Slopeside with the British Freeski Camps

The Ski Club’s web content editor Chris Taine reports back from Zermatt, where he was lucky enough to join the British Freeski Camps and members of the GB Freeski team as they hone their tricks on the Plateau Rosa glacier.

The British Freeski Camps, created by Warren Smith and Pat Sharples over ten years ago, when the new Olympic disciplines of Halfpipe and Slopestyle were in their infancy.

As freeskiing has grown and evolved, so have the camps, moving from Tignes to Saas Fee, and now taking place for the first time on the Plateau Rosa glacier that connects the Swiss resort of Zermatt and Cervinia (Italy).

The snow park, with views of the rugged south face of the Matterhorn, has a full-sized halfpipe (apparently a rarity for summer ski areas), multiple rail and box lines and set of kickers of various sizes, which gives the young athletes on the camps plenty to work on.

Although the tricks that campers are working on today would have been unimaginable when the camps were founded, British Freeski Camps co-founder and director, Warren Smith, has the same passion for the British freeskiing scene as he did over a decade ago.

Snow park on the glacier linking Zermatt and Cervinia

Snow park on the glacier linking Zermatt and Cervinia

It’s easy enough to see why, when you witness firsthand the infectious energy of the young freeskiers, some of whom are training as part of the GB Freeski Development or Junior teams. GB Freeski head coach Pat Sharples works alongside a team of coaches that share their passion for freeskiing with the athletes and campers, and even as a transient visitor, I could definitely feel the buzz and the positive atmosphere amongst those training on the glacier, whether they were doing their first 360s, or perfecting their double flips with switch take-offs and landings.

What really impressed me was that despite the quite different ages and ability levels of the campers, there was a sense of community and team work, something echoed by coach and talent spotter Becky Hammond.

These camps really brought home the fact that James ‘Woodsy’ Woods and Katie Summerhayes are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to British freeskiing. They might be the ones who have made a name for themselves on the world stage, but there are plenty more youngsters coming through the ranks who suggest that the UK’s slopestyle and halfpipe athletes will be worth following long after Sochi 2014 has been and gone.

Here’s a little taste of what happens up on the Zermatt snow park during the British Freeski Camps – but keep an eye on Ski Club TV for a more in-depth report in the not-too-distant future!

For more information:

Thanks to Switzerland Tourism and Hotel Simi in Zermatt.

Chris Taine


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