Formation of the BSS Alpine Development Group

BSS19 December 2014

Formation of the BSS Alpine Development Group

Today BSS announces the formation of the BSS Alpine Development Group, a co-ordinated approach to the development of Alpine athletes within the British system from U16 through to U21. The main purposes of this initiative are to help prepare our U16 athletes properly for the challenges of FIS racing and to help prepare older athletes for the potential of going full time.

The three main changes that this initiative is meant to effect are:

  • A significantly clearer approach to entry levels
    • A significant change in emphasis to the criteria for remaining in programmes
  • The ongoing development of a co-ordinated syllabus designed to help U16 athletes prepare properly for FIS racing and to help older athletes prepare properly for the prospect of going full

The full syllabus of this Development programme and details of weekends and other logistics will be published in early February.

The British Alpine Development Group should act as a stepping stone to representative international racing and membership of the Delancey British Senior, U21 and U18 Alpine squads. Details of representative international racing and the Alpine squads are covered in the “Alpine Selection Policies for 2015-16” document published alongside this announcement.

The attached briefing document provides some background to the programme and also covers more detail on each of the three main changes.

All questions should be directed to Tony Willis at bss@teambss.org.uk

Background

Since its formation in April the Alpine Business Group has worked with BSS to restore the basic administration of the elite end of British Alpine racing. But it also has a responsibility to help our athletes to fulfill their ambitions. The first major step towards this goal is the formation of the BSS Alpine Development Group.

BSS believes that in recent years there has been a substantial expansion in the numbers of young Alpine athletes who are both committed and impressive. This is a tribute to the hard work of a number of clubs and academies. The purpose of the BSS Alpine Development Group is to support and reinforce the work of these clubs and academies in two main areas:

  • Preparing U16 athletes properly for the challenges of FIS
    • Preparing older athletes for the potential of going full

In preparation for this programme the Alpine Business Group has had extensive and constructive discussions with the Home Nations and would like to record its thanks for their input. The implementation of the BSS Alpine Development Group might be easier within the existing Home Nations structures but agreements on such a co-operation have not so far been reached. The Alpine Business Group remains hopeful that agreements will be reached for the 2015-16 season, but believes it is appropriate to launch this initiative now.

The three main changes that this initiative is meant to effect are:

  • A significantly clearer approach to entry levels
  • A significant change in emphasis to the criteria for remaining in programmes
  • The ongoing development of a co-ordinated syllabus designed to help U16 athletes prepare properly for FIS racing and to help older athletes prepare properly for the prospect of going full

The balance of this document discusses each of these in turn.

The full syllabus of this Development programme and details of weekends and other logistics will be published in early February.

A clearer approach to entry levels

Inital Entry

There will be three potential routes for initial entry to the BSS Development Programme. These will be through BASS or FIS points, Championship performances and coaches’ recommendations. The points based criteria will be judged at the end of each season.

BASS Point

For athletes moving into the first year of U16 any athlete within 40 BASS points of the best GBR racer of their YOB on the average of SL and GS points will be deemed eligible. The final BASS point list of the season will be used.

For U16 racing the requirement to finish both legs of a race makes it significantly harder for any athlete to make progress in terms of points. With this in mind, for athletes moving into the second year of U16 and first year of FIS, any athlete with a single completed result within 40 points of the year end points of the best of their YOB for that discipline will be eligible.

This will apply for either SL OR GS.

