With one year to go until the Beijing Winter Olympics, it’s safe to say we’re getting pretty hyped. We caught up with GB Snowsport athletes Will Feneley and Andrew Musgrave, and head coach Pat Sharples, to find out how they’re feeling as the 365-day countdown begins.

Will Feneley, GB Snowsport Freestyle Moguls Athlete

Credit: Marc Amann

How are you feeling with 1 year to go?


It seems a long way away, but the year will go quick. Qualifications for the games has already started, so the focus is on putting down performances this season, and then getting ready and prepped for the next season. I’m trying to stay confident and working hard to get the best out of the year.


How do you keep motivated in the short term?


I have short term goals that I’m striving for, which are separate to the Winter Olympics. The focus is to accomplish these goals. We’re lucky to be able to be skiing and competing at the moment, so I’m making the most of every moment, and having fun skiing as well. It can be difficult to be motivated all the time, and especially this year with new obstacles to overcome, But I think it’s important to recognise when I’m feeling less motivated, and use it as a challenge to motivate myself in some way. 


What is the toughest part of your training schedule?


At the moment, it’s definitely all the extra measures that are making travel more stressful. We’re not always sure if we’re able to go somewhere or what we’ll be able to do. It can be uncomfortable but it’s something we have to do at the moment, to ensure Covid rules are being followed and that we stay as safe as possible. Outside of the current situation, the hardest part is constantly coming and going. I don’t really have a permanent base, and home (in the U.K.) has no mountains and not really any snow, so I use it as time away from skiing, but not somewhere that I can spend much time each year. 


What is your favourite part of training?


The best feeling is when you accomplish something you were struggling with, whether that be a new trick, or a finals or a podium. It’s definitely a big rush when you succeed at something you’ve been working towards for a long time. I also just love the fact that I’m able to travel all over the world to ski, see so many places, and be around really talented athletes. With training, I love being out in the mountains, after a fresh dump, on a sunny day, in some powder bumps, dicing and slicing. 


Do you listen to music when you train?


I tried listening to music for the first time, during a competition about five years ago. I crashed on the first jump, and from then on have decided that music while skiing is not for me. I know a lot of people that do use music and it seems to work for them.


How are you preparing mentally for competition day?


My mind can easily run into all sorts of scenarios for how a competition might pan out. What could be, what might go wrong, will I do my best? It’s important for me to try and clear me mind, relax, and remind myself that it’s just skiing, and by worrying and stressing, I’m just making it less enjoyable for myself. If I concentrate on the fact that I’m getting ski, then at the end of the day, it’s just another day skiing, and what will be will be. I’m more likely to ski my best, if my mind isn’t stressing about possibility A through Z.


Are there any big milestones that you are working towards between now and the games?


We haven’t had too many competitions this year. One of my main goals this year was to make finals in a World Cup. I managed this at the last event, so now the next milestone is to consolidate that, carry on putting down good performances, and carry the progression on into the next season. I’m hoping that I can put down a great performance at the World Championships which will now be held in Kazakhstan at the beginning of March.


What do you do to unwind at the end of a long training day?


After a really long training day, it’s a great feeling getting off all of your gear, and getting into a nice warm shower. I’m a big fan of long showers. I also like to chill out with my teammates, just chatting or playing some kind of games. I’m also studying for a degree in mathematics, so if I’ve had a bad day training, then focussing on something else like my maths, takes my mind off whatever I had done during the day. Overall, to relax, I just like to chill out as much as possible, not put too much energy into anything, other than a great dinner to finish off the day!

Credit: Marc Amann

Pat Sharples, GB Snowsport Head Coach

How are the GB Snowsport team shaping up with 1 year to go until the Olympic Winter Games 2022?


I feel all the different teams from all the different disciplines are doing incredibly well considering the challenges they've faced over the last year. There's obviously been many of the major competitions including Olympic qualifying events cancelled and a lot of on snow training missed due to Covid. But everyone is just getting on with it and preparing for Beijing 2022  the best we can. 


When does the training start to ramp up in terms of hours and intensity in the lead up to the Games?


It never really stops to be honest as all our athletes have their own personal performance goals and targets. At the moment we're in the middle of Olympic qualification and that's been the main focus. But as mentioned before, there's many events getting cancelled so our athletes are focusing on training.


What other types of training do the athletes do, other than their discipline, to prepare for the Games?


All our athletes have very different programs and their designed to suit what they need with regards to their performance plans. Strength and conditioning is obviously a huge part of this and something that many of our athletes have focused on even more than normal especially when we we're limited with time on snow due to the pandemic. 


Is it hard to keep the athletes motivated to train hard, do you have any tips on keeping motivated?


Our athletes, coaches, support staff are extremely good at keeping themselves motivated mainly because they're so passionate and love what they do. I feel we've been incredibly lucky in these tough times as we've had goals to focus on which keeps you driving forward in a positive way. 

Andrew Musgrave, GB Snowsport Cross Country Elite Athlete

Credit: Marc Amann

How are you feeling with 1 year to go?


It’s been a bit of a wild ride this last year, and although we should hopefully be back to some sort of normality by then, I am concentrating on the here and now. To be honest, after the past year we’ve had I think we all know not to plan too far in advance. 


How do you keep motivated in the short term when you are working towards an end goal that is relatively far in the future?


It’s important to always have a long-term plan building up to the Games or any another goal, but it’s also equally important to have shorter-term goals on the way to focus on and keep the motivation up. As a skier we’ve got the World Cup circuit to focus on throughout the winter, which definitely keeps me motivated to stay at the top of my game!


What is the toughest part of your training schedule?


The toughest part of our training schedule is definitely VO2max testing. I am nervous for days beforehand, because I know it’s going to be so painful! 


What is your favourite part of training? 


My favourite part of training is finishing off a high intensity session (like VO2 testing). I’ll be nervous beforehand, it’s horrific and painful during, but if I’ve had a good session and really managed to push hard, I get an almost euphoric sense of relief and achievement when I’m finished. It almost makes the nerves and suffering worthwhile!


Do you listen to music when you train? If so, what is your favourite motivational track?


I listen to a lot of podcasts while I’m doing long, low intensity training, but if I’m doing interval training then I definitely like to have some tunes on the go! I’ve got a bit of an eclectic mix of go to songs for intervals: everything from drum and base to 80’s alternative. 


How are you preparing mentally for competition day? Do you have tips for others on teaching yourself to overcome the nerves and stress of those situations?


I make sure I have a plan for the race, and have checked all my equipment and got everything ready in plenty of time, so I don’t have to run round like a headless chicken trying to find poles, boots and various bits of equipment at the last minute. I’m usually nervous before the most important competitions, but I just try to embrace the nerves. Most of my best races are when I’m really nervous.


Are there any big milestones between now and the Olympics that you are working towards?


We’ve got the World Championships coming up at the end of February which is definitely the big goal for this season.

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