February 8 - Delancey, the firm behind the joint investment to lead the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Village, has signed a deal to become the principal sponsor of the British alpine ski team, with one year to go to the Sochi 2014 Olympics.
The announcement of the new sponsorship agreement signals the end of a period when British skiing suffered a critical funding shortage due to the absence of a headline sponsor, which ultimately put the training and preparation of the skiers and snowboards under serious threat.
Britain has only ever won one medal in skiing at a Winter Olympics when Alain Baxter secured silver in the alpine discipline at Salt Lake City 2002, but this was to be revoked when the athlete controversially failed a drugs test.
It is hoped that the new deal with Delancey will boost the nation's chances of glory at next year's Winter Games, with hopefuls such as David Ryding (pictured top), who is currently placed second in the Europa Cup overall slalom standings, looking to benefit from the property specialist's funding.
"Without Delancey's support for my programme it would be virtually impossible for me to pursue my World Cup and Olympic goals," Ryding said.
"I have not yet made a sustained attack on World Cup podiums and therefore not convinced UK Sport to provide me with lottery funding.
"The backing from Delancey will help me get over that hurdle and give me the opportunity to challenge the world's best."
British Ski and Snowboard (BSS) chief executive David Edwards also welcomed the announcement and explained how it could help Britain secure that coveted first Olympic snowsport medal.
"We are delighted that Delancey has committed to provide vital funding to help our alpine athletes develop and compete on a world stage in 2014 - particularly as this provides the opportunity to follow the phenomenal success of those athletes' who participated in the 2012 London Olympic Games," he said.
"Delancey's support for British snowsports will provide some of our athletes with vital training and facilities, taking us one step closer to achieving our dream of our first ever Olympic snowsport medal in Sochi in just twelve months' time."
The sponsorship of the team is in addition to Delancey's funding of the annual British National Alpine Ski Championships in the French Alps, which gives young British skiers the opportunity to race and train on International Ski Federation (FIS) standard pistes.
Jamie Ritblat, chairman and chief executive of Delancey, said: "Our elite British alpine skiers have great potential on the international stage if we, as a nation, step up and put the correct support in place for them.
"As with all sporting disciplines, a solid financial platform is the only way to ensure Britain maintains its world-class reputation, and I am proud that Delancey is able to play its own small part in ensuring this continues to happen."
His father, Sir John Ritblat, who is chairman of Delancey's advisory Board and was President of the old British Ski Federation, continues to be one of skiing's strongest funding lobbyists, and this year marks the 36th year that Sir John has been involved with sponsorship of the sport.
"Britain has tremendous young prospects across all of its skiing disciplines," Sir John said.
"However, in order for them to be in with a chance of challenging for medals at the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympic Games, it is crucial that they have the opportunity to attend race events.
"We hope this funding – that they and the sport so desperately require – will help some way to ensuring this happens, and encourages other businesses and members of the public to pledge their support too."
The qualification period for Sochi 2014 started in July 2012 and will end on January 19 2014, following which BSS will put selections forward to the British Olympic Association (BOA) who are due to announce the members of Team GB in late January 2014.
Second photo: © Racer Ready/Neil McQuoid
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