Scottish Independence and Winter Sports
“How will the Scottish Independence vote affect winter sports?” has been one of the hot topics for debate in recent weeks as the ski and snowboard industry gears up for the new season. As voters head to the polls, we air some views…
For starters, Scotland has the best skiing in the UK. There are five resorts in total at present – Cairngorm, Glencoe, Glenshee, The Lecht and The Nevis Range. If the Yes vote wins, the UK will lose them all!
Scotland is home to BASI, the UK’s ski instructors organisation, which trains and assesses ski and snowboard instructors. BASI (British Association of Snowsport Instructors) were founded in Aviemore over 50 years ago and are still based in the Scottish Highlands, in Grantown-on-Spey. Many of its members a non-Scottish and the company is registered in Scotland. Depending on the result of the ballot today, we gather that the company may decide to re-register the company south of the border. A straw poll of its 6 thousand-plus members on Facebook, asking “If Scotland votes Yes for independence should BASI re-locate so as to remain inside the UK?” showed 69% in favour of a move, and 27% against.
As well as instructors, many of the UK’s past Winter Olympians have hailed from Scotland, including Emma Carrick-Anderson (now a BBC sports commentator), Alain Baxter, Finlay Mickel and Lesley Beck. One of our top skiers at the moment, Dougie Crawford, is also Scottish.
And who can forget the gold medal winning performance of the women’s curling team, captained by Scot Rhona Martin, in Salt Lake city in 2002, or the curlers in the Sochi games of 2014 – the men who triumphed with silver medals, led by six-times Scottish champion, David Murdoch from Lockerbie; and the women who took bronze, skippered by Eve Muirhead, who hails from Perth in central Scotland. They all competed for Team GB in their day.
However, even with so many wintersports athletes, Scottish independence begs the question whether Scotland alone could field a strong team across a range of disciplines to be competitive in its own right.
Even the Scottish Secretary, Alistair Carmichael, remarked that Scotland’s independence would break up “a host of great British institutions” – including its Olympic teams. One of the main issues would be financial – funding from UK sport would end.
It would also be sad to see the current Team GB split as ski racer Chemmi Alcott warmed: “We are already a small nation in snowsports terms when we are united, and so to divide it would be disasterous. It would be tragic for England and for Scotland.”
Of course, there are far greater issues at stake than winter sports holidays in today’s Scottish Referendum. However, a Yes vote will definitely impact on snowsports and the travel industry.
As voters head to the polls for what promises to be a nail-biting day, we await the results of the Scottish Referendum.