Winter Sports and winter sports

This week marks the switch from the summer to the winter sport season in the UK. Rugby League, which successfully re-invented itself as a summer sport a few years ago, has had its showpiece end of season finale, the Carnegie Challenge cup. Meanwhile Durham have won the LV County Championship for the first time. The football season, naturally, has been underway for months. 

British sports fans may be less aware, however, that this time of year also sees the start of the Winter Sport season in the northern hemisphere. Yes, that’s right, snow and ice.

Ice hockey’s NHL opened up on 4 October and runs through to May. Leagues in Europe follow a similar timetable. The outdoor Winter Sport season follows a little later with the first significant alpine skiing events at the end of October.

Media coverage of ice hockey, skiing, skating and the rest is limited in the UK due to a combination of low awareness and a lack of British contenders. It’s a shame to miss out on some really compelling sport but I don’t expect to see a dramatic increase in coverage any time soon as geography and tradition pose significant barriers. And yet I can’t help thinking that there may be a sponsorship opportunity to be seized. 

Those British athletes with a medal chance at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games (now only a year and a half away) will receive more individual attention than each of the dozens of successful athletes in Beijing. If a sponsor out there is brave enough, the rewards could be considerable. Now is the time to act, while the media profile is low. Anyone for curling or skeleton bob?

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