SCOTTISH SPORT COMMITTED TO BEING PART OF COVID-19 RECOVERY

02 March 2020

SCOTTISH SPORT COMMITTED TO BEING PART OF COVID-19 RECOVERY

Leading figures from across Scottish sport have met to discuss the continued impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the role the sport sector will play in the nation’s long-term recovery from the pandemic.

Members of the Scottish Governing Bodies Chief Executive Officers Forum were joined by Minister for Public Health and Sport, Mairi Gougeon, and Chief Executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, at the virtual meeting.

The SGB CEO Forum represents 35 sports including athletics, badminton, cycling, fencing, golf, gymnastics, netball, swimming, triathlon and volleyball. It was established to develop a greater collective approach across sports and to help shape a collaborative response to the pandemic.

Some of the challenges faced by Scottish sport, such as financial viability, access to facilities and SGB membership levels, were discussed at the meeting. The Forum expressed a firm commitment to using the power of sport and physical activity to assist in the recovery from COVID-19 and to help support the economy, health and wellbeing, education and social fabric of the nation.

Public Health and Sport Minister Mairi Gougeon said: “We know that being active is one of the best ways to improve or maintain our physical and mental wellbeing, and this has been particularly so during the pandemic. As we start to carefully ease lockdown restrictions while continuing to supress the virus, there is no doubt that sport will play a central role in Scotland’s recovery.

“Recognising the significant effect that the pandemic has had on the sport sector, the Scottish Government has provided a £55 million emergency funding package, allowing clubs to bridge the gap in revenue until spectators are able to return safely to sports events in larger numbers.

“Our continuing collaboration with the sector is vital as we work to tackle the issues facing sports clubs as a result of COVID-19. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our Sports Governing Bodies, who have worked tirelessly to ensure sport can continue to operate safely within the restrictions.”

Chair of the SGB CEO Forum, Vinny Bryson, said: “It was important to have the opportunity to speak with the Minister for Sport about the challenges facing the sector but also to outline how SGBs can be a part of the solution. For the Minister to listen to 35 Scottish Sports Governing Body CEOs and hear one collective voice is powerful and demonstrates our shared commitment to using the #PowerOfSport as part of the national recovery efforts of our nation.

“We are all keen to play our part in restarting and shaping the future of sport as we emerge from the COVID-19 restrictions over the next few months and today’s discussions will support this approach. All our Governing Bodies are keen to have the clubs and members they represent at the heart of the nation’s mental and physical recovery from this pandemic. For the nation to rebuild and thrive again, it must be an active one.”

Chief Executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, said: “It has been a year like no other for Scottish sport but the sector has shown remarkable resilience in how it has responded. This is the most difficult situation we have experienced but the sporting system, particularly SGBS, has done an exceptional job.

“We need to recover, rebuild and restart with confidence. I fully believe that we will do that, when the time is right, because we have a system that is committed to working together to overcome the challenges that lie ahead. There is a lot of hard work still to be done but we will get through this together.”

Today’s meeting comes just three months after the Scottish Government announced a £55million emergency funding package for spectator sports, to help them deal with the financial burden of lost ticket income.

Across the financial year, a total of £32.4million has been accelerated to local and national partners by sportscotland, helping protect up to 1,600 jobs across the sector, while delivery targets were also relaxed. The national agency has also created a £1.5million Scottish Governing Body (SGB) COVID-19 Recovery Support Fund, which is being delivered with National Lottery funding.

Scottish Government Covid Update

Following the First Ministers announcement this week, please find below further information to clarify the position re. the reopening of snowsports centres.

 

Scottish Government Update

 

“As of early January, additional restrictions were required to control the spread of the C-19 virus given the emergence of new strains of the virus that were more transmissible.

 

As you’re aware, the additional restrictions included the requirement for snowsports centres to close. This requirement is still in place i.e. snowsports centres are required to remain closed at present.

 

Restrictions are being reviewed at 3 weekly intervals with the next review being scheduled for mid-March. At that point, we are working towards providing clarity to snowsports centres regarding a potential date for their re-opening.

 

As you’ll appreciate, a number of uncertainties remain about the effect of even minor changes to restrictions on C-19 case numbers particularly given what we know about new variants and the impact of the vaccination programme. Consequently, any changes to restrictions – and indications of timelines for these – may be subject to change as they will be guided by the data and not dates.

