December 19 - With past competitors including Olympic champions Jessica Ennis-Hill and Amy Williams, Universiades are a fundamental stepping stone for many athletes with aspirations of competing at the highest level, according to Trentino 2013 Chef de Mission Neil Rogers.
Ennis-Hill won heptathlon bronze at the 2005 Summer Universiade in Izmir, Turkey, before going on to claim a World Championship title in 2009 and gold at London 2012, while Williams competed at the 2005 Winter Universiade in Innsbruck, taking skeleton silver before going on to take gold at Vancouver 2010.
Speaking to insidethegames, Rogers believes that the likes of Ennis-Hill and Williams, along with other past Universiade competitors, such as London 2012 silver medallists Gemma Gibbons and Michael Jamieson, are role models for university athletes in Britain and demonstrate the important role that the biennial events play in developing future champions, a key focus of British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS).
"That is very much a fundamental objective," said Rogers, head of international programmes at BUCS.
"Our key objective would be to work with the national governing bodies (NGBs) to place the Universiade events into their pathway for their performance athletes so that this becomes part of their upward trajectory towards Olympic or senior World Championship representation.
"I think it is worth noting that in many instances the performance standard at Universiades is comparable or in many cases exceeds that of Commonwealth events and we see a lot of value and positive feedback from NGBs regarding Universiade events which are a fantastic opportunity to expose athletes to a multi-sport international environment for the first time."
After attending the last three Universiades; Kazan 2013, Shenzhen 2011 and Erzurum 2011 as deputy Chef de Mission, Rogers is in charge of the British delegation here at the 26th Winter Universide, which includes 55 athletes and 23 staff.
With the exception of curling, Britain has failed to trouble the podium in any events, but Rogers insists that the team as a whole has performed to expectations and that coming here was as much about each athlete reaching their full potential as climbing the medal table.
"We are very much on target," Rogers told insidethegames.
"The men's and women's ice hockey, cross-country skiing and snowboard athletes have done broadly as expected.
"We are very pleased with Tom Banks sixth place finish in the snowboard cross competition, that was a particular highlight.
"But for BUCS, the true valuation and worth of the Games won't be purely based on medals.
"Our key objective is to improve the student experience through sport so we would consider a successful event to be one where each of the athletes has met their own aspirations and expectations and come away from the event having felt it was a valuable and worthwhile opportunity to develop themselves as part of their own personal pathway."
The one group of British athletes who have been "performing to expectations", according to Rogers, and are also challenging for medals, are the men's and women's curling teams, who were in semi-final action here today at Baselga di Pine.
The women's team of Abigail Brown, Jennifer Dodds, Hannah Fleming, Lauren Gray and Alice Spence lost out to a strong Russia side in their semi-final before narrowly missing out on bronze against Switzerland.
The men's team of Kyle Smith, Cameron Smith, Derrick Sloan, Kyle Waddell and Thomas Muirhead secured an impressive win over Canada however, and are through to the final where they will take on Sweden.
At Erzurum 2011, Britain's women took the Universiade title and three of that side - Vicki Adams, Claire Hamilton and Anna Sloan - will be in Sochi next year representing Team GB at the 2014 Winter Olympics while Michael Goodfellow and Greg Drummond are also heading to Russia as part of the men's team, with both having performed with distinction in Erzurum also.
Rogers believes Britain's current crop of curlers here have every chance of making that step-up to elite international level too and following their predecessors from 2011.
"I think in particular, the members of the men's and women's curling squads clearly have the potential to progress in the next Olympic cycles to the senior team," he said.
"If you look at Erzurum 2011, three of the girls that got the gold and two of the men's team will be in Sochi so that is a wonderful throught.
"It's 50 per cent of the curling athletes that came to Erzurum are now, three years later, part of the Olympic team.
"Certainly, for British curling, this event forms part of the pathway for future elite curlers."
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