Operation 2030 - GB Snowsport CEO Vicky Gosling outlines her vision for the future
Vicky Gosling sits down with Pete Sharland to discuss how she plans to take British snow sports to the pinnacle of the world in just over a decade.
If you build it, they will come.
That isn’t the first film phrase to be beaten to death by the corporate world, and it won’t be the last, but it’s hard to have any other feeling after sitting down for an illuminating conversation with GB Snowsport CEO Vicky Gosling ahead of the new season.
Gosling is just over 18 months into her role, coming from the Invictus Games, and her mantra has been clear from the outset: build on a hugely promising games in Pyeongchang in 2018 and use that momentum to turn Great Britain into a top 5 winter sports nation by 2030.
That’s obviously easier said than done, swathes of the country is lucky to see snow on a year by year basis, and in the winter football and rugby dominate the TV screens.
GB Snowsport CEO Vicky GoslingEurosport
But Gosling isn’t discouraged, in fact she believes GB Snowsport is in a “fantastic place” after a record-breaking twelve months and there’s a simple reason for it.
“In terms of the coaches that we’ve put into place, we’ve literally got the best in the world across different disciplines, we’ve got real strength in depth there,” se explains.
“I can now see the platform that is being put in place and all the hard work that [Performance Director] Dan Hunt and the performance team have put in place we will start reaping the benefits even more so.”
By assembling an all-star cast of coaching and support staff, led by Hunt who is formerly of the Premier League, Team Sky and British Cycling, GB Snowsport has put in place the structure required to be a contender.
A country is limited in terms of the athletes they can choose from, although Gosling is keen to point out a number of hugely promising young athletes with dual citizenship who are choosing to represent Britain, but you can control the quality of coaches, so why not make the first initial investment there?
Gosling repeatedly refers to the six pillar approach that she has looked to implement since taking over - Athletes, Performance, Culture, Technology, Partnerships and Engagement, the core principles driving GB Snowsport and that investment in the coaching staff reflects that.
“The six pillar approach I talk about, it’s about getting those pillars right whether it’s innovation, performance, culture, partnerships etc they’re all key to us,” Gosling explains.
“Funding is a big thing, if we get more funding we know the world is our oyster but innovation will play a big part but also just the combination of achieving.
“We can’t just achieve in one of these disciplines, we have to achieve across them all really and that will then help us get the right level to become a top 5 nation by 2030 and that’s both para-Olympic and Olympic. That’s the blueprint really.”
The results over the last year or so speak for themselves, amongst others there is Charlie Guest taking a Europa Cup victory at the end of last season, Andrew Musgrave’s strong showing at the cross-country skiing world championships earlier in the year and James Woods is now a Slopestyle world champion.
But their performances, as impressive as they are, won’t be enough to see GB Snowsport reach their target in 2030, so how do they take the next step?
It’s a two-fold attack for Gosling, the first is building on what they have already done when it comes to performance and building an elite programme.
“I think what we have to do [to take the next steps] is what we have been doing realistically since Dan came in and that is ensuring we have world-class coaches in place, we have the right strength and conditioning set-up, the right nutritionists, everything we’re putting in place in terms of performance has to be the best of the best," she continues.
“And in terms of innovation we’re pretty good at that so how do we support our athletes, make sure we’re giving them the best coaching structure and giving them the right all-around care so what happens when they don’t want to ski anymore? What does their lifestyle coaching look like?
“Are we giving them the rounded approach so they can perform to the best of their ability within the sport and then outside of the sport.”
The second step is inspiring the next generation and whether you like it or not a lot of that work must be done on social media.
Woods is the perfect example of that, a world champion skier who travels the world and documents every part of it for his vlog. Gosling believes he is the benchmark if GB Snowsport’s athletes are to enjoy the sort of growth cyclists saw a decade or so ago.
“How do we make sure we are targeting each of these athletes to get out there and in what format are we going to do that? Social media will have a large part to play on that," she says.
“I think just using it the right way and making sure we are telling the right stories.
" Some people are brilliant at it, like Woodsy, so how do we educate our other athletes to do it the Woodsy way, that sets the bar for us and when you do that it way it gets eyeballs on it. "
“It’s a great opportunity for us to really explore how do we target all the different audiences out there.”
One athlete who hasn’t been afraid to use social media to call out the evils in his own sport has been Musgrave. Taking the lead from his coach Jostein Vinjerui Musgrave, he was vocal in his disgust after the doping revelations at the world championships at Seefeld and Gosling believes that he can be a real trailblazer both as an athlete and an advocate for fair play within sport.
“I think it’s important, really important [calling out doping], it absolutely ruins the sport.” Gosling says when Musgrave’s criticisms are raised.
“Things like that ruin the sport and why shouldn’t he? There’s a time and a place and how you do it but he should be seen to be saying this is totally inappropriate.
" It’s not fair to individuals like him and others, I think he felt very betrayed, it’s not great when you see people you’ve been training with and raced against have done that. "
“We don’t want that in our sport, it just ruins it for everybody. The more people to say I’m not doing that the better.”
And under the tutelage of Vinjerui and fellow cross-country coach Hans Kristian Stadheim Musgrave has flourished and is the perfect example of the message Gosling is trying to get across.
He hasn’t had the traditional path to where he is now but he works harder than anyone and is coming into this season on the cusp of something special.
“He’s a legend,” Gosling says with a huge smile.
“He’s phenomenal, he’s a machine. When you see what it takes to do what he does, and Andy [Young] and James [Clugnet], when you see what they’re doing it’s incredible. And he’s gone to a different level, it’s helped having Hans and Jostein in place.”
Musgrave had the raw talent and the work ethic, that’s been harnessed by the incredible coaching staff and now he has the potential to push on and become a household name.
The infrastructure has been put in place for GB Snowsport as a whole thanks to the work for Gosling and her team and now begins what they hope will be the cycle of success.
If their athletes can bring more success both on and off the slopes then that can lead to more eyeballs on their sports. More eyeballs will lead to increased participation and funding. It’s quickly easy to see how they envisage that snowballing in the lead-up to the 2030 games.
There’s a long way to go but something impressive is being built, now we will wait to see who will come, who will stand up and take the opportunity that is being put in place.