 

I appreciate that these are challenging times and that this will come as unwelcome news. Please be assured that we continue our efforts to work towards the centres reopening at the earliest opportunity”.

 

Snowsport Scotland will continue to work with Scottish Government and sportscotland to ensure that snowsport centres are able to open as soon as possible.

 

We appreciate that centres, clubs and snowsports participants desperately want to get back to action (as do we!) and are hopeful that this opportunity will be possible in the coming weeks.

Feb Brexit Update for UK Coaches

Following the extended question around the post Brexit legality of coaches operating in Europe, Snowsport Scotland have undertaken the task of contacting the Embassies and Consulates of the below countries, to secure definitive clarity on permission to work as a coach in Europe and specifically to deliver competition training for club trainees and athletes and provide competition support.

We are delighted to confirm that Italy, Switzerland, Andorra, Sweden and Bulgaria have all now confirmed in writing that coaches, contracted and paid in the UK, are permitted to travel and deliver competitive coaching and competition support to their trainees and athletes without the requirement of any additional visas or paperwork.

The countries we are still awaiting confirmation from include, France, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Germany and Belgium and we will provide updates as soon as they are available.

We are committed to giving anyone the opportunity to embark on a career in snowsports, and we will endeavour to map out and share the various options open to UK snowsports members & professionals embarking on their chosen pathway as these pathways become clearer.

 

Local Scottish Snow Shots

Throughout the month of February, Scotland saw some fantastic snow fall throughout the country, from up in the mountains at Cairngorm right to the hills in the borders. With the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions in place and the mountain resorts still closed, it was a frustrating time for our snowsports community to not get up to the mountain slopes and enjoy the incredible conditions…

Nevertheless, this didn’t stop so many people from getting the skis and snowboards on and skiiing down the Pentland Hills, or trekking up the Campsie Fells or skiing through Speyside! It was awesome to see so much of our Snowsport community still finding a way to do what they love right on their doorstep!

Check out some of the amazing photos that were sent in to us by some of Snowsport Scotland members:

Hannah Kinnear, on Lomond Hills in Fife                 Scott McMorris, Pentland Hills Edinburgh

         

Freddie Horn, The Ochils

     

Andrew Cawley, Campsie Fells

              

World Junior and U23 Nordic Championships 2021 – Vuokkati, Finland

This season has been an interesting one with numerous challenges on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. For the athletes this has meant they have not had the opportunity to race this season.  This created a scenario where the biggest race of the season was up first, the world junior championships.

However, a small team of 3 athletes have  been able to train in Lillehammer, Norway since November with the coaching support of Snowsport Scotland and GB Snowsport. All 3 athletes; Hamish Wolfe, James Slimon and Gabriel Gledhill were selected by GB Snowsports to represent Great Britain at the 2021 World junior championships in Vuokatti, Finland.

We have to say Vuokatti did an extraordinary job organising the championships in the circumstances and in such short notice! They had 10 weeks to make it happen; from the border requirements that kept changing, testing (we had PCR results in under 18hrs), live streaming, TV production and social media, everything went smoothly. It shows what you can do with the right people and right sponsors.

Yes, it was different with virtual team captain meetings, team bubbles,separated dining, no opening/closing ceremony for athletes and no spectators. The content on Instagram from @POWFinland was fantastic and highlights the power of a partner with an important message to a broad audience, and the influence it can have.

All 3 athletes performed above their rankings and created new personal bests at this level. You can’t ask for much more than that! These are some of the best results at World juniors for over 5 years which is very exciting for the future of the sport.  Hopefully we can build on this and  have a bigger and stronger team for the 2022 championships.

 

Photo Credit: @tomimakipaa1 and @vuokattisport

BASS Seeding Statement – 19/02/21

The Home Nations and the TD Forum met on 18th Feb to conduct their scheduled review with regard BASS Seeding and TD assignment for the remainder of the 2020-21 on-snow season.

 

The review looked at the current and ongoing restrictions imposed by Governments at a national and inter-national level, including local and regional lockdowns and current travel restrictions; particularly noting the challenges these regulations impose for organisers and officials, as well as athletes and their supporters.  The following was decided:

 

  • The provision to accept results for BASS seeding from events in the UK Geographic area was withdrawn with immediate effect. TDs will not be assigned, nor results accepted from any event within UK for the remainder of the season.
  • The suspension of the assignment of TDs and the acceptance of results for BASS seeding from events held in Europe was extended until the end of the season.

