This season we will be sharing a series of blogs written by GB athletes, giving readers a deeper understanding of what it means to ski or snowboard at the top of the game

First in our series is Ski Cross athlete, Laurence Willows

Like many Ski Club members, my mother and father were keen skiers, taking a week or two a year for a skiing holiday. This wasn’t something they were willing to give up once having kids so I was put on skis just before my second birthday. My parents weren’t ski racers, purely recreational skiers both starting in their late 20s. My first few years skiing as a toddler consisted of tears, not wanting to leave my parents. 

By the time I turned 5 this had changed and I loved going away skiing and being in ski lessons with other children much older. When I was 7 I was entered into a ski race at the end of a week in ski school in Cortina, Italy pictured below. Although this was more of a recreational skier's race, I won my age group and placed highly amongst a large number of participants. Shortly after this I joined my local race club, Bromley Race Club. A huge number of coaches and parents helped progress in the very early years of my career but most notably from the first day was Raymond Brown who had coached to a high level for a number of years before taking a step back from full time coaching to just Bromley Race Club on a Saturday afternoon.

A few years later I went on my first race camp on snow with the British Ski Academy, age 11. Unfortunately shortly after my 12th birthday my father passed away from an unexpected heart attack. The following years were difficult for my family and myself. Unclear on my path ahead at such a young age I continued competing on the dry slope circuit and went on yearly ski holidays with family and friends. Age 15, I took part in my first British snow race in Les Houches, France, which was daunting considering the small amount of training and skiing abroad I had done in comparison to peers. I managed to get a number of solid results, which were purely as a result of the weekly dry slope training and freeskiing with family.

This was my final year in the children’s age category, at which time I was enjoying freestyle training on a Tuesday night at Bromley. After making a few friends I was introduced to Ian Findlay, now Snowsport England talent officer, who was the British ski cross manager. Having seen ski cross in the 2010 Winter Olympics, I was already in love with the sport. Ian was a vital player in introducing me to the ski cross scene at a time it was inaccessible. Taking time out of his full time job he would take me away to races with fellow team mates to help us progress in the sport.

A few years later I have competed in multiple Europa Cups, World University Games and World Junior Championships. Results were slow the first few years as a result of being self-funded (the bank of mum), and having very minimal training time. In my first four years skiing internationally I had still skied a smaller amount than full time athletes would in one season, however I knew this would be fixed over the long term. After finishing school I took a gap year to decide whether university was for me, which it was. In September 2015 I began studying economics, finance and banking at the University of Portsmouth. I was selected for the sports scholarship scheme at the university for 4 years, which included a financial contribution, strength and conditioning, physiotherapy, sport psychology and mentoring. The support from the university was a huge player in my progression within the sport as it meant I had all of the dryland support I required to be at the top of my game.
Two of my greatest highlights were definitely competing in the 2017 World University Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan and the 2019 World University Games in Krasnoyarsk, Russia where I made the quarter-finals in both races. Being in an Olympic atmosphere with all winter disciplines and a huge British support team was an incredible experience.


After graduating from university with a 1st, I was offered a graduate scheme role at IG Group in London. This followed on from a placement year at IG in my third year of university. Around the same time I graduated, I was selected for the British EC ski cross team. Following a lot of thought, I managed to negotiate 3 months leave per year in order to continue competing and follow the Europa Cup tour this season. This has placed me seriously well as I am able to kick start my career as well as fund my season!

Next month I will be writing about two of my most recent sponsors, as well as my goals and schedule for the upcoming season. 

Social Pages - 

Instagram - laurencewillows

Facebook - www.facebook.com/laurencewillowsskicross


Sponsors -

IG Group 

University of Portsmouth 

Surrey Physio

Wellsnowsports (Briko)

Reusch 

Solosportsbrands (Toko/ comfyballs) 

Salomon