SEASON OVERVIEW 2015/16
Thoughts from the Manager. With season 2015/16 all wrapped up I think it’s about time to take stock and look back at all that’s been achieved at Kandahar Racing over the past 12 months – and I think there’s much to be excited about! We have a great programme evolving with a fantastic team of coaches and we’re developing an exciting crop of young racers who will soon become the next generation of Kandahar athletes. It feels like we’re really starting to build some momentum; trainee numbers are increasing significantly, our finances are stable and our athletes have already achieved some impressive results far sooner than we expected. Looking ahead, there are plenty of developments on the horizon to be keeping us busy. We’re continuing to build our schools programme, our planned full-time training blocks will serve our top racers better and our military training programmes will bring a whole new dimension to our services as a training organisation. We’ve come a long way in a short space of time, however we still have a long way to go before we’re back to where we want to be – at the very top of British ski racing. There’s plenty of hard work to look forward to in the years ahead, but it’s an exciting challenge we’re all eager to get stuck into.
Junior Programme. The junior programme has always been our core activity as an organisation and our school holidays based training camps will continue to be the backbone of what we’re all about. Our annual programme is being constantly refined and over the past year it’s been getting bigger and better camp by camp. Season 2015/16 started back in July with our summer camp in Tignes, France. Mother nature wasn’t on our side and the hot summer presented us with tough conditions for training. Thankfully we did have one run that remained in good condition which allowed us to run a productive camp where all the trainees made impressive improvements to their technique and in the gates. Although the mornings on snow were tough, the afternoon fitness sessions in the hot sun were awesome and made the camp both enjoyable and rewarding for everyone involved.
October camp returned to Kandahar Racing’s old stronghold of Saas Fee, Switzerland. Thankfully mother nature cooperated this time and we were fortunate enough to run one of our best camps of the season. Perfect weather, perfect snow and an ideal hotel all helped us run an epic 2 week training block.
The return of Kandahar Racing to Murren in December for the MKR created huge excitement for us all. Frustratingly good old mother nature decided that winter wasn’t going to start until January and so although we had enough snow to run some great technique training in Murren, the MKR events unfortunately had to be cancelled. This was clearly a big disappointment to us all, but none more so than for the organisers who put so much hard work into setting up the week. Many thanks to Julia and her team – fingers crossed for more snow next time!
The lack of snow persisted into January and the Anglo-Scottish Championships in Les Houches which was our first big race series of the winter. The green hills made training difficult in the lead up to the races, however the race track itself was full of top quality artificial snow which led to some fantastic racing. Kandahar athletes made a great start to the season with podium results and numerous trainees making the England Team qualification mark.
Next up was the English Champs in Bormio, Italy during Feb half-term. As always, a perfectly run set of races from SSE with a packed field of talented racers. Our athletes didn’t make the podium in Bormio but there were plenty who came close with some outstanding individual performances.
Finally, to wrap up the season we headed to the British Champs in Tignes, France over the Easter holidays. After a good week of training in the lead up to the races our athletes were fully prepped and confident. Thankfully all our athletes delivered and we even managed to notch some podium results to top off a great season. Huge congratulations to Lucy Bingle-Williams for finishing 3rd in the SL in her last season of childrens racing before FIS and also to Izzy Lander who finished 3rd in the GS in her first ever season of childrens racing! Our time in Tignes was capped off by a well attended ‘racer taster’ week which was great fun and introduced a number of new trainees to ski racing and showed them what Kandahar Racing has to offer.
The Next Generation. What’s hugely exciting is the momentum we’re building in terms of trainee attendance. We’re now averaging 30-40 trainees per camp, with our Easter camp in Tignes exceeding 50 trainees and again over 50 trainees attending summer camp 2016 in Norway. This increase in numbers has helped us create an exciting group of young racers who will hopefully become the next generation of Kandahar athletes challenging the best the world has to offer as Dave Ryding, Blaise Giezendanner and Dan Yule are currently doing on the World Cup. In particular we have impressive strength in depth in the U10, U12 & U14 age categories which bodes very well for the future. Already our trainees have started striking the podiums again and plenty have qualified for England Team status for season 2016/17 – I very much hope this is just the beginning of a new wave of success for Kandahar’s athletes.
Coaching Staff. Without the hard work and loyalty shown by our coaching staff, none of our success and progress could have been achieved last season. In particular Eilidh McLeod and Dan Poth have coached on every single camp and have become integral to the development of our trainees. Thanks must also go to Adam Piper, Hope Shooter, Russ Bennett, Amanda Pirie, Mark de Rosenwerth, Matt Thompson, Jake Richardson, Ed Drake, Rich Lambden and Angela Hillier who have all played their part as coaches invaluable to our teams efforts.
Schools Programme. Our schools programme that provides weekly term time training sessions on local dry ski slopes is starting to pay dividends in terms of our trainee numbers on camps and as a key part of our grass-roots strategy. We’re currently working with Cheltenham Ladies College and Cheltenham College Prep at Gloucester Ski Centre, New Hall at Brentwood Ski Centre and Ipswich High School at Suffolk Ski Centre. The schools programme has introduced many of our most talented new racers to the Kandahar programme and so expanding it is a key priority for the future. With expansion in mind, Hope Shooter has agreed to become the SW Schools Coordinator and Jake Richardson the SE Schools Coordinator, both of whom are actively seeking out more schools with ambitious plans for their ski teams who may benefit from our training programmes.
Full Time Programme. One of the greatest challenges we face is not simply creating talented ski racers, it’s keeping them involved in our programme once we’ve made them fast. With so many training organisations in operation right now and with many established academies already boasting hugely talented squads of racers we at Kandahar Racing must provide for our own top athletes. We must provide them with enough training opportunities as part of an annual structured programme in order to give them a fighting chance in the races against their peers who are all effectively full time athletes from a young age. This challenge has led us to create a small scale ‘full-time’ programme with academic support in advance of the English Champs in Bormio and the English Champs in Tignes for season 2016/17. Our top racers will train every morning on the race pistes and will continue their school work in classrooms every afternoon with qualified tutors. This gives a happy medium full-time programme that ensures our athletes receive all the training they need, while not affecting their schoolwork and importantly not breaking the bank of Mum & Dad!
Military Programme. Kandahar has long standing connections with the military and so we’re excited to become the training provider for the Army Ski Team and the Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) Ski Team starting in season 2016/17. This move makes sense with my own military background and importantly it will provide our coaching team with more valuable opportunities to develop as coaches and to gain more reliable working opportunities through Kandahar Racing. The military racing circuit is a hugely vibrant and competitive ski racing environment and I have no doubt our coaching team will bring on our military athletes to the next level and they’ll have a great time while they’re at it.
Other Developments. Off the hill we’ve made plenty of significant strides forward in our operations. The most significant of which is our new website and our new team kit. The website (www.kandaharracing.com) has given us a digital home that looks great and is constantly updated with all the training opportunities available through Kandahar Racing. The new team kit purchased from Avalanche took no time to sell off and so we’ve put in a fresh order for next season. With jackets, softshells, overtrousers, training shorts and catsuits we now look and feel like a team on the hill – it’s a massive morale booster and the trainees love it!
For me personally it’s been a pleasure to manage Kandahar Racing and to be involved with KSC. It’s a great project to be involved with and an even greater club, I can’t wait to see what the future holds. Bring on season 2016/17!