The National Ice Centre (NIC) and British Ice Skating (BIS) have officially launched their new Speed Skating Performance Programme, after receiving the green light for funding from Sport England.
Following the programme’s soft launch in October of last year, it will officially kickstart this April to support the future Olympic success of the Great Britain Short Track speed skating team and aid young skaters competing on the world stage.
The NIC, based in Nottingham, has worked closely with GB Short Track over the past 18 years, supporting them to produce 18 Olympians including 2017 triple world champion Elise Christie, and Olympians Kathryn Thomson and Farrell Treacy.
The new Performance Programme was created after UK Sport’s decision last year to cease funding for the GB Short Track Speed Skating World Class Programme in the Olympic cycle. Following a bid with support from Nottingham City Council, it has now been confirmed the Speed Skating Performance Programme will receive a grant of £100,000 from Sport England to help create and maintain the training environment in its first few years. As the programme is not a legal entity, the funding will be provided to the NIC and overseen by the City Council. The NIC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the City Council, and a funding agreement will now be swiftly put in place.
Over the course of the programme and on the run-up to the next two Winter Olympics, including Beijing 2022, the funding will provide essential resources to help offset the participation fees for talented skaters which would otherwise be prohibitive. Additionally, it will enable the programme to retain expert coaches, and support some of the costs associated with the provision of equipment and facilities. The programme will be led by Head Coach, Richard Shoebridge, and his team, who will provide skaters with individual development plans to help them thrive within the environment created at the NIC and give them the best opportunity to develop into champions.
Assistant Director of Performance at GB Short Track Speed Skating, Jon Eley, said: “It has been a long and challenging season following UK Sport’s decision to cease funding for Short Track. The creation of the Performance Programme is a real boost for not only the current GB Short Track skaters but also for young skaters with big ambitions for the future.
“This investment from Sport England shows huge confidence in the new programme and most importantly, belief in the sport and the talented people within it. There is a great deal of good work happening throughout the sport in Britain, with real growth and development of young skaters and long may this continue.”
Hugh White, Director of Sport and Culture at Nottingham City Council said: “We are so pleased that Sport England has chosen to fund the continued development of speed skating in the city. Nottingham has an amazing track record of success on the ice and a great training facility. Supporting the work of the NIC with this funding bid and administering and overseeing this grant is a positive step towards building future success. We look forward to nurturing talented athletes from all over the country here, to our city.”