If you’re scouring through the results pages of various international federations like I am (and I know you all do), you won’t be able to miss the number of winter sports that are really getting into action at this time of year. Multiple skiing meetings, World Cup events in bob, skeleton, luge and speed skating and several figure skating tournaments.
Unfortunately, you really do have to go hunting if you want to know how our British competitors are doing. There’s the odd exception when Shelley Rudman wins a World Cup old on the skeleton run and top GB skiier Chemmy Alcott comes back from injury, but there’s precious little more coverage from the mainstream sites aside from Eurosport – who show televised coverage of biathlon and others, so they would focus on it.
There’s little to report, of course. Adam Rosen, Britain’s top luger, is ranked 30th in the world and regularly just manages to scrape into final events in the Viessmann World Cup. Aside from a select few like David Ryding, who won a slalom event in Davos last week, British skiiers have no chance of getting anywhere near a regular medal. I don’t even know who represents us in freestyle events like aerials, moguls and the new ski half-pipe. The media, then, might just be confirming something most of us are already thinking – who cares?
The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are coming quicker than you think, but you can be sure there won’t be the euphoria and months of endless advertising that we saw for the London 2012 Summer Olympics. Taking out the fact that, yes, this event won’t be in the UK, we’re just not expected to get anywhere on the snowslopes or the ice rink. And why should we? Great Britain reached an amazing high this summer, coming third in the medal table with exceptional performances in cycling, rowing, sailing and even athletics. Cycling, in particular, is the jewel in our crown, that’s what we concentrate on and it’s the sport we can bank on getting medals. For the likes of Austria and Switzerland, they can put all their eggs in the alpine basket. Why wouldn’t they with such facilities like the Alps on their doorstep. Similarly, Canada’s national sport is ice hockey and they don’t even dominate. Let’s just do what we do best.
…not that there’s no point in going to Sochi all pessimistically. A blog post on Olympic news site “Inside the Games” comments on the state of British figure skating, but it rightfully reminds us that Jenna McCorkell has just won a tenth British title and she regularly wins events that she enters. It’s just becoming fairly clear that those events may not exactly be the cream of the crop. The aforementioned Shelley Rudman is coming back into form, closely followed by the next generation of skeleton, including Lizzy Yarnold. Elise Christie is the world’s best at 1000m speed skating and, had she not had a mistake last week, would’ve won a second consecutive gold medal at the World Cup. Britain’s players may not make up the best of the rosters in the Elite Ice Hockey League but don’t count out their contribution should they qualify for the main event.
How different it is that, instead of gunning for the top of the table, we might be content with just one gold. I’d just be happy with one “any” medal and the chance to watch some top sport on TV again.