Don't forget Sochi!
Following on from London 2012, Rio should not be the sole focus for the Olympic legacy as Emma Bird discovered...
By Emma Bird
Last Updated: 09/10/12 11:47am
After witnessing the success of Team GB in London over the summer, it is not only budding athletes, swimmers and cyclists who will be looking ahead to the next big sporting extravaganza.
What many people fail to remember is that before the Brazilian bundle of sport in 2016, comes the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
With significantly less funding, media coverage and all-round awareness than their summer equivalent, winter sport is often overlooked and not fully understood.
Yet, Britain, although not famous for their winter Olympics success, has many talented hopefuls aiming to make themselves known in two years' time.
Just as Jessica Ennis, Ellie Simmonds and Sir Chris Hoy made sport a spectacular, appetising pastime across the venues in London, there are many snow sport athletes hoping to do the same for winter Olympic sport in Britain.
Jenny Jones is one of the most well-known British snowboarders who is aiming for the Games in Sochi, which begin in less than 500 days.
The 31-year-old, who specialises in Slopestyle boarding, is an X Games - an annual action sports event - gold medallist, and is looking to achieve something special in 2014.
With Olympic qualification starting in January, Jones, who is renowned for mastering extremely technical spins, hopes more people become inspired and want to get involved within the snow sport field.
She told Sky Skysports: " "It is relatively easy to get into winter sports - compared to playing football it isn't but compared to how difficult it was to go on a skiing holiday years ago then yes it is accessible.
"You have the snow domes across the UK, as well as various dry slopes to just have a little taster of it. Flights out to Europe are also definitely getting cheaper."
The bubbly boarder is also keen to emphasise how the facilities for freestyle snowboarding in Britain have improved in recent times.
With wall-to-wall coverage of the hoped-for Olympic legacy after London, very little was said about trying to encourage people to take up sports in the snow.
Yet one main issue which arises is the notion of how expensive these sports can be, hence putting people off the idea. Jones however, highlights how this is not always the case.
"I don't come from a wealthy background at all; I just saved up a few hundred pounds, and went and worked as a chalet maid when I was about 17-years-old," she added.
With the Sochi Games now a real target on Jones' horizon, the promising boarder is looking forward to a new and exciting challenge.
She continued: "The winter Olympics were never an opportunity for me before, it has only recently been announced that my discipline, Slopestyle, was going to be in the Games, so my goals changed slightly. They have always been other things, such as the X Games, so then this opportunity came about and I was like 'wow!'
"It's a different kind of goal and I would like to give it a go."
Another Olympic hopeful aiming for Sochi is Halfpipe skier, James Webb.
The 23-year-old from Berkshire is optimistic that following on from the London Games, more people across the country will be encouraged to get into sport.
However, he is fully aware of the difficulty in attracting people to winter sport, saying: "I guess the winter Olympics is just not as famous, and it is not something that Britain has ever done as well in, so it is not really a focus for British people.
"After such a successful year in 2012, our athletes did amazingly and came third in the medal table so everyone is looking to Rio to make it better."
One aspect Webb mentions too though is the issue of funding.
"I understand that a big part of putting money into a sport is getting something out of it, so they want to get results," he added.
"But I think it is difficult, especially with a country like ours, with no mountains or snow, to get that good, unless we do have a bit of funding as we need to be away from home so much and that's so expensive to do."
However, recently it appears that progress has been made within the GB set-up, which comprises A and B teams as well as the development squad.
Webb said: "I used to be in the A team but I stopped doing it for a few years so now I am coming back up through so I am in development again. But there are now coaches in place and a bit more money going into it and we've done some trips together."
With small yet significant improvements within the training and coaching areas of these sports, Sochi could prove to be another Games in which GB put their name on the sporting map.
Although Webb knows the competition will be tough to reach Sochi, the next couple of years are also about heightening the awareness surrounding winter sport, including the media beginning to focus on such events more.
He added: "I'd like to think more media coverage would help more people take up the sports, it is not shown on TV anywhere near as much as athletics and it is not easy to find the coverage of it so you often have to stream it on the internet."
Despite the Olympic Games leaving London, it is vital to remember that before Brazil hosts the sporting ball, Russia will be presenting sporting talent of a different kind to the world.
Let's just hope the GB athletes on skis and snowboards, who train just as hard as their summer counterparts, get the recognition and attention they too have earned.
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