 

This ends BASS sanctioned events for the 2020-21 snow season and thus the BASS List will be closed for the season with immediate effect. As there have been no BASS seeded races in the 2020-21 snow season it is intended to carry forward the closing BASS list from the end of the 2019-20 season as the start list for the 2021-22 snow season, subject to technical considerations. More details will follow in due course.

 

The Home Nations and the TD Forum will now focus on supporting the artificial ski slope events in UK across the summer should restrictions allow. Snowsport England, Scotland and Wales, will review the summer calendar in light of all relevant restrictions, ensuring that events are supported where travel and regional restrictions allow for fair and safe racing across the whole ski community; noting that time for athletes to train prior to the restart of racing is an important safety factor. The TD Forum will assign TDs and accept results for seeding in support of the Home Nations approved programme and will review the necessary rules, including those adopted for the 2020 summer season, to ensure safe, fair and compliant events prior to the start of the season.

 

Snowsport Scotland Elite Athlete Return to Training

 Over the past few weeks, Snowsport Scotland has been working with sportscotland Institute of Sport (SIS), Scottish Government, key partners, medical experts and UK Sport to agree an approach for the ‘Resumption of Performance Sport’ in Scotland to develop a Performance Sport ‘Return to Training’ plan. 

An exemption, subject to strict safety standards has been given to our performance teams, across all disciplines, and will allow them to continue with their training at targeted Scottish snowsport centres. These athletes are able to resume training under the exemption granted to professional and performance sport by the Scottish Government. An extensive plan and risk assessment has been carried out to allow the athletes to train safely. This process ensures that every possible precaution is taken to mitigate the potential spread of Coronavirus, both within and out-with the training environment. 

Our current arrangements will have our Alpine performance athletes training at Glencoe Mountain Resort, which has started this week and our Park and Pipe athletes at Bearsden Ski and Board Centre, which will commence over the coming weeks. 

We are continuing to work closely with sportscotland and SIS, in this multiple step process for ‘Return to Training’. The purpose of this guidance is to define a set of recommended minimum-practice guidelines for transition to training and competition for performance (Elite) athletes. It is anticipated that following this guidance will assist performance sport organisations to deliver a safe return to organised training for its athletes and staff. While initially only our Scottish performance athletes have been approved to train, we will continue to liaise with sportscotland on how we will build upon this. 

Snowsport Scotland CEO, Trafford Wilson said, “We are thankful to both the sportscotland Institute of Sport, Glencoe Mountain and Bearsden Ski and Board Centre, for assisting us in getting our performance athletes back to training and look forward to working through further steps that allow more athletes to train in Scotland in the near future’’ 

https://sportscotland.org.uk/media/6358/resumption-of-performance-sport-combined-version-final-241220.pdf 

GB SNOWSPORT ALPINE WORLD CHAMPSIONSHIPS SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT

GB Snowsport are pleased to announce the squad for the 2021 Alpine World Championships, which are taking place in Cortina, Italy.

The Championships, taking place from 7th to 21st February, will see the following GB Snowsport compete across the individual and team events:

Ladies Team

Charlie Guest – Slalom, Individual Parallel and Team Event

Alex Tilley – Slalom, Super G, Giant Slalom, Individual Parallel and Team Event

Sarah Woodward – Individual Parallel (Reserve for Team Event)

Men’s Team

Billy Major – Slalom, Individual Parallel and Team Event

Laurie Taylor – Slalom, Individual Parallel and Team Event

Charlie Raposo – Giant Slalom, Individual and Team Event

Dave Ryding – Slalom

*Team Event final selection to be made after individual parallel event.

Paul Trayner Alpine Director, GB Snowsport “It has been such a difficult year for everyone, however, we go into this year’s World Championships with one of the strongest teams ever, after a season of top results. A World Cup podium for Dave, 3 Europa Cup winners and with Alex skiing consistently in the top 30 at World Cup level we have so much to look forward to in the next couple of weeks. It’s also great to see the group of young skiers vying for selection, scoring Europa Cup points and winning National Championships, ensuring that GBR continues to push forward to the Olympics and beyond.”

