competed in Sochi.

GB Short Track is the sport’s National Governing Body (NGB). You can find lots of information on their website regarding where you can learn to skatesports clubs in Great Britain and how to get in contact with the NGB.

Make sure to also find out where your nearest ice rink is by visiting the NISA website, SK8 Scotland and Skate NI websites.

 

Skeleton:

Lizzy Yarnold Skeleton Sochi 2014

Summary: Since skeleton became an official Olympic sport in 2002, Team GB have won medals in every Olympics since. The sport involves throwing yourself down an ice track head first, with your chin just centimetres from the ice and reaching speeds of up to 90mph.

Check out our website for more information.

At the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Lizzy Yarnold won gold in the women’s skeleton, following on her landlord Amy Williams’ gold medal success in the same event at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Make sure you check out our athlete bios on the Team GB website.

British Skeleton is the sport’s National Governing Body (NGB) in the UK. They provide lots of useful information on their website regarding what skeleton involves, how you can get involved in skeleton, and contact details of the NGB. They also provide a membership package that gives members the eligibility to compete at the British Championships.

Alternatively, British Skeleton run various talent ID days for those who think they have what it takes to be a skeleton athlete. You can also register your interest via the UK Sport Power2Podium programme. Click here for more information.

There is actually only one small-part skeleton track in the UK (at the University of Bath) where athletes can practice just the push phase of the event, however despite this, our impressive history in the sport would suggest this does not hinder us.

 

Ski Jumping (European based):

Olympic Ski Jumping

Summary: Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards put British Ski Jumping on the map when he competed at the Calgary 1980 Olympic Winter Games. Despite coming in last place, he showed true spirit and determination; attracting large crowds and bringing extra interest to the sport.

Ski jumping is fairly self-explanatory – competitors throw themselves down a steep ramp and through the air, with the competitor who travels the furthest winning the gold medal. For a more comprehensive breakdown of Ski Jumping, please visit the Team GB Website.

Due to its extreme nature, there are unfortunately few opportunities to participate in Ski Jumping in the UK, so travelling into Europe would be a better idea; where the sport is more heavily populated. However you should speak to a regional development officer to see what help is available.

 

Snowboarding:

Jenny Jones Snowboarding Team GB Sochi 2014

Summary: Originally used as a form of transport, some now describe snowboarding as “surfing on snow” – a sport that combines elements of skiing, skateboarding and surfing. Check out our website for more information, as well as our Sochi Team GB competitors.

To find a dry slope near you, make sure to visit the Snowsport EnglandSnowsport Wales and Snowsport Scotland pages.

GO SKI GO BOARD is a national participation campaign which offers all inclusive ski and snowboard sessions for both beginners and advanced at affordable prices. This is a great way to get a taste for what snowboarding is about. It is also worth visiting the Snowsport England website as they provide a comprehensive guide as to how you can get into Snowboarding and start competing, as well as provide more information as to what snowboarding is really about, and the different disciplines that it involves.

For the more elite, Team BSS (British Ski and Snowboard) is the National Governing Body of both skiing and snowboarding. Make sure to check out what they have to offer.

Please also see descriptions for Alpine Skiing and Freestyle Skiing.