End of an Era.....
Well maybe end of an era is a little dramatic but its certainly the end of a season. A long one, a tough one, a busy one, a successful one, but however you look at it, deifinitely the end.
Im not sure how this season was received by others. I have a feeling it was good for some, great for many. The first experience of Ambition for a fair few new athletes, an experience that they enjoyed. For others it has all come to an end (prematurely in my opinion). Or perhaps it sucked for some, it wasn't meant to and certainly we have worked as hard as possible to get things right for all the athletes but you never fully know how things are received.
This morning was the first lie-in that i can remember in a long time (im sure lie-in is spelt incorrectly there but after 10 minutes of trying to work it out lets get on). When i woke up I didnt have a nervous feeling of 'have i missed something with the planning' or 'where's my list of stuff to do' or 'quick get a pen and write down all the work your brain has been processing while you were meant to be asleep'. Im pretty special in that way, im not sure its a good thing, but im what they call a 'thinker', those of you that are the same will know what i mean. My best work is done while im sleeping or driving and i wish those Matrix-style brain plug in things were reality so i could download this thing every so often. Anyway, my point is that its nice to have a small break, even for just a few days and im sure the athletes feel the same.
Back to the skiers, was it a success? Well it depends how you define success. This year is the first year that Ambition has won the 'Double' as a team - we are English Academy Champions & British Junior Club Champions. We have won both awards in the past (now 3 times a piece) but never in the same year until now. So as a team, on paper, we did the business this year.... However, we have a strong team, a large team, and we had alot of junior girls in an era when there are not so many girls around in FIS. So you can make the results or stats look however you like - Exhibit A - you can have a mediocre British Champs but if on the right day you ski half decent, are under-18 and not on the British Team, then you walk away with more bling round your neck than Mr T.
But in my opinion it was a success, we unearthed an undoubted gem of a coach in Jo Ryding and our junior program worked better than ever. We pushed as hard as we could and we got some results. And by results i mean changes, i mean developing thinking & understanding & improving the level of skiing - which we did considerably in many. We also managed some 'results' with the FIS points (which again can be completely manipulated - type in 'Bart Mollin' on fisski or find the most obscure country for a race to be held and you'll come across some wierd results). The childrens team developed well and the potential there is absolutely amazing especially on the girls side and i am really excited to see what we can do there with a bit more invesmtent and nurturing in the future. 4 girls were part of 'GB' this year which is great for them & their motivation, but Olivia Ward, Phoebe Long & Freya Eaton for example were not part of that 4 yet i am still full of praise for how those athletes have made steps forwards. Olivia's attitude, Freya's determination to turn things around and Phoebe, well she is hard to describe, seems timid but you can see that she 'wants it' - not because her mum told me so, because it is obvious these days from Phoebe's actions.
To give an example of my version of success, Barney Lewis is ranked 2nd in his year group for slalom now, but that didnt impress me the most about him in 2013, what was better was that he really grew up this year - no longer a whinging $£*?!. He now understands more of what it takes, has seen and experienced the hard races, the knocks you get and learnt how to pick himself back up - to me that is far, far more powerful in the long term than any points he may have made this year. To others this wont be, but to me it is.
Lets not forget the Minis! Sorry U12/U10 athletes. We have just started working with these guys. There used to be a show called 'Kids say the funniest things' it was classic. Well these guys were just like that, Tommy Dade, a legend in his own right - a comedy genius. Sarah Woodward & Glasgow - Ambition seasoned pro's now but great to see Sarah Glasgow getting back towards the level she is capable of and Sarah W keeping herself at the top as much as she can. Im excited to see this generation move through Ambition in the future with some good basics to work from.
The problem with mentioning names on here is that people get upset if i then dont mention them all - thats why i tend to talk about myself more, keeps it neutral in the eyes of everyone else.... (good excuse) but there have been positives all around, you just have to open your eyes to see them!
But seriously i want to mention people - i want to mention Max Asquith, Alex Buchanan & Ellie Pocock, who were the last 1st gerneration skiers with Ambition. This season saw them leave for various reasons, Ellie & Azza to injury sadly, and Alex who has moved on to hang out with captain birdseye (well gone to work her butt off on boats actually). All 3 will be missed - i liked Ellie's drive in her latter years woth us, i loved Azza's work ethic and having coached Alex for nearly 8 years with all the ups and downs, i am hugely sad to see her leave. I hope they will be back in some capacity in the future.
Then there's the others, what will become of Vi, Thomasine, Alice, Beth, the list goes on. Such a strong group of 95's but will they carry on racing? Time will tell. Even with the success they had this year, the jumps in rankings, the skiing improvements, there is still talk of moving on. A sign of the times i guess, finances are tougher, Uni's are calling, jobs are waiting. The first few years FIS are always the toughest, it gets more enjoyable as time goes on and you feel part of the races a little more, you start to compete, then its fun. I remember it clearly, racing with 40 points rather than 100 in an NJR is a completely different ball game!
For now though.... onto the future!! I've had my lie-in, cup of tea, longer sleep and already i feel motivated to get back on with things. Haus Tirol needs tidying & improving, programs need planning, emails needs answering. June is the time for rest, now is the time for work!!!! Charrrrrrge!!!
Lastly though, i want to say thanks to everyone that has been involved this year with Ambition, the coaches, the parents, the athletes. To the ones that will move on - good luck in the future, to the ones that i'll see again soon - get off the sofa!! It's been a pleasure as always, lets do it better in 2014.