Ski cross (or skier cross) made it's debut in the Winter Olympics this year in Vancouver and many deemed it the most exciting sport in the Olympics, bringing with it a lot of interest and enthusiasm. The big names in British ski cross include Sarah Sauvey (who competed in the Winter 0lympics), Emily Sarsfield (who missed out at being selected for the Olympics due to injury but became the first British to win an Europa cup ski cross this year), Ed Cozzi, Max Hardy, Peter Whelan and Craig Robinson.
As it is a relatively new sport, most people are unsure as to how they can give it a go. In the UK, there are 2 big ski cross competitions: the British Artificial Championships and the British Indoor Championships. In recent years these have been held in Norfolk and Glasgow. They are run by the British Snow Tour who also organise The Brits in Laax, Switzerland which includes Ski Cross, Big Air, Slopestyle and Halfpipe competitions over a week for both skiers and snowboarders for anyone who has a British passport. In the Brits this year the Eastern Region had two female competitors both competing in the ski cross: Claire Wheatman and Sara Green who came 1st and 2nd respectively in the Junior category, with Claire being 4th fastest overall in qualifying. Unlike in racing where those who podium get a medal or a trophy, as ski cross is categorised as a freestyle event, the prizes include vouchers, clothing, equipment and even money.
Ski cross is usually best suited for those who have a background in alpine racing on snow, especially those who competed in the speed events such as Super-G. Many of the current GB team have their roots in racing, however, anyone who loves skiing, going fast, jumps, danger and adrenaline rushes are perfect for this sport.
Due to the speed, jumps and obvious danger helmets are compulsory in all competitions and back protectors are recommended by all and compulsory for some, gum shields are even worn by some people to reduce the risks of concussion during a fall. Any type of ski can be used for ski cross; however GS skis with a relatively small radius are the preferred choice of many as the length provides the speed and stability on the course and over jumps whereas the short radius allows you to make the banked turns and line alterations if you are cut up by someone else or need to close the door on someone.
For further information on ski cross, here are some useful sites:
Snow Tour series www.britishsnowtour.com
British Ski Cross www.gbskicross.co.uk, www.facebook.com/britishskicross
Emily Sarsfield www.emilysarsfield.com