Pathways into Winter Olympic Sport

By Caroline Heaney

Olympic Rings from the Sochi Olympic Village (Copyright Gary Anderson)

The British terrain isn’t exactly designed for participation in Winter Olympic sports yet Team GB will be taking a 56-strong squad to the Winter Olympics which open in Sochi next week, so how do British athletes come to be involved in these sports?

Paths into winter sports vary and often quite different to the more conventional routes seen in summer Olympic sports. Whilst most athletes have a background of junior participation, often having made their entry into the sport at a young age, in some Winter Olympic sports this is not the case. It is very common for athletes in these sports to start late having begun their sporting career in other sports. Athletics to bobsleigh has, for example, become a very common route into the sport.

Paths into winter sport can be influenced by factors such as:

  • Opportunity – e.g. do you live near a Winter sports facility?
  • Finance – e.g. can you afford skiing lessons?
  • Role models – e.g. are there role models that make you want to try a Winter Olympic sport?

I explore this more in the article Why would British Athletes Chose Winter Sports? in The Conversation.

2 thoughts on “Pathways into Winter Olympic Sport

  1. Nicholas McAtamney

    The small Team Ireland Sochi 2014 team seems to be exclusively made up of members of the diaspora. I’ve no problem with this – I think it’s important to send a team to these games to embrace and share the old Olympic message of sport, peace and friendship. It would be hard to know how an ‘ordinary’ person born, bred and living in Ireland could compete in many of these sports at this elite level – without moving country or becoming rich!


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