Tis the season to be jolly, but also the season to enjoy elite winter sporting talent.
Each year, as the cold weather starts to settle in, we brace ourselves, eagerly awaiting the performances of our most renowned winter sports athletes. Tying up the ski boots and polishing up their snowboards, athletes from across the globe will come together as a collective force, ready to take on the challenge of triumphing in the World Cup Season.
This year, a change up in the usual sporting calendar was inevitable, and due to the on-going global pandemic, certain races have been postponed, delayed or cancelled. Unlike previous winter World Cup events, spectators have been restricted meaning many of the races are anticipated to be a closed doors sporting affair.
The first of the major winter sports, the Alpine Ski World Cup, started earlier this autumn on October 17th and is expected to run until 21st March. Several sporting titleholders have been invited to take part in the Sölden Opener, Austria. Recognisable names who made the line-up for the opening event include top favourites, champion Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, Henrik Kristofferse, and Alexis Pinturault. Representing Austria themselves, Matthias Mayer and Vincent Kriechmayr are also competing for a win at this years’ tough contest. Of course, the winter sports women are also showcasing their athletic ability, with Corinne Suter, Wendy Holdener, Lara Gut-Behrami and Michelle Gisin all set to outperform their rivals.
The Biathlon, Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping World Cup each followed last month, and for many of the elite professional athletes performing and competing this year, it may very well be the last competition before retirement. But what lies ahead for the retiring winter athletes once the ski boots come off and the salopettes are packed away?
Many of them will go the course of retirement alone, with little resource for transitional support as they venture on to the next life challenge that awaits them. Others will find the opportunities to seek out professional support programs developed to help them leverage their athletic knowledge, skills and abilities and transform them into essential workplace competencies.
At ACT, over the course of many years, we have worked collaboratively with retiring athletes to prepare them for future success. We’ve transitioned some of the most recognised global sporting stars into corporate business roles, perfectly matched to their personal career aspirations.
With the winter sports season in full swing, ACT gives you a small insight into just three of the incredible winter Olympians we’ve transitioned and placed in recent years.
Just one year after announcing his retirement from the British bobsleigh team, iconic bronze-medallist Olympic bobsledder, Bruce Tasker, undertook a six-month internship at American business and financial software company, Intuit. With support from the Athlete Career Transition Programme, Bruce successfully settled into his role within the company, embracing the opportunity to learn new, valuable workplace skills. When his internship expired, Bruce was offered a permanent contract within their Business Development Team. For Bruce, retirement was unexpected, the unpredictable event of a stroke ruled him out from competing at the 2018 Olympics and he found himself in a difficult and challenging place, with no solid plans for what life after sport might look like. Transitioning from an elite sporting environment with daily routines, structured support and planned activities can at times seem incredibly daunting for athletes, especially those who are steered into early retirement through injury.
Bruce explains: “I had no plan for life after sport, I retired earlier than I had planned to and hadn’t put anything in place. I didn’t choose to retire from Bobsleigh, it was forced upon me by injury. I found the biggest challenge was identifying what skills I had developed during my sporting career and having the confidence to apply them in the business world.”
His transition to Intuit was a positive experience that provided Bruce with several opportunities for continuous self-development, but in the end, sport still won the heart of one of our favourite bobsledding athletes and he later accepted a position coaching for the British bobsleigh team.
Elite alpine skier for team Netherlands, Anna Jochemsen has collected an impressive scope of medals and accolades throughout her professional sporting career. As is the case for many athletes, retirement was an early event for Anna, who decided it was time to hang up her skis and transition to the business world aged just 33.
A renowned, high-performing Paralympian, Anna was born with just part of her leg, but undeterred by her disability, her incredible determination steered her to compete at elite level sports, a passion encouraged by her father whilst Anna was still a young girl. Skiing swiftly became a full-time career, where in her adult years she’d spent approximately 25 weeks of the year in the depths of snow-covered mountains. Her drive to succeed in her sport has seen her placed sixth within the 2012/2013 world championships, and a bronze world champion media in the super combination.
“ACT really helped me in the entire process. As a sparring partner, they helped me to make up my mind. Their help gave me confidence in this completely new situation. Besides advice about the job at EY, they gave me good advice about how to look at my sporting career.” Anna Jochemsen
Academically inclined, Anna has also completed her Master’s degree in Nutrition and Health in 2016, which she believes supported her at the 2018 Paralympic games. Since the retirement of her skiing profession, Anna has transitioned from one high-performing environment into another, and accepted a corporate role at global leading enterprise, EY.
It’s been wonderful to share in Anna’s transitional journey and we’re confident the skills and attributes she’s developed both through sports and at EY will continue to offer her unlimited opportunities throughout the rest of her life.
Having risen through the ranks to become America’s number one skeleton bobsled athlete and three times National Champion, Annie was unfortunate to not have been chosen to represent Team USA in the Olympics. Annie became interested in the sport after meeting the father of skeletoner, John Daly, at the Empire State Games in 2004. Like many skeleton and bobsled racers, Annie transitioned into the sport from track and field and was first selected to the national team in 2006.
Her dedication to the dangerous and uniquely exhilarating sport has seen Annie celebrated for being one of the most talented and skilled athletes within her time of competition. Annie was heartbroken when she failed to make her third Olympic team, a dream she had envisioned one day achieving for many years prior to her retirement. ACT approached Annie at this pivotal moment in her career, and we presented her with prospective career opportunities at EY.
Apprehensive to say the least, Annie was unsure of what her future looked like and after years of sporting dedication and commitment, it was difficult for the high-performing athlete to imagine doing anything else. However, Annie decided she was unbeaten and grasped the opportunity to start at the global leading company with both hands. Within her new role, Annie demonstrated talent, skill and hard grit and upon completion of her sixth-month athlete transition programme, she was offered a permanent position. Annie is a great example of what life could look like after sport and it’s been a pleasure to support her.
“I think that ACT is probably my biggest and best tool that I could possibly have. I mean, even to go back to when we first spoke, without them talking and just encouraging me, every time we speak, Andy, Steve and Ben are so encouraging that I believe in myself more than I do when I’m alone or when I’m just sitting there thinking that I’ve failed; the guys are really great at reminding me that ‘you didn’t fail, you’ve done this, you can take those tools and do something else with them’, and I think that every person needs that.” Annie O’Shea