FIS U23 CROSS COUNTRY WORLD SKI CHAMPIONSHIPS AND FIS NORDIC JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT

A four-strong team will represent GB Snowsport at the FIS U23 Cross-Country and FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championships in Finland.

The event, which is spilt between juniors (U20s) and U23s, runs from 8th – 14th February, will see GB Snowsport compete across Cross-Country and Nordic Combined.

Gabriel Gledhill – Cross Country WJC

James Slimon – Cross Country WJC

Hamish Wolfe – Cross Country U23

Mani Cooper – Nordic Combined WJC

Vicky Gosling, GB Snowsport Chief Executive, said: “The Nordic Junior World Championship is a fantastic event for developing stars, providing a unique opportunity to experience a multi-discipline event.

We are excited that GB Snowsport will have four athletes competing. All have trained hard to be in a position to represent us in Finland and this event will provide them with some vital competitive experience.”

Mani Cooper, Nordic Combined athlete “ I am really happy to be heading out to Finland to compete in the Junior World Championships as a GB Snowsport athlete in these amazingly hard times. I feel very privileged and I will do my best.”

BREXIT Update for Coach, Leader and Instructor Members

An update on Brexit for our UK Snowsports Coaches Leaders and Instructors

In order to clarify how UK citizens involved in the delivery of snowsports coaching leading and instructing may be impacted by the terms of the new Trade & Cooperation Agreement, BASI and the Home Nations Governing Bodies of Snowsports England, Snowsports Scotland and Snowsports Wales have teamed up to develop an aligned view on what the new agreement allows us, as UK Nationals, to do and what it doesn’t right now. In doing so, we have concluded that the biggest issues facing UK national snowsports members & professionals are:

The Right to Work:

Brexit and the terms of the new Trade & Cooperation Agreement mean that British Citizens’ right to work within the EU has gone, which means that you can no longer benefit from the same employment rights as other EU citizens under EU law. Anyone travelling from the UK to the EU for the purposes of work needs to abide by the terms in the Trade & Cooperation Agreement.

It does not make a difference if you change your qualifying Association or membership; if you’re British, it’s your passport that is the hurdle and it doesn’t matter if you try to join IASI, Swiss Snowsports, the CSIA, whoever – you’re British, and that’s the issue. If you are British, even if you hold a US award you can’t teach skiing in the USA without a work permit. An award issued by an EU qualifying association does not grant you working rights.

The agreement states that under normal business travel, meetings, events, conferences, short-term business trips to negotiate the terms of sale of goods between the UK & EU are all examples of travel which can be done visa-free, but in the absence of a clear statement clarifying that the delivery of coaching to your own club trainees or team athletes IS legal and can be done visa-free, we cannot assume that it is. Similarly we cannot assume that taking your own clients from the UK is legal. Travelling to deliver snowsport services to a client paying from the EU might be, bit it will be subject to local restrictions.

Recognition of Qualifications

Because Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications was left out of the Trade & Cooperation Agreement, a process must now be followed to re-establish a formal recognition between British and our EU counterparts now that the UK is no longer a fellow EU member state.

This does not mean that the authorities in EU member states will suddenly choose to not recognise UK qualifications; although they would be within their legal rights to do so, it would be difficult to justify such a reaction

We want everyone to know that we are working hard to gain mutual recognition and can confirm that we have now officially commenced negotiations with the snowsports governing bodies for France, Austria, Italy and Germany

We ask you all to be patient while we continue to work hard and map out the way forward. As we have stated previously, the clarity we are all seeking will likely take months, not weeks to establish. Only time will tell if there is a way to negotiate mutual recognition of qualifications further with the EU.

Insurance

Critically and directly resulting from the above, it is important to understand that if your coaching activity abroad is not legal, insurers can deny cover in the event of an claim being brought against you.

For this reason it is very important that any clubs or organisations hoping to travel to Europe to conduct coaching for their own trainees or team athletes, first contact their membership body to ascertain the latest position on the legality and insurance cover of their proposed activity.

In summary, although the freedom and ease to work within the EU has gone for British citizens, the Home Nations and BASI will continue to work together to gain greater clarity and find a way forward. One thing is for certain, we are committed to giving anyone the opportunity to embark on a career in snowsports, and we will endeavour to map out and share the various options open to UK snowsports members & professionals embarking on their chosen pathway as these pathways become clearer over time.