In particular, management has worked on the design for a new Snowboard Cross Programme, which will involve two coaches and four athletes. A Programme priority is ensuring a strong team focus and day today functionality.
To this end, the athletes have been required to attend planning sessions as a precondition to being invited into the Programme. This is considered prudent and appropriate, as the Programme will be funded in part by public funds.
The planning sessions included four athletes (Alex Pullin, Cameron Bolton, Jarryd Hughes and Belle Brockhoff) and supporting individuals, the nominated Head Coach, an executive representative of both OWIA and Ski and Snowboard Australia (SSA), and external facilitators from the Australian Institute of Sport. Importantly, it provided an equal opportunity for all to make a full and frank contribution in a facilitated environment and have full knowledge of the content, expectations and details of the Programme in the future. An outcome of the sessions was the development of individual and team behavioural frameworks. An important part of the process was to address all past and outstanding issues held by everyone invited to attend.
As announced in Sochi by OWIA CEO, Geoff Lipshut, going forward the OWIA Snowboard Cross program will be team focused rather than the target athlete focus, as was the case after Vancouver and leading in to Sochi.
The athletes’ active participation in the review and planning process allowed a frank exchange of individual views and perspectives. This resulted in their developing an agreed athlete code of behavior, and committing to an understanding of the need for a cohesive and well functioning team, underpinned by a shared set of values and effective group culture.
The OWIA and SSA representatives apologized to the athletes for a misunderstanding, in the years leading up to the Olympics, regarding the criteria for support and recognition and eligibility for OWIA scholarships.
In turn, the athletes and their family representatives acknowledged that the public statements were distracting and potentially detrimental to the athletes’ prospects. The athletes undertook to each represent his or her own position in public in an appropriate and timely manner, and not allow others to speak for them.
By the conclusion of the activity, all involved were satisfied that many of the long held issues that resulted in conflict between athletes, their supporters and responsible organisations, had been explored, explained, discussed and resolved. Middle ground was found by all involved with the aim of providing a better future for the athletes.
A management recommendation has now been made to the OWIA Board of Directors to adopt and fund a team Snowboard Cross Program for the up coming international season, and beyond to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
The Team Programme will be operated by the OWIA in partnership with the NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) and SSA.
The Programme will immediately provide support to the four athletes in the lead up to the World Snowboard Championships, to be held in Kreischberg, Austria during January 2015.
Alex Pullin will be attempting to become the first person in his sport to win three consecutive titles. Jarryd Hughes, will be looking to back up his first World Cup win during December 2013 with a World Championship gold medal. Belle Brockhoff is looking to improve upon her Sochi result of 8th and World Cup podium placing in Austria 2013, with a finals appearance and a maiden world championship medal finish. Cam Bolton is aiming to improve upon his 11th placing at the recent Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, with a finals appearance in the finals (top 6) and a maiden World Championship medal.
For the first time, a Snowboard Cross team event will be held at the World Championships and it is likely that the Australian male athletes will be amongst the favourites in this discipline.
The OWIA has reappointed Ben Wordsworth as Head Coach and Graham Watanabe (USA) as the Assistant and Technical Coach.
The athletes are now all looking forward to getting on with their job of winning medals in the future, with the ultimate aim being a multi medal outcome at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea during February 2018.
This statement has been jointly agreed by the athletes and officials below:
Ski and Snowboard Australia
Michael Kennedy, CEO
Olympic Winter Institute of Australia
Geoff Lipshut, CEO
18th November 2014
The OWIA SBX Team departs Australia this week for the first training camp of the season during November in Pitztal, Austria followed by the opening World Cup competition in Montafon, also in Austria.