History graduate makes Winter Olympics team

A freestyle skier who graduated in history at The University of Manchester last year has been selected by team GB to compete in next month’s Winter Olympics.

Twenty-four year-old Peter Speight, from Sheffield, will compete on 20 February in the daunting halfpipe competition - when competitors perform a series of death-defying tricks while skiing down a steep slope scooped out of the snow.

He hopes to put the disappointment of 2014 behind him after series of injuries, including a broken collar bone and knee problems, ended his chances of qualifying for the Sochi Winter Olympics

Speight, who was supported by University of Manchester Sports Scholar scheme juggled his study with training and competing around the world as a full time athlete for Great Britain.

He was awarded the University’s Sportsman of the Year in 2016 and has been achieving top 20 finishes all year, but attaining his best ever result in China last month, finishing fourth.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted to have qualified which has capped off an amazing season; my best and busiest yet.

“It was a tough time when a run of injuries knocked me out of skiing for 18 months, but unfortunately this is happens in halfpipe skiing, as it is an extreme sport.

“ In the end I came back stronger and it all seems well in the past now. It was great to be able to continue at Manchester through this time off snow. It was a hectic time but I like being busy and thrived off having a lot going on”

I am absolutely delighted to have qualified which has capped off an amazing season; my best and busiest yet
Peter Speight

Unlike winter sports heavyweights, like Russia and Canada, the UK is not renowned for its snowy weather, even in winter.

So Peter had to learn to ski on the dry slopes of his native city at Sheffield Ski Village from 12 years old.

He added: “In 2013, I made the British team, debuted in my first finals at an international competition and really moved up in my sport.

“This was also my first year at the University of Manchester and the Sport Department was really helpful, helping me to juggle my studies and competing.

“I’d like to thank the Sport and history department for all they have done to help me compete at the highest level.”

Dr Max Jones, one of his lecturers from the history department, said: He said: “We’re delighted Peter has been given the chance to show the world just what he’s capable of and wish him the best of luck in the competition.

“His ability to balance his studies and gruelling training schedule are testament to his commitment to his sport and passion to excel in everything that he does.

“We are extremely proud of him: he’s is a great role model for our students.”

“We are extremely proud of Pete both during his time at University and his progress since graduation, it is fantastic.

Imogen Greatbatch, Performance Sport and Business Development Manager at The University of Manchester said: “Peter is a wonderful role model to aspiring dual career athletes and his successful selection is testament to the hard work and effort he has invested in his sport.

“We wish him the best of luck at the games and will be following his progress keenly.”

Share this release