Jennifer Osborne competes at Winter University Games.

Picture by Platform4 Photography.
Picture by Platform4 Photography.

From the 11th to the 21st of December over 2,500 student athletes representing 59 countries competed in the prestigious Winter Universiade, which was hosted in Trentino, Italy. The competition was won overwhelmingly by a formidable and dominant Russia who won double the medals of 2nd placed Poland who themselves were run very close by South Korea. Team GBR’s only medal came from the Men’s curling team who registered silver after being beaten by a classy Sweden side in the finals, the Women’s curling team were unlucky not to medal after being beaten in the Semi-final after a strong campaign. Results in cross country skiing, Ice hockey and Snowboarding proved hard to come by in a field of world class talent and experience which was displayed at this huge competition. To understand how important University Sport is to the national team you need only consider that, over the last 20 years 61% of Team GB Olympic medallists have been to University, and developed their talents at international student competitions.

Strathclyde student Jennifer Osborne competed in the Women’s snowboard cross and finished in 20th place overall, in an extremely difficult competition full of international experience, the eventual winner was Eva Samkova, a Czech who was competing straight off the back of winning a World Cup earlier in December. Though Jennifer feels she was capable of better performances, the experience of competing at the 2nd biggest global winter-multisport event in the world was, in her words, “Exceptional, it was so different to the other competitions I’ve done”. As a regular in the British Snowboard cross team Jennifer competes frequently in European competitions throughout the calendar, she explains that though she’s used to high standards in races, the Winter University games stood out as special.

“In a lot of the competitions I do you see a lot of the same people every time, this was very different with a lot of international competitors I’d never raced against. The level that a lot of these people are operating on is so high; the Czech who won the snowboard cross has already won 2 out of 4 World Cups this season. The atmosphere and feeling around Trentino was great though, the opening ceremony was held in the town square and the streets were full with all of the athletes, coaches and spectators, it was amazing”

Jennifer expresses that she was fortunate to have even made the games, after undergoing surgery in the summer which laid her off training for 3 months.
“Because of the surgery- and a few problems with a lack of snow- I felt I didn’t get as good a pre-season in as I would have liked, we were actually unsure whether I’d be fit and ready in time for Trentino, luckily I managed to recover in time and I’m so glad to have made it. The course I raced was less technical to the ones I usually do but it was faster too, which I found quite difficult. Unfortunately my two qualifying times weren’t enough to get me through, I know I could have got a better time but ultimately I’m proud to have represented Britain at this level”

A part time student of forensic chemistry, Jennifer credits Strathclyde’s support in allowing her to balance Snowboarding with Study to her success, adding
“Without the University supporting me as they do I wouldn’t be where I am, and they’ve been so accommodating with my schedule, which is of course demanding. And I’m grateful to have their continued support as I study toward my degree and as I keep competing at the level I do”

After taking some time to snowboard recreationally after Trentino, Jennifer will now resume training ahead of a host of competitions which are already lining her diary, the first of which is in February. She will take encouragement and confidence from her selection as a bona fide British athlete, and will look to carry her exceptional talent into the next round of races.
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