Sochi 2014: Team GB winter sports set to receive funding boost

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter in Sochi
Britain's brilliant Sochi medal haul

UK Sport says it expects to increase funding for winter sports following Great Britain's record-equalling Winter Olympic performance in Sochi.

Team GB won four medals in Sochi, which matched their total from the inaugural Winter Olympics in 1924 in France.

Six sports shared a fund of £13.4mexternal-link over the past four years, but that pot could now be boosted for the 2018 Olympics.

"It's been an outstanding Games and the athletes need and deserve the support," said UK Sport chief Liz Nicholl.

"I can't say what the investment will be from sport-to-sport as we'll discuss that with them over the coming weeks and months, but I am anticipating more investment in winter sport."

Lizzy Yarnold continued Britain's proud tradition of winning a medal at each Olympics in which the sport of skeleton has featured by claiming gold in Russia.

The men's curling team took silver and the women bronze, while snowboarder Jenny Jones finished third in slopestyle's Olympic debut.

Great Britain finished 19th in the medal table, but the plan - based on the sort of "no compromise" funding policy applied to summer sports post-2006 - is to be higher in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in four years.

"We're anticipating building on it and will be going for more medals in 2018," said Nicholl.

"The success has shown that the approach we have taken to athletes, and supporting sports with medal prospects, is working.

What Yarnold did after she won gold

"It gives us a huge amount of confidence in the system."

Four-time Olympic rowing champion Sir Matthew Pinsent, who has covered both the Vancouver and Sochi Games for the BBC, believes now is the time for winter events to receive the same support as the summer sports.

"I think some of the winter sports, like curling, freestyle and short track are performing like summer sports, so why offer different support?" he said.

"Germany and Norway don't make this distinction and I think we should shed this idea of not being a winter nation. Actually it's not true - we can be."

Nicholl said that the funding award would not be anywhere near the £272m divided between 19 summer Olympic sportsexternal-link but insisted that did not mean Team GB could not continue to make improvements.

"We'll never be topping the table with the Russians and Canadians, but we can make gains and that is what our investment principles are based on," she said.

Having achieved a bronze medal and a record six top-10 finishes, the British freestyle skiing and snowboarding team are well placed for a significant increase on the £1.5m they have received since 2012.

"We have big plans on how we can develop and grow the freestyle programme and are hopeful UK Sport will help invest in that alongside commercial partners," Lesley McKenna, British Park and Pipe programme manager, told BBC Sport.

The British bobsleigh duo of Paula Walker and Rebekah Wilson were the only team to miss their UK Sport performance target, finishing 12th when seeking a top-eight result.

However, the men's four-man bobsleigh came an impressive fifth, just 0.11 seconds off the podium.

GB Bobsleigh performance director Gary Anderson is hopeful that the set-up - which received £3.3m leading into Sochi and has invested heavily in new technology - will continue to be backed.

"We are only halfway through an eight-year programme and with support through to 2018 I'm convinced we can challenge for not just one medal, but in all three events [men's two- and four-man and women's two-man bob]," he told BBC Sport.

UK Sport recently axed funding for basketball, synchronised swimming, water polo and weightlifting but Nicholl insisted this announcement was not related to the performances of winter sport athletes in Sochi.

It will now enter a series of meetings with officials from all British Winter Olympic disciplines about performance targets over the next four years and reveal its decision in June.

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