Winter Olympic Athlete Jamie Nicholls Celebrates the Importance of Local Sports Facilities
Two-time Olympian Jamie Nicholls paid tribute to vital local facilities such as the Halifax Ski Slope for their key role in providing a platform for people inspired by the Winter Olympics to try snow sports.
The Yorkshire venue has become a hotbed of winter sports talent in recent years, with Beijing 2022 stars Katie Ormerod and Katie Summerhayes both training on the track at the start of their careers.
Snow sports are so much more accessible than people think, with many of the over 200 clubs and facilities across the UK funded by the National Lottery.
And speaking at Halifax Ski Slope to support Winter Olympic athletes and to celebrate the vital role of National Lottery players in funding British talent, snowboarding star Nicholls believes the facilities are vital in a country that doesn’t have as many natural winter venues as some of its Olympic rivals.
The 28-year-old, who grew up on the dry slopes of Yorkshire himself and competed at Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018, said: “They’re very important and they’re all scattered across the country.
“You just have to go to Google and search ‘my nearest snowboarding slope’ and I’m sure there’s one not too far, whether it’s covered or dry.
“We have the National Lottery who do an incredible job funding these places and ensuring that the facilities are kept up to date and continue to operate. This is where people can come in.
“Snow sports have really taken off in the UK. For a place without snow, it’s amazing and we currently have such a good group of athletes in the Olympics. I would like this to continue.
“I want to be on the couch when I’m retired and old, always looking back and thinking that what we started continues, and I can always watch future Olympians who started on dry slopes and indoor snow domes. That would be great.”
Together the National Lottery and the Government have invested £32 million in UK Olympic and Paralympic winter athletes and sports for Beijing, enabling the dedicated and passionate athletes of Team GB and ParalympicsGB to fulfill their dreams of representing the nation.
And people may not realize that Team GB and ParalympicsGB winter athletes come from a wide variety of backgrounds, beginning their journey at local National Lottery-funded facilities across the UK. , as is Halifax.
The dry slope nurtured talents such as Nicholls, Summerhayes and Ormerod – Nicholls’ cousin – while James Woods also started his career in nearby Sheffield.
Nicholls thinks the group of snowboarders the region has produced is particularly special given that it was passion, not the Olympic dream, that first inspired them.
He added: “It has a lot to do with the facilities we have in Yorkshire.
“We have Halifax Ski Slope, where me and Katie are from, and then you have Sheffield, which was an amazing slope and wasn’t too far from Halifax either. We have incredible athletes who come from there.
“I don’t think we’ve all been focused on going to the Olympics. We were riding and enjoying it and it was a passion for all of us. The Olympics came about and it naturally fell into place that we were all going to try and try to get there – and we all were.
“These facilities are open – you can go there and ride whenever you want. The beauty of Halifax, for example, is that there’s always a permanent jump there.
“That’s why I got so good, because I rode every night seven nights a week, pretty much my entire childhood.”
The National Lottery raises millions of pounds for elite and grassroots community sport, helping UK athletes achieve their dreams of representing the nation at the Olympic and Paralympic Games and also providing essential community sporting facilities across the Kingdom Kingdom, which makes more people active.
Very few people will be as proud to see Ormerod and Summerhayes compete in the Winter Olympics as longtime Halifax Ski Hill coach Wayne Taylor.
Taylor, 47, coached several Team GB stars as juniors and admits he was delighted to see some of them compete on the world stage.
He said: “I’m really thrilled with it all. It puts a real shine on your face to know that these kids come from normal backgrounds. They come and ride here almost every day, they get pretty good and now they’re Olympians traveling the world. What an effort!
“I think now all these kids are watching the Olympics and seeing that all these people from normal backgrounds have gone to this level, they should go to their local sports facilities. The more you do something, the better off you will become, and who knows where it will take you.
“Funding from the National Lottery was crucial. We couldn’t have done this without the National Lottery players.
Hosting the second Games in less than a year is a fantastic opportunity to see our Olympic and Paralympic athletes inspire us on the world stage – this time, the spectacular and thrilling Winter Games in Beijing.
Among those in action on the track today was William Norris, 13, who started skiing at the age of three and is hugely inspired by those who have walked the track before him.
“I have been skiing and skiing for ten years.” he said.
“Over the past decade, I have really enjoyed the sport. It’s really fun and today feels good. Many Team GB Olympians grew up here. They inspire me a lot because I can take inspiration from their tricks and improve with my skiing.
“I would love to go to the Olympics one day.”
National Lottery players are one of the biggest supporters of Team GB and ParalympicsGB winter athletes and raise over £30m every week for good causes including grassroots sport and elite sport. Discover the positive impact of playing the National Lottery at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes