Funding threatens teenage snowboarding siblings' Olympic dreams

Teenage siblings Sophie and Stephen Smith are on the British Ski and Snowboard Park & Pipe performance pathway.

But next winter they, along with their mother Cathy, will travel to Switzerland in a motor home and camp out near the slopes to further their Olympic dreams.

The two snowboarders, 13 and 14 respectively, manage to spend at least one day a week on a man-made indoor snow centre in England, but that pales in comparison to their rivals.

"We look at videos online of our friends, and they're ride every day because they have the facilities to do so," Sophie says.

"It's quite frustrating, cause knowing I could do more each week, but I can't, physically do it cause I don't have the size or features needed," older brother Stephen adds.

By taking a motorhome to the Team GB base in Laax, Switzerland, it will allow the pair to train for up to 10 weeks.

"It's going to be freezing, but it was that or nothing," mother Cathy says.

"So we're going to give it a go, we've borrowed a motorhome we're going to try it."

A breakdown of the cost of medals for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Credit: ITV News

UK Sport provides £5 million to British Skiing and Snowboarding, which combined contributed two bronze medals to Team GB's five medal haul in Pyeongchang - a total return of £5.7m per medal.

Part of that funding goes towards training for Sophie and Stephen in the performance pathway system.

Yet some mass participation but less elite sports, such as basketball, receive no funding at all.

UK Sport Chair Dame Katherine Grainger, a former Olympian, told ITV News changes in funding was possible, but could have consequences.

"At the moment I think you can't argue with we've had fantastic success, and that was our job to create British success, and inspiration through that success," she said.

"If we feel that now it should be focus in a different way we could do that, but we would also have to accept we might see less success if we spread it more wisely."

Both Sophie and Stephen fear a loss in funding for their sport could spell and end to their future hopes of snowboarding at the highest level.

"Snowboarding, it's what we love to do, so if that was taken away we wouldn't have a lot left," Sophie says.