09 June 2020

Fast track to Beijing: Hunt eyes Olympic glory in his biggest ever challenge

In the past few weeks Dan Hunt, GBS Performance Director, along with his team of performance staff and coaches have conducted the individual performance reviews,  with the aim of making sure each athlete has the best possible plan going forward to ensure that they can compete with the best athletes across the winter season and deliver Olympic and Paralympic success at 2022 and 2026.

Hunt is used to success. He was a national coach of British Cycling when they, the sport and the riders emerged in 2008 – again in Beijing – as a global force which grew into an Olympic phenomenon in subsequent games in London and Rio de Janeiro.

From what is described as the ‘Atlanta’ moment in Sochi where the GB team collected just one medal – a bronze by Jenny Jones in Slopestyle – GBS climbed up the medal table in PyeongChang in 2018 – and now in just 20 months, Hunt is looking for even more improvement in Beijing.

“PyeongChang was a success but it only came 14 months in post. Since 2017, as an organisation, we’ve gone through huge amounts of transformational change and this we hope will be reflected in the performances in 2022 and 2026”

“It feels a very different place than four years ago. Less siloed, more cooperation between disciplines and more athletes across more disciplines achieving international success. We are all working for team success while catering for the individual needs of the athletes.”

In the last three and a half years, GB Snowsport has come a long way – year-on-year the results have improved from the previous season. This season, despite being curtailed, GBS athletes finished with two Crystal Globe winners and more top ten World Cup finishes than ever before.

The attention to detail that Hunt’s sport science background demands – with the use of F1 engineers to look at aerodynamics – is a testimony to the seriousness with which GBS are pursuing the 50 per cent of Olympic – and 98 per cent of the Paralympic - medals up for grabs.

Dan Hunt said: “We are in a better position than ever to attack the medal table by getting more athletes in more disciplines onto the podium.”

“This is a tough journey. Elite sport is not for everyone. We make some tough decisions, but they will be in the best interest of securing success at World Championship and Olympics/ Paralympic Games.

"As an organisation, we are developing a winning mentality now and that is being recognised by other teams who are watching our development and realising that GB Snowsport is on the rise. Now we have a belief to work harder than ever before to ensure we demonstrate our newfound success on the biggest stage.”

The shining example of the commitment needed is shown by Crystal Globe winners Katie Ormerod and Owen Pick as well as James Woods (Woodsy) and Gus Kenworthy, and the prospects of the future in Charlotte Bankes, the snowboard cross World Championship silver medallist.

“What Katie has achieved this season, after 18 months of painstaking surgery and rehabilitation, is one of the most impressive examples of athlete resilience and overcoming adversity that I have seen in my career, equally it has been incredibly humbling watching the professionalism of Woodsy as he returns from injury - he's such an asset to the programme and it will be great to see him back in action this season”

Hunt is aware of GBS’s ambitious target of a top five nation by the time the Winter Games are held in 2030 and the tight budgets on which this dream must be built. “We have to stretch our funding. We have to make every penny count and our Chief Executive Vicky Gosling has been a tremendous help in that regard. The vision is only achievable if we keep hitting our targets and unlock future funding.”

“The WCP is funded to deliver success at Olympic and Paralympic Games, and my top priority has to be to ensure that we deliver sustainably, against performance targets set to us by UK Sport. That is crucial to the survivability of the WCP. Whilst GB Snowsport has increased activity at pathway level with Europa Cup Programmes, to assist athlete development, my main priority will always go to the WCP athletes who are demonstrably capable of delivering Olympic and Paralympic success at 2022 and beyond.”

Now with more athletes competing at World Cup level across multiple disciplines and even more on the European Cup circuit GB Snowsport is building plans for an academy to develop athletes quicker in an improved pathway programme.

Hunt said: “We are constantly evaluating how we can improve things for the future and we know the key to successfully delivering consistent results will be a thriving pathway programme and the development and identification of talent at a young age.”

We are currently conducting a feasibility plan to develop an alpine / multi discipline academy to help enhance our development. We know that is the direction we need to go in but right now everyone is getting geared up for a return to snow; we are looking at areas that need a bit more attention but the main focus is that everyone stays safe and healthy as we return to sport. With the experience from 2018 and the positive changes we have made, I am confident that by February 2022 we can beat any previous winter Olympic results.”

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