Geyer's Olympic dreams hinge on finding backer
SKI racer Jai Geyer has to find a sponsor in a hurry if he is going to keep his Olympic hopes alive.
Geyer, who is 22 and lives in Ipplepen, is just about to start his third winter slalom racing on the British team.
Financial constraints mean Geyer won't be based with the GB squad this winter – with the management's blessing he has hooked up with the French Orsatus squad which is a considerably cheaper option.
British team members get virtually no cash help from British Ski and Snowboard these days and have to find around £20,000 a year to compete.
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Geyer still owes money on last season's campaign and unless a sponsor comes forward soon his international career could slither to a halt.
"To go to the 2014 Olympics in Solchi I need to be among the top three in this country – and I believe I can achieve that," said Geyer, who is currently snow training for the season ahead on the Grand Motte glacier in Tignes, France.
"It will stretch me to my limits, but I am sure I can do it.
"The timescale is pretty tight as the Solchi Olympics are only 18 months away.
"To get the FIS points I need as evidence I can compete at that level, I need a good season. And to get through it I need a sponsor.
"If I can't find a sponsor it will be almost impossible for me to carry on."
Racers don't see much change from £20,000 for a full training and competition season, which means finding a backer.
Torquay Alpine Ski Club, where Geyer has been a member since the age of eight, as helped him in the past, as have a number of organisations in South Devon.
Geyer said it is no use waiting for the Pyeongchang Olympics in South Korea as be won't get there if he doesn't go to Solchi.
"Skiers tend to reach their peak around 28-30 and by 2018 I will be 28 and in my prime," said Geyer.
"But I have no chance of getting a sponsor or any funding if I don't get to Solchi.
"Sponsors want to be associated with Olympic success – and as we saw last summer many athletes were on four-year agreements leading up to London.
"If I don't go to Solchi it will be very hard to convince anyone to back me for Pyeongchang."
If a sponsor can be found for the winter ahead, Geyer has a plan worked out to maximise his chances.
His priority is to get his FIS points ranking down to 25 in his main disciplines, giant slalom and super G.
"Last season I was running at 37 with a best of 33," said Geyer, If I can get down to 25 then I will make by target of top three in the country.
"Great Britain will send four athletes to Salachi. The way it works though is if I qualify in the slalom I can enter the Super G as well."
Geyer will be based in the French town of Brides les Bains this winter, travelling all over Europe to compete.
He is the only Brit in the team, which is run by former French racer and Olympian Joel Chenal. Fortunately, Geyer passed his French AS-level while studying at Torquay Boys' Grammar School.
It might seem an odd arrangement, but Geyer said his decision to go private makes a financial sense.
"There is a big saving in fees, but the quality of the training and the type of races is the same," said Geyer.
"The main thing is to do well on hills where the races count for FIS point."
Geyer is spending two weeks in Tignes working up his race pace, then taking a fortnight out to coach aspiring racers in Les Deux Alpes for the British Ski Academy. The fee income will come in handy.
Then it will be time to focus on the early season events, which could be in northern Italy or the ultra-high French resort of Val Thorens, where early snow is guaranteed.