PUBLISHED: 13:37 15 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:37 15 August 2018
In his latest column, Nino Severino discusses a little-known sport in which Suffolk have one of the very best talents on earth – and the Olympic dream the national side is chasing.
I accepted the role of the Director of The Hub, Centre of Excellence at the University of Suffolk simply because I am passionate about sport, and am continually looking for experiences that will develop me as a sporting professional.
To be honest, this role has exceeded all me expectations, and has already – after the first two months – introduced me to so many individuals and athletes from the sporting world, locally, nationally and internationally.
In past columns I have written about the privileges and opportunities that I have been so lucky to receive, and last Friday was another I can now add to my ever-growing list.
I was invited to the British Telemark Skiing Dinner, held at the Cavalry and Guards Club located in Piccadilly, London. This was the first event I attended, officially representing The Hub, as the Director.
During my time in sport, I’ve attended many sporting events, dinners and awards, but I must say, this event was very special for a number of reasons, and one of them was the venue!
As soon as I walked through the very impressive entrance, I felt I was walking into a world of military history – the statues, the wonderful paintings on the wall, the military items on display, it was an incredibly welcoming experience.
As I know only too well, sport is divided into two groups, those who have governing bodies that have a lot of money to work with, and those that absolutely do not! Unfortunately, Telemark Skiing falls into the later.
But, this organisation has something that I very rarely experience within governing bodies and the way they operate – British Telemark Skiing possesses an incredible spirit that drives its massive aspirations for the future, which includes one day becoming an Olympic sport.
This spirit manifested itself in many shapes and forms, not least through the incredible and unique characters that are the beating heart of this sport and its governing body.
This might sound a bit strange, but as I met one character after another from the Telemark team, it was like being part of a scene in a film about an incredible sporting story.
I realised that the reason this British sport is quickly becoming a world leader, is because of the incredible individuals that are creating the solid foundations and driving its performance and reputation forwards and upwards.
Individuals such as Sebastien Mansart, the British Team coach. He is without doubt one of the best Telemark Skiing coaches in the world, and a very interesting character – conversation with this man is simply a delight and full of intrigue and surprises.
And team captain, Louis Hatchwell who is the sort of character you want as a leader. There’s Andrew Clarke, Telemark chairman, who set up GB Telemark and was an athlete and team captain himself.
And last, but definitely not least, was Robbie Houstoun, a military man through and through, and a current British International Skier, an individual who has brought an unbelievable and unexpected amount of support to British Telemark Skiing.
Its very difficult to put into words, but this cluster of individuals, for me, reflect why Britain is so very successful in so many sports.
I got the sense of something very special happening, this group of individuals have such an open mind set, a bravery to take on the massive challenges of running a sporting governing body, with very little finance.
As the Director of The Hub, the highlight of the evening was listening to our very own Jasmin Taylor, a world-class skier who is also a student at the University of Suffolk, studying sports science.
Jasmin is one of the athletes that flies the sporting flag, high and proud for Ipswich and the region. Simply put, she is the best Telemark Skier ever to compete for Great Britain.
She delivered an incredible speech to the audience, telling us that the British Telemark team base themselves in Hintertux for pre-season on-snow preparation from September to December in the lead up to the first World Cup races.
It was interesting to hear that they all work as an impenetrable unit, travelling, cooking, training and skiing together everyday, building massive team camaraderie.
Parents in sport are a massive part of ensuring Britain continues to be a force on the sporting global stage, so it was only right that Jasmin finished by saluting her parents Karon and Mark, who have supported her through the many years of committed training.
I now look forward to fully supporting the British team, and very much hope they reach their dream of becoming part of the greatest sporting show on earth, the Olympics!