For most 18 year olds who set out to do a winter as a seasonaire the ambition of becoming a professional skier, exploring the biggest mountains with some of the world’s best athletes, is something of a pipe dream.
But for Jim Adlington, who grew up in the UK and learnt to ski on a dry ski slope in Kidsgrove, the dream became reality. After moving to Val d’Isere in the late Nineties for his first winter season Adlington shaped a career in snow sports, gaining sponsorship from Salomon, Oakley and Vans. He founded Planks Clothing in 2009 and 20 years later Adlington is still at the helm of Planks, one of the UK’s leading snow-sports brands.
Since its launch Planks and Adlington have shown continued support to the British snow sports scene; and now they are preparing to kit out some of the country’s best athletes in a new partnership with GB Snowsport during the upcoming winter season.
As part of the deal, athletes and coaches from a number of Great Britain’s national squads, including Park and Pipe, Ski and Snowboard Cross and Para Snowboard, will be wearing the latest Planks outerwear.
“In many ways Planks and GB Snowsport are on a parallel journey. We’ve both started as the small guys, trying to punch above our weight and we’re both now starting to enjoy international success despite Britain not being regarded by most as a snow-sport nation,” said Adlington.
“We’re incredibly excited by the partnership we’ve developed with GB Snowsport and are really looking forward to being a part of their success on the world stage.”
Like its new clothing provider, the GB Snowsport team has seen a slow but steady rise in success in recent years. Following Jenny Jones’ bronze medal in snowboard slopestyle at the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014, UK snow sport athletes have continued to grab the spotlight.
An increase in funding spurred on talent development, and in 2018 Team GB took its largest ever team of skiers and snowboarders to the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. The team returned home with its biggest ever medal haul, including bronze for snowboarder Billy Morgan in snowboard big air and bronze for Izzy Atkin in ski slopestyle.
“The values which saw the creation of Planks are exactly what we embody at GB Snowsport so it’s fantastic that this great British brand has agreed to come with us on our exciting journey,” said Vicky Gosling, CEO of GB Snowsport.
“They’re not only one of the most fashionable brands in the mountains, they’re also continually adapting their products to ensure their range is functional and meets the needs of the world’s best.”
The new partnership is the latest milestone for the brand, which started out producing t-shirts and beanies before branching into men’s outerwear then women’s. Its kit, over half of which is made using recycled fabric, is now sold in 10 countries in Europe, North America and the southern hemisphere.
GB Snowsport’s James ‘Woodsy’ Woods has been one of the brands leading sponsored athletes and for the past three years has designed his own signature clothing range, with a new collection set to launch this coming winter. Planks also sponsors a number of British companies including The Warren Smith Ski Academy.
“Since establishing Planks, the shift in the industry has exceeded all of my expectations. Freestyle is now a World Cup sport and takes centre stage at the Winter Olympics; terrain parks are dominated by young skiers and the emergence of backcountry freestyle has been remarkable,” said Adlington.
The news of the partnership comes as GB Snowsports reveals the GB Park and Pipe squads for the upcoming winter season, made up of nearly 40 athletes. Alongside familiar faces such as James Woods and Izzy Atkin on the ski team are newcomers Zoe Atkin, Izzy’s younger sister, Connie Brogden and Kirsty Muir. Also returning to the team are Tyler Harding, Madi Rowlands and Katie Summerhayes.
On the snowboard team Winter Olympians Billy Morgan, Jamie Nicholls and Rowan Coultas will be returning to the competitive circuit with Team GB for another season. Joining them will be Katie Ormerod, who returns from the catastrophic heel injury that saw her pull out of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Snowboarder Mia Brookes becomes the youngest member of the ‘A’ squad at just 12 years old; she’s joined by fellow newcomers Fin Bremner and Gabe Adams.
In another step to further its growth Planks is currently crowdfunding, offering supporters the chance to invest in its continued development. The Powder Days Raise campaign, which is running on Crowdcube, has already surpassed its £300,000 target with a week left to go.
More than 200 people have already invested £328,400 and, depending on their contribution, will receive benefits ranging from discounts on the latest clothing collection to an invitation to the annual investor ski trip with the company’s founders.
The brand has also recently announced the return of its annual Grassroots Tour, which is now in its third year. As well as a tour of the UK’s local dry ski slopes and indoor snow centres with its sponsored athletes, Planks’ Grassroots competition encourages passionate British skiers and snowboarders to enter their photographs and videos to be in with a chance of winning a bundle of Planks kit.
The photography contest is judged in a number of categories including best park, best freeride and most stoked. The video contest, for which entrants upload a 60 second edit, sees winners in categories such as best trick, best female edit and best under 16 edit – all of which will be announced at an awards ceremony at The Telegraph Ski & Snowboard Festival in London’s Battersea Park this October.
The Festival is a landmark event for the British snow-sports industry, and Planks is one of the leading exhibitors. A number of the team’s athletes attend the four-day event each year, alongside other leading snow-sport athletes who demonstrate their skills on the Festival’s 50-foot kicker built in the middle of Battersea Park. Visitors will be able to shop the latest range from Planks and meet their Team GB heroes. Tickets are on sale now.