GB Nordic ski team

Operation endurance

Have you got what it takes to be a cross-country skier?

It’s one of the toughest endurance sports in the world – but with a clear pathway to the top of the mountain.

Are you ready for the challenge?

GB Snowsport (GBS) are actively recruiting for young people aged 15-22 who would like to join the GBS Cross-Country (XC) Team.

The programme has a track record of producing world class cross-country skiers, with Scotland’s Andrew Musgrave (right) and Andrew Young currently preparing for their fourth Winter Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022.

The aim of the new talent identification project is to widen the talent pool within the sport and prepare athletes for progression through the 2026 and 2030 Olympic and Paralympic cycles.

The GBS XC Pathway is supported by the sportscotland institute of sport (SIS) through the investment partnership between sportscotland and Snowsport Scotland.

SIS performance physiologist Kurt Rumley was centrally involved in establishing the criteria for the recruitment drive – which is currently open for applications until summer 2021.

Sign up now or check out the following Q&A to get more of a sense of whether this opportunity is for you.


Do I need to be a very competent skier?

No. Mark Ritchie, head of talent at GBS, explained: “Cross-country skiing is one of the hardest endurance sports and with this programme we are effectively trying to take on the world’s best with a unique British approach, equipping athletes with endurance and skill acquisition.

“Cross-country skiing is a late maturation sport. Our strategy is based on recruiting athletes between 15 and 22 who are already mature athletes with a track record in endurance sports – but they don’t need to be mature in skiing terms whatsoever.”


What physical qualities do I need?

You do need to have extensive experience of training in endurance-based sport for your age and stage. This opportunity is designed for developing athletes who already have a high fitness level and a desire to apply themselves to a new sporting challenge.

The examination process for applicants who are selected for consideration involves rigorous fitness testing, including a field-based Vo2Max related assessment.

Kevin McHugh, sportscotland institute of sport high performance manager, said: “The aim of this project is to tap into the wider talent pool and find athletes who would have good crossover potential from other sports.”


Andrew Musgrave and Andrew Young are both male Olympians – is that the main area of focus?

Quite the contrary. GBS are looking to recruit female and male talent across able-bodied and disabled categories, with a view to preparing cross-country skiers who can compete on the world stage and target both the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.


How will I be supported if I make it?

Alex Standen, Snowsport Scotland national performance coach (cross country), said: “GB Snowsport is in a really strong place to offer athletes the support they need to achieve results on the world stage, in collaboration with Snowsport Scotland and the sportscotland institute of sport.

“After many years working with a group of cross-country skiers originating in Huntly, there is a deep bank of collective knowledge and with all of our combined learnings, we can capitalise on that and accelerate the learning of the next generation.

“I would encourage any young athlete with a liking for endurance sport to look closely at this opportunity.”


Who can apply and how does it work?

Athletes can apply individually or parents, teachers and coaches can do it on your behalf.

Visit the GBS website to register your interest.

Picture by Sam Mellish  


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