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Monthly update from our Chef de Mission

on 16-10-2013 10:00

ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission for Sochi 2014 Penny Briscoe shares an insight into the planning and acitvity behing preparing the team for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

At the start of this month the British Paralympic Association completed its final site visit to Sochi. The group comprising Team Leaders and Head Coaches from Wheelchair Curling, Alpine Skiing and Ice Sledge Hockey were joined by a number of BPA staff from across Sport, Operational Delivery and Communications directorates.

With clear aims in mind, and armed with a long list of questions, our group had one full day of meetings scheduled with colleagues from all of the Organising Committee’s ‘functional area’ teams and another full day of site visits to venues and villages.

After a night in Moscow we headed down to Sochi. With so much of the infrastructure still unfinished when we last visited in March, and with stories of floods still fresh in the news, it was with some trepidation that we boarded the S7 flight down to the Black Sea resort! Reassuringly, the sun was shining as we touched down in Sochi and the advice to bring our ‘rubber gum boots’ seemed somewhat of an overkill!

The meetings with the Organising Committee went well and a very productive first day was rounded off with an enjoyable team dinner which provided the ideal, informal, environment for many of our group to make in-roads on forming relationships which will be so critical to effective delivery of the ParalympicsGB Team come Games-time.

"The mountain village is a stunning setting and the accommodation and other amenities promise to be excellent."Penny Briscoe

On day two we headed first for a tour of the Alpine Skiing venue and the Mountain Village on what was a dreary and increasingly wet day. Not surprisingly there was no snow to be seen on the slopes but the venue had clearly progressed from the test event and is really starting to take shape. Progress was also evident in the Mountain Village where we were actually able to see ParalympicsGB’s Games-time accommodation allocation. The mountain village is a stunning setting and the accommodation and other amenities promise to be excellent – the Alpine staff were very happy with what they saw.

We then left the mountains for the coast. We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to tour the Fischt Stadium, the setting for both Opening and Closing Ceremonies, for the first time. With views through the stadium of both the sea and the mountains it will be a truly spectacular venue once complete.

Having already had the opportunity to compete in the Ice Cube the Wheelchair Curling staff looked at home as we toured the venue once again; but, always with an eye for detail, this familiarity did not stop Team Leader Dave Crosbee from asking final points of clarification and confirmation on issues such as warm up area lay out and athlete passage through the mixed zone. Elsewhere, the Ice Sledge Hockey staff were visiting the Shayba Arena for the first time and were visibly blown away by this magnificent facility.

"I was delighted by both the professionalism of our delegation and in the very positive team dynamic amongst this emerging 2014 ParalympicsGB team."Penny Briscoe

With so much to assimilate from two incredibly busy days we held a short debrief before we flew home in order to ensure we had captured the key information and had our outstanding questions recorded ready to feed back in to colleagues at the Organising Committee. At the end of a demanding but productive week I am delighted to be able to report back some impressive progress especially with regards the villages. Moreover, I was delighted by both the professionalism of our delegation and in the very positive team dynamic amongst this emerging 2014 ParalympicsGB team.

Next month the team will continue to be busy as the winter season is now in full swing. Good luck to all of the athletes competing, particularly the Ice Sledge Hockey team who travel to their final qualification tournament in Turin, and the Alpine Skiiers who are also preparing on the slopes of Hintertux. Last but not least, the Wheelchair Curling team are competing at the Kinross International and we wish them good luck in their preparations for Sochi. I look forward to sharing more of the news and developments with you in my next Chef de Mission update, but remember to click here to catch up on my blogs from previous months.


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