Family ski trips to Austria and dry slopes in Sheffield introduced Pete Speight to the freestyle skiing scene, and by 18 he was competing in the European World Cup. A Sports Scholarship at Manchester University challenged Pete to juggle getting a degree and skiing professionally, and he is now perusing his dream to become the world’s best half pipe skier full-time!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your skiing?
I’ve been competing world cup level for four years now, and I started really going for it at 17 when I left school. It’s going well for me at the moment! I’ve had a good summer in New Zealand, and I’m learning a lot of new tricks. I’m in the thick of it, really.
What’s a typical day of training for you?
It depends massively on where we are. If you’re in the UK, you’re on a bit of a break from skiing so gym work becomes really important. A typical day on the slopes will be: get up at 6am, breakfast, coffee, ski from 8am-12pm, practice half pipe or jumps, work on whatever you want to get out of the day.
Your main event is the half pipe. How did you get into that?
When I was learning to ski as a teenager I used to do everything, but half pipe emerged as the thing I was best at, so I decided that this was the thing I was going to compete in. I did my first half pipe competition at 17 at the European Open in Laax, Switzerland. It went better than expected, so I decided half pipe was going to be my thing and I targeted it from then on.
How did you find studying at University and skiing alongside each other?
For me, it was mixed. There was a huge benefit for skiing – I got a sports scholarship for Manchester, then made the step up to a serious level. The support I got from there was really important in that. I also had a couple of injuries whilst I was in uni, so it was really good to have the distraction of studying at that time and I had all my mates there and just a lot going on. When I was in second year, I was fully fit and completing in the World Cup Circuit and that was really challenging. But both went well in the end!
What would you say to someone who wanted to start skiing? Any inspirational tips?
I think it takes patience – it takes time to learn a sport, and freestyle skiing isn’t the most natural sport (especially in the UK). Take it a year at a time, make sure you’re enjoying it and getting what you want out of it, because that’s going to help you in the long run. As long as you’re enjoying it and doing it for personal reasons, then you’ll keep on doing it. If you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, you’ll give up. Work out what’s best for you, and realise it takes time.
Any other hobbies or interests apart from skiing?
History was my degree, and I’m a bit of a nerd with that. I used to play jazz trumpet in school, which was pretty cool! I’m a big football fan – Arsenal is my club.
What’s your favourite place to hang out in London?
When I was a kid, we used to go to The Captain Kidd Pub along the river (E1W 2NE). I was born in Wapping, and they did good fish and chips there. I visited there a few years ago, and it’s a really cool place. It’s one of the warehouses along the Thames, and it’s 3 floors high and it overlooks the river. That’s my favourite spot.
Delancey are proud to be headline sponsor of British Ski and Snowboard (BSS), which is the National Governing Body for Skiing and Snowboarding in the UK. They provide incredible opportunities for athletes to achieve their full potential in the sport – both as individuals, and as a team. Stay tuned over the coming weeks as we meet more young members of BSS.