With one year to go to the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, UK Sport is confident Great Britain can achieve its best ever Winter Games as the nation’s high performance sport agency outlined the medal targets agreed with winter sports for 2017.
In the final year before the PyeongChang 2018 Games get underway in South Korea, UK Sport has agreed target ranges with sports of 4-8 medals across Winter Olympic disciplines and 4-9 medals in Winter Paralympic disciplines at their pinnacle World Championship events this year.
Britain’s Paralympic hopefuls have already achieved their target of 4-9 medals having won a combined 7 medals at their World Championships in recent weeks. 18-year-old visually impaired skier Millie Knight and her guide Brett Wild claimed four of these medals, including a gold, while Menna Fitzpatrick and guide Jennifer Kehoe won a bronze at the same event in Italy. Para-snowboard duo Owen Pick and Ben Moore added two further medals to the total this week with a silver and bronze respectively at Big White in Canada.
The final medal target for PyeongChang 2018 will be unveiled ahead of the Winter Olympics and Paralympics with UK Sport aspiring to deliver another record breaking Games next year.
UK Sport will invest over £30 million of National Lottery and Government funding across seven winter Olympic and Paralympic sports in the PyeongChang 2018 cycle, in a bid to achieve the best ever Winter Games. This is more than double the investment in the Sochi cycle, of just over £14 million.
The increased investment comes following a breakthrough Games at Sochi 2014 where British Olympians won four medals to equal their greatest ever winter medal haul, including a first medal on snow, and the Paralympic team won six medals, their best winter haul in 30 years that saw a first ever winter Paralympic gold medal.
The seven winter sports funded by UK Sport are Bobsleigh, Curling, Figure Skating, Short Track Speed Skating, Skeleton, Ski and Snowboard and Para Ski and Snowboard. UK Sport is celebrating all seven sports this week across social media with the #WinterSportsWeek campaign.
Chelsea Warr, Director of Performance at UK Sport, said: “With just one year to go until the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games begin, our sports and athletes are firmly focused on consistently delivering in 2017 so they can head to South Korea in the best possible position. Our winter Olympic and Paralympic athletes performed superbly at Sochi 2014 and backed by National Lottery and Government funding, we are confident they are well placed to achieve further success in PyeongChang.
“We have real momentum within the British high performance system right now, following our exceptional performance at Rio 2016 where we became the first host nation in history to better both its Olympic and Paralympic medal haul post hosting. I have no doubt that this momentum has given our winter sports, in particular our athletes, coaches and expert support staff, the inspiration and confidence to take on the World themselves this year and look confidently ahead to PyeongChang.”
Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said: “As we start the 12 month countdown to PyeongChang 2018, our athletes are on track to make it one of our most successful Winter Games ever.
“I am sure our winter sports stars - boosted by increased investment - will take inspiration from the unbelievable British performances in Rio as they work towards South Korea.
“UK Sport’s approach to elite sport, and sustained Government and National Lottery backing, has proven hugely successful over the past decade, and I am sure the performance of Team GB and Paralympics GB in 2018 will make the country proud once more.”
Mike Hay, Team GB Chef de Mission, said: “At Sochi 2014 Team GB equalled our best ever winter Olympic performance with one gold, one silver and two bronze medals which was an incredible achievement. Winter sport is determined by fine margins and with one year to go there is a fantastic energy amongst our athletes and sports with the team recording some excellent performances so far this season.
“This year's medal range announced today by UK Sport is a huge vote of confidence in our winter-sport National Governing Bodies and the athletes who are attempting to qualify for Team GB. Our focus remains on ensuring that we have in place the optimum environment and facilities to enable the athletes to perform to the best of their ability at the Games.”
Penny Briscoe, Chef de Mission for ParalympicsGB, said: “Sochi 2014 was our most successful Paralympic Winter Games ever, with historic performances achieved on the ski slopes including our first ever Paralympic winter gold and a bronze medal on the curling sheets. Since Sochi, our winter sportsmen and women have been training hard to ensure that they are best placed to put in equally outstanding performances in PyeongChang in 2018.
“The results we have seen already this year, including some fantastic performances from Millie Knight, bode well for the next Games. To have already met their medal target for this year, reflects the strength of our ski squad, but margins in winter sport are small and we must not be complacent. We have also seen our wheelchair curlers achieve qualification for PyeongChang this season and have a number of athletes competing in the Nordic disciplines for the first time since 1998. All of this is great news for ParalympicsGB. I look forward to working closely with our winter sports over the coming year to ensure that we are collectively in the best prepared to perform in PyeongChang.”
Dan Hunt, Performance Director, British Ski and Snowboard, said: “This season has already been phenomenal for British skiing and snowboarding, with record-breaking results and multiple World Cup podiums in the Park and Pipe disciplines, as well as a historic second place for Dave Ryding on the Alpine World Cup Circuit.
“With the World Championships for all the snowsports disciplines on the horizon, we feel positive about continuing this success, and we are confident that we can go to Korea in a year’s time and exceed the success we saw at Sochi 2014, bringing home more snowsports medals for Great Britain.”