This is only the second time that the Ski Club has awarded more than one Pery Medal in the same year and follows the sensational on snow success at the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. It was Great Britain's most successful Olympics for 90 years, equalling the medal count of the 1924 Winter Olympics (four medals) and the most successful Winter Games ever for Paralympics GB (with a total of six medals).
The Pery Medal was awarded not only to recognise the fantastic contribution these athletes have made to the success of competitive international skiing but for their ongoing contribution to the development of snowsports, their game-changing influence and the inspiration they have generated and continue to nurture.
The Pery Medal was instituted in 1929 by the Hon. E. C. Pery, later the Earl of Limerick, DSO and President of the Ski Club of Great Britain (1925-27) and was first awarded in 1930. Previous recipients of the medal include inspirational explorers, ski pioneers, Olympic and Paralympic champions, scientists and authors. Arnold Lunn was the first to be presented with the Pery Medal in 1930 (he was also knighted for services to British skiing and Anglo-Swiss relations in 1952) and Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Frans Klammer, Konrad Bartelski, Alain Baxter and Hermann Maier feature among some of the well known names.
Ski Club President and BBC correspondent Frank Gardner OBE presented the Pery Medals to Paralympians Gallagher, Evans and Etherington at an event at the Ski Club of Great Britain's headquarters in Wimbledon, London. A video of Jenny Jones receiving the Pery medal from Ski Club CEO Frank McCusker was also shown at the event. Jones was unable to attend the evening because of a prior engagement but she was honoured to receive the medal.
Jenny Jones; Olympic slopestyle bronze medallist at the Sochi Olympic games and the winner of three X Games gold medals in a row, is the first British snowboarder to win an Olympic medal and also the first snowboarder to be awarded the Pery Medal. Jenny Jones is a true ambassador for the sport and has boosted enthusiasm and participation in wintersports across the country. GO SKI GO BOARD, a national participation campaign run by Snowsport England, reported a 650% rise in web traffic following Jones's performance alongside her fellow athletes at the Olympic Winter Games. And artificial snow centres across the UK have recognised a huge boost in participation since.
On receiving the Pery Medal Jones said: "I feel very very proud to join such an outstanding group of people who have received this award. The last person presented was Pat Sharples and it will be great to have my name on the list under his and to be the first snowboarder on that list. I think it's a real achievement and I'm very proud, thank you."
Kelly Gallagher and her guide Charlotte Evans triumphed in Sochi finishing first in the visually impaired Super-G competition and winning the first ever gold medal on snow for a British Athlete at either the Olympics or Paralympics.
On receiving the award Gallagher said: "I'm so honoured for us to be rewarded the Pery Medal. It means such a lot for our names to appear alongside so many pioneers in our sport. We're really excited by the coverage that our sport has received. It means that recreational skiers and families who know someone with a disability can get out there and enjoy the same joys that we do."
Jade Etherington and her guide Caroline Powell won silver in the women's downhill skiing, combined and slalom, and bronze medals in the Super-G at the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi. Their three silvers and a bronze at the Winter Paralympics made them the most successful female British Winter Paralympians of all time, and the first Britons to win four medals at one Paralympics. The four medals Etherington and Powell won at the 2014 Winter Paralympics were part of a total of six for Paralympics GB, 66% of the total British medals at the games. Because of her unprecedented success at the 2014 Paralympics, Etherington was the British flag bearer at the 2014 Winter Paralympics closing ceremony.
On receiving the award Etherington said: "It means such a lot. It's great to be here in the organisation where skiing started in this country. No matter what you're doing you should just try to achieve the best you can. You never know how you will affect people in the future, hopefully in the most positive way."
Ski Club Chairman Rob Crowder, rounded up the evening by saying: "The performances from all the athletes at the winter Olympics and Paralympics have been nothing short of sensational and they have really raised the level of awareness and interest in winter sports in the UK. The Ski Club's information team, BDST (British Disabled Ski Team), DSUK (Disability Snowsports UK) and Ski2Freedom have all reported an unprecedented number of enquiries from new possible athletes and beginner skiers and snowboarders who have been inspired to find out more because of the Games, and Britain's snow domes and beginner courses have seen a surge in interest and uptake. It is an exciting time for wintersports and we at the Ski Club are proud to recognise such deserving athletes."
The Ski Club of Great Britain offer information and advice on how to get into skiing and snowboarding. Visit: skiclub.co.uk