Three Years On – SDA Academy Highlights

The GreenPower/SDA Academy has proved to be a resounding success in its first three years.

Dave Munro, Secretary of the SDA said “with the invaluable support of the GreenPower team we have ‘trail blazed’ new ground in the mountain bike world and the Academy is the envy of some and the admiration of thousands”.

The SDA’s desire to introduce more Downhill Mountain Bikers to a structured and tailored coaching process combined well with the desire of GreenPower to see their sponsorship help establish a sound legacy for the future of the sport in Scotland.

The SDA consider their approach to rider selection has been an important factor in the Academy’s success.  From the outset the main objective and selection criteria was to identify those riders that the SDA Committee felt would benefit the most from coaching and to help them exceed their own personal goals.  On this basis the 12 riders (both male and female) were drawn from each of the Senior, Juvenile, Youth and Junior age categories.

Of the 12 riders who were selected in 2014/15 :

5 have competed and obtained a podium result; 3 of these results were at National Level and one female rider secured a 1st place.  One of the Junior riders now competes at Expert Level and 2 riders are in National Trade Teams.  All 12 riders have improved their best results since attending the Academy in 2014/15.

Rob Forrest, CEO is pictured with the first 12 riders selected for the Academy

Of the 12 riders who were selected in 2015/16;

7 have competed and obtained a podium result; 5 of those were at National Level with 5 results being a first place.  One of the Juvenile riders became the Scottish Juvenile National Champion and 4 riders are now in National Trade Teams.  Once again all 12 riders have achieved their best result since attending the Academy.

Perhaps a little premature to comment on the 2016/17 riders as the season is still underway, however, some of the early indications are promising.  To date there have been 5 first places and 2 riders have been selected to join National Trade Teams.  All of the riders have achieved a top 10 in their first 3 races with the SDA Series which, for some, is an achievement itself.

Dave believes “The Academy’s approach to selection has been rightly justified and we know that those who have attended training have been ‘blown away’ by this life changing experience. Some of our younger selectees will be World Cup riders of the future and directly we will have influenced their development with their attendance at the Academy.”

Ruaridh Cunningham instructing at the SDA Academy

For the first 3 years the coaching was undertaken by the Team at Dirt School; based in the Scottish Borders they are the first training establishment to receive accreditation and each year they run an intensive course which leads to a suite of qualifications at SCQF Level 6.  They are recognised as one of the premier coaching establishments in the UK and our students have been fortunate to have been taught by the 2007 Junior World Champion and current World Cup rider Ruaridh Cunningham. From 2017 the training will be provided by another training platform, established and managed by the current Scottish National Champion and World Cup rider Ben Cathro, founder of Sick Skills. This appointment allows us to spread not just the training but the high standard of Scottish coaching skills throughout the country.

The SDA is sharing the experience of the Academy with Scottish Cycling, the governing body of the sport, in response to their recognition that it is a role model for other associations and disciplines to learn from.