FIS Points

For FIS athletes moving into their second to fifth year, any athlete that comes within 20 points of the BSS CIT squad qualification criteria for the season following the one they have just completed, on any of SL, GS or SG will be deemed eligible. For selection for the 2015- 16 season these criteria will be set as follows:

CIT criteria BSS DG criteria
Moving into year 2 FIS 105 125
Moving into year 3 FIS 90 110
Moving into year 4 FIS 80 100
Moving into year 5 FIS 70 90

Championship Criteria

Any athlete finishing in the top three in their year of birth at a relevant championship race will also be eligible for entry. Initially these championship races will be defined as follows:

U14 U16 U18 U21
British Alpine Championships SL, GS, SG SL, GS, SG SL, GS, SG SL, GS, SG
English Alpine Championships SL, GS, SG SL, GS, SG SL, GS, SG SL, GS, SG
Anglo-Scottish Championships SL, GS SL, GS

 

For U14s, a finish in the top three on the two legs combined will be necessary

Coaches Recommendations

Any athlete within 60 points on any of the BASS point criteria will be eligible to submit a coaches’ recommendation. Such recommendations are likely to be heard by the Coaches Advisory Group formed earlier this year.

Fitness Tests

All eligible athletes will be required to take and pass a fitness test.

This fitness test is likely to focus on a subset of the ACE test used by BSS and the Home Nations in recent years. Precise details will be released in early February alongside a detailed syllabus.

A significant change in the criteria for remaining in programmes

BSS believes that previous systems have been too quick to drop athletes on the basis of a small number of race results.

Continued membership of the BSS Development Programme will not be subject to annual validation of either BASS points or FIS points. In particular BASS points at U16 level measure relative performance and not absolute progress.

Instead, athletes’ continued membership will be judged on 3 main elements

  1. The absolute progress of their ongoing fitness Any potential issue relating to this will be discussed with athletes and where relevant parents. Mitigating circumstances will be taken into account, particularly injuries. However athletes not showing the commitment to their sport that is normally evidenced by continuing absolute levels of progress may be asked to leave.
  2. A minimum commitment of 10 weeks equivalent of on snow time with a recognized training This is deemed the minimum commitment we would expect of an athlete while in full time education.
  3. Full attendance at two squad weekends per year will be There are likely also to be short evening sessions during major Championships. Again exceptions will be made for mitigating circumstances, including not racing at relevant Championships. But athletes not attending the full syllabus may be asked to leave.

The ongoing development of a co-ordinated syllabus

The syllabus of the BSS Development Programme will be focused in three areas:

  • Technical
  • Strength & Conditioning
  • Psychological/Behavioral

It will be designed to fulfill two primary functions:

  • At U16 level it will be designed to help athletes prepare significantly better for FIS racing
    • At U18 and U21 levels it will be designed to help athletes prepare significantly better for the possibility of becoming full time athletes

Comments on each follow below, but a detailed syllabus spanning all seven years of the programme will be published in early February, before parents and athletes commit to the programme. While BSS has already done significant preparatory work the final syllabus will be designed with the input of the Coaches Advisory Group formed earlier this year as well as external specialists. This syllabus will be subject to regular evaluation and may evolve over time.

Technical Training

While there will be technical aspects to the syllabus, it will not be designed to challenge the existing technical coaching structures of clubs and academies. However as part of their education, FIS athletes within the programme will also be expected to qualify as coaches at UKCP level 2 or its equivalent.

Strength & Conditioning

Strength and conditioning will be a major focus of the programme. BSS believes that most British athletes’ expectations in this area are substantially too low. There are two main reasons why athletes should take this seriously:

  • FIS racing is much more taxing than Children’s racing
  • S&C is probably the best defence that can be constructed against injury
  • The programme will focus on a combination of ongoing evaluation and education.

Psychological/Behavioural

This area will include an introduction to sports psychology for U18s, but the majority of sessions will be on a wide range of other issues. These issues will include:

  • General lifestyle advice
  • Financial issues including raising sponsorship
  • Balancing training and education
  • Understanding the detail of how the sport works

The Role of Parents

The Home Nations and BSS believe that parental education is vital. Parents or legal guardians of U18 and U16 athletes will be expected to attend a number of sessions as part of this syllabus

Delivery and Cost

BSS will announce dates of weekends along with the launch of the syllabus in early February. It is expected that the costs of the syllabus will be passed on to parents and athletes and the accounting of that will be made transparent.

All questions should be directed to Tony Willis at bss@teambss.org.uk


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