The GB Short Track Academy will officially launch this month at Ice Sheffield. Following a rigorous selection process through the Need4Speed recruitment campaign in 2016, 12 young athletes will become the first ever members of the Academy.
Over 70 individuals applied for the opportunity in 2016, ranging between ages 15 and 18 from a mixture of ice discipline backgrounds including figure skating, ice dance, ice hockey, as well as short track. 50 of these were invited to take part in a multi-phase talent identification process, they were tested on a number of physical challenges, and their training and competition history reviewed.
During a further three month process, psychological and medical assessments were carried out with a condensed group of 18 individuals, to assess their suitability for the Academy and of these, 12 were selected.
The athletes have come through the following clubs; 4 from the Nottingham Ice Racing Club, 4 from the Mohawks Ice Racing Club Solihull, 2 from the Sheffield Speed Skating Club and 2 from the Aldwych Speed Club.
Three of these athletes have transferred from origins in Figure Skating and one from Ice Dance. The clubs and coaches of all these individuals are commended on their development programmes, as well as the families of the athletes, for supporting these journeys onto the GB Short Track Academy.
The Academy is a camp-based programme, which will operate between individual skating clubs and Ice Sheffield. Building on the foundations provided by the coaches and clubs, the Academy will develop a culture of teamwork and excellence, through access to world class coaching and development of each individual’s programme.
Membership in the Academy will typically last for 2-3 years with annual reviews in place. The Academy will continuously work closely with clubs, coaches and parents or guardians to support a smooth transition and it is anticipated that a large proportion of the athletes will progress onto the World Class programme.
On 29th January 2017, the selected athletes will come together to meet for the first time as official Academy members. The athletes that have been selected are:
Peter Riches, Solomon Prempeh (Aldwych Speed Club), Kyle Ross-Waddell, Rose Happer, Isabelle Roberts, Talya Kaye (Nottingham Ice Racing Club), Ethan Treacy, Niall Treacy, Charlotte Hayward, Natasha Nemeth-Knight (Mohawks Ice Racing Club), Bradley Wills, Branden Marshall (Sheffield Speed Skating Club).
Charlotte Hayward, one of the first new members of the Academy said: "I am proud to have been selected to be a member of the GB Short Track Speed Skating Academy. The programme offers me access to elite coaching and sport related specialists.
“Following this pathway takes me one step closer to achieving my ultimate goal of representing the UK at a winter Olympic Games. I am looking forward to training with and learning from other members of the team."
The GB Short Track Academy provides an opportunity for the athletes to progress from club level to the World Class programme, which currently includes world record holder Elise Christie (picutred) and 2016 European medallist Charlotte Gilmartin. The Academy is funded and supported by UK Sport (National Lottery and Exchequer Funding), the English Institute of Sport and the National Ice Skating Association.
Elise Christie believes it is a brilliant opportunity for the young athletes, she said: “The Academy staff are totally committed to supporting athletes in every aspect of their development. Becoming World Championships medallist, European Champion and breaking a World Record isn’t easy, and it requires years of hard work and commitment. This is an exciting time to be part of GB Short Track and I wish all athletes the best of luck on the journey.”
The team leading the Academy are, Jon Eley (Manager), Jo Eley (Head Coach), Ravi Sehdeva (Physiotherapist), Richard Shoebridge (Coach) and Jon Marzetti (Psychologist).
Former Olympian Jon Eley, Academy Manager sees the Academy as a turning point for the development of the sport, he said: “The Academy is about giving athletes the opportunity to learn and develop, both as a skater and a person. There is high expectation of these athletes, but through the rigorous selection process it is believed we have unearthed future champions ready for the challenge.
“The Academy staff and I are thrilled about the prospect of working with and being part of these young athletes’ journey. This is truly an exciting time for not only GB Short Track but the whole of the sport in Great Britain”
Applicants who did not qualify for the Academy have been encouraged and supported to continue the sport though the club system where possible. The Need4Speed recruitment drive will be repeated later in the year, again targeting the 15 – 18 age group, and those who are already competent skaters.