A tribute to Lloyd Bowen

Words by John Shedden

I was sad to report to this year’s AGM that one of our previous Presidents had passed away on the 22nd February this year 2018. 

Bryan Lloyd Bowen was President of ESC in the mid nineteen eighties, which were both turbulent and exciting times in the development of snowsports in England and the UK.  As we no longer have Presidents, his equivalent role today would be as Chairman of the Board of SSE.

Lloyd was proudly welsh, having been born in Colwyn Bay, North Wales in 1936, and, as President he was a powerful and untiring advocate of cooperation among the Home Nations in their relationships with each other and with the British Ski Federation (BSF). 

He trained as an architect at Liverpool University, where he met his wife Judith, before moving to practice in Leeds. It was there in 1964 that he and Judith gained first a son, Geraint, and then twenty-one months later their daughter Angharad, both of whom grew to be excellent skiers and later as racers achieved membership of the England Alpine Squads.

The whole Bowen family went on many skiing holidays and then discovered the artificial slopes at Rossendale and Harrogate.  Lloyd and Judith were founders of the Lions Ski Club, which is still thriving today.  Lloyd became Chairman of Yorkshire and Humberside Ski Federation and organised many competitions in his region and then later at National and International levels.

His motivation to lead english (and welsh) skiing to a “fairer” future in the british context, first arose when the Lions Ski Club held their first training camp abroad.  It was 1980/81 in Courmayer alongside the British Junior Championships.  They hoped that some of the young Lions might be able to enter those championships.  As it turned out they were not . . but not because they weren’t good enough!

In those days, skiing on artificial slopes was not considered by the racing committee of the BSF to be ‘proper skiing’ and there was no mechanism for youngsters from slopes like Harrogate, Pendle, Rossendale to enter the british racing structure.  British international representation, including FIS, World Cup and Olympic Games was determined by a panel of selectors.  Those selectors needed to know their racers and they did this by tracking their progress through the British Junior Championships.

The flaw in this process, as far as young skiers in ‘Dry Slope Clubs’ were concerned, was that entry into the British Champs was through clubs only.  Your club had to recommend you and then the start list was decided at the Managers’ Meeting where clubs’ managers argued for their members.  The problem was that ‘Dry Slope Clubs’ were not admitted and it was only members of Alpine Racing Clubs that were considered. 

In the run up to those BJASC in Courmayer, the Jury inspected all the training courses and made notes of who the better racers were.  At one training course, where Lions and Rossendale Ski Clubs had joined together, the jury were asked, by the Chief of Championships, to comment on the standard of two boys in particular.  They all agreed that one of the boys was well up to the required standard whilst the other one was not.  When they moved away from that slope, the Chief of Champs pointed out to the Jury that the boy they had all agreed was “well up to standard” had NOT been accepted into the championships but the other boy had been accepted.  The boy who was “Well up to standard” but not accepted was a member of the Lions Ski Club, Geraint Bowen.

The other boy (whom I won’t name) was a member of Rossendale Ski Club but his parents had been ‘advised’ by other parents that if he wanted to race at Courmayer he would need to join the DHO.  He was entered by the DHO.  When the parents of both boys talked together later they agreed that the ‘system’ was unfair and they all gave their full and active support to ESC to change the system. 

At that time there was not a british seeding system.  Three students at Edinburgh University, Peters, Mclaren and Gordon, had devised a mathematical method for relating racers’ results from one race to results from other racers in other races. They called their method “PMG Points” and these were used by the Scottish Ski Council to make entry into races and selection of squads both easier and more equitable.  This method was ‘sold’ to the International Ski Federation and evolved into the FIS Points that all racers are familiar with today.

Lloyd Bowen facilitated the use of a version of those PMG points for use in artificial slope races and thus a link was able to be made between races on art slopes and races on snow.  This then enabled the ESC and the home Nations working together, to hold the BSF to honour its commitment to the Sports Council’s Royal Charter requirements (for Grant-in-aid) that access be granted to “individuals - irrespective of their race, colour, creed or group affiliation”.  Thus with seed points, ski racers could now gain access to the national events - as individuals - on merit.

Before, whilst and after he was President, Lloyd was an active race official and Judith Bowen was Chair of ESC’s Alpine Race Committee for a number of years.  The attached photo shows Lloyd [marked] with a race organisation team at one of the early English Alpine Race series, in France.  (If you are reading this and recognise yourself in the photo, please write in and tell me where and when it was taken.) 

Sadly, some are no longer with us but those that are will, I am sure, remember Lloyd with great affection and admiration for his commitment to justice and equity for our english, welsh and scottish youngsters in skiing at home and abroad.

 
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