Winter Sports Competitors Prepare Differently Now

The world of the high level athlete has changed dramatically in recent years, with most top level competitors leading the lives of professional sportsmen and women, even if they are not yet receiving the multi-million pound salaries that some of the world’s top sports stars can command.

If you can remember the UK winter sports stars of 20 or 30 years ago, you will recall a handful of ambitious athletes making the best of largely inadequate training facilities, with the support of minimal back-up teams and surviving on tiny financial budgets. Some were lucky enough to receive the support of equipment sponsors and, if they were capable, could make the books balance with some payments for personal appearances. Others were fortunate to come from wealthy families who could back their sporting activities, but that didn’t necessarily mean we had the best of British potential representing the country. In some cases it meant we were handing out GB vests and jerseys to those who could afford them.

OK perhaps that is a little harsh as there is no doubt that elite skiers like Graham Bell and Konrad Bartelski were very talented, but British talent was certainly thin on the ground at the time. Following Bartelski’s 10 year career in international skiing, which included a 12th place at the Olympics and an unexpected 2nd place in a World Cup downhill race at Val Gardena, the best ever result for a British downhill skier (even though Konrad was actually born and brought up in the Netherlands), he went on to a varied career in retail, newspapers and television.

Fortunately things are much better today and not just in winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. Many of the so-called minority sports, with the advantage of lottery funding, are able to properly support athletes with Olympic potential as well as providing talent development initiatives to identify and nurture the stars of tomorrow too. British Cycling has a brace of Olympic-class indoor cycling tracks at its disposal in Manchester and Newport, plus a huge staff of coaches, equipment specialists, mechanics, physiologists and administrators. The new lottery cash also provides for a development programme that includes accommodation for athletes in both Manchester and in a European training base in Italy.

In winter sports there is a similar programme in place too. Obviously the facilities required for bobsleigh, biathlon or downhill ski training don’t exist in the UK, so much of the money is spent on providing training camps in foreign locations, which during the summer means heading for places like New Zealand and Argentina. There are also junior development initiatives too that will ensure Team GB identifies and developes new talent as early as possible and puts in place the necessary coaching infrastructure to give us the optimum chance of Olympic success in the future. Obviously we can’t send every budding teenager to the French Alps for the whole winter, especially when education and home life are equally important at that time in their lives, so that is when new training alternatives are called into play. The UK now has 6 modern indoor real snow winter sports centres. These are huge indoor facilities that utilise the very latest in snow generation technology to provide slopes of real snow for skiers and snowboarders to use. At the moment the slopes in these centres are all similar in length at just over 150 metres, but there are plans for new centres with longer slopes. Whether these will materialise remains to be seen, as history is littered with cases of ambitious snow complex plans that failed to find the right funding to allow them to succeed.

At the moment we need to make best use of those centres that actually exist and with sports like freestyle snowboarding currently thriving in the various locations, the future of the sport looks very good indeed. The British Ski and Snowboard Federation already supports several squads including a 9 member snowboard cross team that includes medal hope Zoe Gillings, a 13 member freestyle snowboard team and a 9 member junior snowboard squad. Also there is a World Cup half pipe team of 5 that includes the experienced Leslie McKenna and Ben Kilner. We currently have just one athlete on the Parallel Giant Slalom event team, Adam Mcleish who lives out in Quebec, Canada.

So with new investment, new indoor training facilities and a whole new backup and coaching structure in place, the Olympic winter champions of future years stand a much better chance of coming from Great Britain than they ever did before.

Water Sports in Lake District

Cumbria is one of the largest county in England and yet least populated. The unsurpassed natural beauty of this wonderful gifted land has made it a constant attraction for serenity seekers. Every year, thousands of visitors make their way to Lake District in search of peace in its tranquillity. The amazing Lake district, Cumbria has so much more to offer than just a sight seeing. The Lake District has a versatile landscape with numerous valleys, mountains and lakes.

The Lakes are obviously the reason this district gets it name from.

These lakes not only ad to the picture perfect charm of this district, they also provide excellent sport activity opportunities to the visitors who want leisure with an added sense of adventure. The major lakes include the Lake Windermere, Lake Derwent water, Bassenthwaite Lake and the Ullswater.

The waters of the Lake District offer a great location for many water sports like Waterskiing, Watersurfing, sailing, Kayaking, Canoeing and you can even hire a boat for fishing. The hot spots for water activities are majorly near the town of Ambleside, Windermere and Keswick.

Low Wood Sports and Activity centre

Low Wood Water sports Centre is situated by Lake Windermere, the largest lake of the Lake District. This water sports centre offers multiple water sports activities including Waterskiing, surfing, Sailing, and Canoeing. You can even hire yourself a self-drive motorboat or a traditional row boat, ideal for fishing or just a trip around the Lake Windermere. Many Windermere hotels are located near this wonderful facility. Some of these Windermere hotels are the Denehouse hotel, the Sawrey house country hotel and B&B.

