An interview with British Ski & Snowboard Performance Director ahead of the UK Snowsport Coaching Conference

Dan Hunt joined British Ski and Snowboard in late 2016 after previously working with the Premier League to increase the success of home grown British football players.

Prior to that Hunt was Sporting Director at Team Sky following on from his coaching roles with British Cycling where he coached multiple World Champions and Olympic gold medal winning athletes.

 

  • Your plans are to make GB a top 5 ski nation by 2030, how realistic is that goal?

We think it is realistic and we wouldn’t have set the goal if we didn’t think we could achieve it. We did a lot of analysis on where Olympic and World Cup medals were won and also analysis on our pools of talent before setting the vision out, so there is lots of logical thinking behind it. The vision won’t be achieved out of thin air though. It needs the resources behind it, which is why funding will be key – whether that be sponsorship, fundraising or funding from UK Sport. We were delighted when we achieved additional funding for Dave Ryding and Andrew Musgrave, and that also shows the confidence UK Sport have in British Ski and Snowboard.

 

 

  • You once said “You never understand how big Everest is until you’re stood at base camp.” Where is team BBS now?

We are in a good place. Since I started my role last October we have put several programmes in place. We now have an Alpine programme at World Cup and Europa Cup level, a Cross-Country programme, joint Ski and Snowboard Cross programme and we have just recently launched a new Moguls programme. All of these programmes are supported by world-class coaches. We have gone out there and recruited the best of the best, and we think that is one of the keys behind our future success. You have to have your athletes being coached by the most experience and best coaches in the world, so that is what we have done. As we look towards PyeongChang 2018, we feel that we are in a really good position. We have at least five athletes, if not more, who are capable of winning medals, and we are just trying to ensure they are prepared in the best way possible ahead of the season and the Winter Olympics.

 

  • What do you see the role of the Home nations is in reaching the summit of that mountain?

BSS work really closely with the Home Nations on the pathways of the different disciplines. Although we are not necessarily working with them at the elite level, our relationships with the Home Nations is key to bringing through young talent and ensuring we have our next generations of Olympians. We have just appointed a new Head of Talent, Mark Ritchie, and his role will be to work very closely with the Home Nations to put processes and strategies in place to nurture talent and ensure the pathways are working.

 

  • How important is great coaching to BSS?

Great coaching is vital to elite level sport. In my opinion you won’t see success without the coaches behind it. We saw that at British Cycling when we announced a similar ambitious vision. We made sure we had world-class coaches in place and in my opinion they were one of the keys to the success of the team. At British Ski and Snowboard we try and work closely with the athletes to understand what they think they need, and then bring in the coaches that fit to that programme. Every coach we employ at BSS is world-class and I am proud to be able to say that. It is an exciting time for us and I believe all our coaches have the talent to help the athletes deliver success.

 

  • Do you have a personal vision of what coaching is

Coaching is hard work and often that hard work isn't seen or recognised by many.  I've been very fortunate throughout my coaching career to have coached some phenomenal athletes and worked with some fantastic people. As a coach its difficult as you fulfil so many different roles often to many different people in the same day.  Outside of technical event specific knowledge, coaching is a people business and a good coach can adapt and flex his or her approach to help get the best out of the athlete, either in training or competition.  That said good coaches truly understand what it takes to win in an event, have a growth mindset plus excellent communication and leadership skills.  The very best coaches have that X-Factor that you can't quite explain, they have charisma and presence and are able to inspire confidence in themselves and others around them.  Often coaches at the elite end of the performance spectrum are the ones recognised for the success but I've seen elite coaches operating at all stages of the pathway – in fact some of the best coaches I have met coach at a junior level.

  • If you had a message for someone starting their journey as a coach, what would it be?

Great Britain needs great coaches, so the more coaches we train and who gain experience, the bigger the pool of coaches we have to potentially work with. So I would say first of all ‘go for it’.  If you are serious about succeeding in coaching you need to be dedicated, put the hard work in, afterall we expect our athletes to give 100% its only right that they can expect that from their coaches.  You also have to create trust and create an environment for learning that athletes can thrive in that has not only performance but also athlete well-being at the heart of the process. You should want athletes to think of the coaching environment as a place where they work hard but also enjoy themselves.

 

  • Can we twist your arm to at least give us a prediction for PyeongChang?

As I said before, we know we have athletes who are capable of medalling at PyeongChang 2018. I wouldn’t want to give exact predictions, but look out for Katie Ormerod, James Woods, Izzy Atkin - and of course you never know what Andrew Musgrave, Dave Ryding or Billy Morgan could do, and we are doing everything we can to help convert 'medal opportunities' into medals. That said we have a new season to get through before the games and anything can happen, BUT, we are seeing athletes progressing from a performance perspective across all of our disciplines and BSS is stepping up to support them and that is the most important thing.

 

 

 
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