As if being on the British Junior Freestyle Snowboard Team wasn’t enough fun already, the jammy beggars get to go surfing over the summer and call it training! Kaz Wilmer talked to the people in charge to find out more.
While the rest of us have been counting down the days til winter, the action never stops for our national snowboard team. It may not all be on snow, but this summer, young athletes from the GB Junior Snowboard team were selected to take part in a pilot training program to help support their progression between winters.
Under the guidance of Ben Kinnear, coach to the British Junior Snowboard Team, the athletes were invited to take part in a unique cross-training exchange program alongside selected members of the junior GB surf team.
Competitions these days are getting more challenging, with double and even triple corks being thrown down. The need to maintain riding progression throughout the year is increasingly important. In a bid to help them keep up with their mountain-based competitors, Ben Kinnear had the teams engage in intensive training to promote their all-round fitness levels, as well as their mountain riding skills.
The one-week intensive programme involved three days in Cornwall and four days in Tignes. The athletes were put through everything from cross-discipline peer-to-peer coaching sessions, to video analysis sessions and joint land/water-based training sessions. This meant they not only developed their strengths and skills in their own discipline, but at the same time learnt new skills from the other discipline which they could then use – basically, surfers were learning form snowboarders and vice-versa.
Ben designed the course alongside Joel Gray of Surf Solutions. The two were also joined by Jenny Jones while on the Cornwall end of the training week, and together supported the juniors through the tough physical and mental coaching, from early-morning training in the pool, to hill-running and intensive yoga sessions.
Joel said that watching Ben do the technical video analysis of the guy performances was interesting for the surfers. “It is essentially exactly the same process as what they are used to with me and my surf coaching. We're essentially using the same words and processes to get the various results in our respective sports."
11-year-old GB Junior Team rider Tomski Robinson added: “I enjoyed learning new systems as it gives us clear goals of where we are going and we can go into a comp knowing we can nail a certain trick on any kicker."
The peer-to-peer cross-discipline coaching aspect allowed the juniors to develop their own skills, which can often appear faster when taught by peers, rather than with the added pressure from coaches.
Joel told us the whole week was extremely successful for everyone involved: “The overall aim was to get people focussed on improving in whatever it is that they do. A highlight for me was listening to one of the snowboarders talking to a surfer about how they go about working on new skills. It's this sort of discussion that was genuine and shows the crossover elements of advanced performance in whatever sport you're involved in. It was really honest and professional in terms of watching them and their feelings and emotions as they went through the process of trying new, high risk tricks."
However, the truth behind the success of the week can only be seen by the progress and response from the junior riders themselves, and GB Elite Junior Snowboarder Finn Bremner summed it up. “I thought the training week was an amazing opportunity, which I was stoked to be invited to," said 12-year-old Fin. “I really enjoyed the whole trip and I am keen to do some more surfing and definitely would be up for doing another trip with Joel and his crew. I would like to give Ben Kinnear and Joel a big shout out and thanks for making this happen."