Derwent Water Marina

The Derwent water Marina is situated near Keswick in Cumbria, an ideal location for all of the water sports and mountain activities. You can get canoes, kayaks, sailing dinghies, windsurfers and rowing boats for hire, an excellent way to explore the wonderful Derwent water. Other facilities include car parking, showers, toilets and changing rooms. Few nearby Keswick hotels include the Linnet hill hotel and the Lynwood hotel in Keswick.

Glenridding Sailing Centre

Glennridding is a beautiful small village only miles away from Ambleside. Glennridding sailing centre is an excellent place for the visitors to experience and learn sailing. Both leisure sailors and the sporty ones can sail across the spacious lake with a variety of boats to choose from. The staff is really helpful one and assures your safety and assistance throughout your stay.The place keeps updating itself with latest and up to date facilities.

If this is the place you are going to sail around in the Lake District then you can book any of the Ambleside hotels only a short distance away.

New Sports Centres Indoors

New and more ambitious indoor sport complexes are being planned all the time and even some of the world’s newest and largest sports stadia are being built with the option of turning them into indoor facilities.

The new Wembley Stadium in London, the most expensive ever built, does have a sliding roof which, although it cannot completely close, does afford protection from the weather for fans while still being able to retract and provide the conditions for the pitch to grow. Wimbledon famously added a roof to its centre court, after several tournaments were interrupted by rain and now there is hardly a major stadium design process that doesn’t at least consider including a roof.

In the US the redevelopment of the Dallas Cowboys NFL stadium will be the most expensive NFL stadium ever built when it is completed in 2009. It will have a 660,000 square foot retractable roof and will have a capacity of 100,000. In Japan, the Oita Stadium was nick-named the Big Eye, after its closing roof section which resembled an eyelid as it was being closed.

In the UK the popularity of sport as a pastime has allowed the investment need to build facilities to bring ever more sports indoors and away from the vagaries of the British weather. Indoor ice rinks date back to well before the first world war when Richmond in Surrey already had a rink that was taken over during the war effort to make hand grenades. The rink was used by some of Britain’s most famous skaters including john Curry and Robin Cousins, both Olympic gold medallists who used to train there. For a time it was the world’s biggest indoor ice rink until Vienna Stadthalle opened in 1950.

Streatham Ice rink in London has also been around, having existed as an indoor skating venue for over 75 years. Back in the 1960’s and 70’s there was even more interest and several new indoor ice rinks opened around the UK including the popular Silver Blades rink in Sheffield that opened in the late sixties.

The next sport to receive the indoor treatment was the wave of interest in water theme parks. These types of venues had already been built in warmer holiday resort areas such as the Costa del Sol, but again Britain’s cooler, wetter weather made outdoor complexes unsuitable. So, indoor water parks were built. Again Richmond in Surrey was one of the first towns to build an indoor facility in the 1980’s. Canada claims to have built the world’s first indoor water park with West Edmonton Mall in 1985. Now there are several of these waterparks in the UK including Coral Reef in Bracknell, The Dome in Doncaster and WaterWorld in Stoke.

In the 1990’s motorsport was the next sport to find itself transformed for indoor venues. Indoor gokarting tracks were opening up all over the country, from small tight tracks built in empty warehouses to long custom-built tracks that included bridges, pit areas.

One of the largest is the Speedkarting complex in Warrington that claims to have a main track of over 1 kilometre in length on three different levels and even boasts a Monaco-style tunnel!

Back to the present day and it seems adventure sports are no receiving an indoor focus. Mountain climbing now doesn’t require any mountains. Climbing walls are often included as a special area in many general sports centres around the UK and there are now several dedicated indoor climbing centres. Facilities like the Craggy Island centre in Guildford Surrey have over 1000 square metres of wall, providing 100’s of different routes, while the Awesome Walls Climbing Centre in Stockport has 23.5 meter tall wall area. Skiing is the latest mountain sport to come in out of the cold, into the cold as it happens. That’s because indoor skiing is no longer restricted to artificial slopes. Technology has allowed indoor skiing centres to offer real snow slopes, with snow cannons capable of generating snow that provides slopes as long as 160m, such as those at the new Snow Centre just outside London. This impressive venue provides indoor facilities for both skiers and snowboarders on two wide slopes.

Of course the 2012 Olympics that will be held in London are sure to enhance what is already an impressive list of indoor sports venues in the UK. These include a 6000 seater velodrome, a basketball arena and an impressive aquatics centre which will house two 50 meter pools and a 25 metre competition diving pool. A separate temporary building next door will house two pools for the water polo competitions.