Some of the biggest names in alpine skiing came together during a parliamentary reception last week to honour the incredible successes of Scotland’s skiers and the support of the Highland communities to the sport.
The event was held at the Scottish Parliament with the support of 18 MSPs including Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, Shona Robison, who said:
“The success of the team will only help raise awareness of skiing in Scotland and the excellent facilities we have around the country.
“The Scottish ski team is an inspiration to other Scottish athletes ahead of an important time for sport in this country, with the London Olympics less than 100 days away and the Commonwealth Games taking place in Glasgow in 2014. They have achieved global recognition in what has been one of the Scottish ski team's best ever seasons.”
The Scottish Ski team is celebrating a landmark year, enjoying a succession of wins this season, particularly from its younger athletes, who dominated the podium at the Great British Alpine Ski Championships in Meribel earlier this month.
One of those young winners was eighteen year old skier Alexandra Tilley from Aberdeenshire who swept the board at the ladies event, winning all four disciplines – a feat not achieved since Chemmy Alcott was at the top of her game four years ago.
A significant portion of the GB skiing team is made up of athletes from the Scottish Ski Team. In the past GB skiers have included Alain Baxter, perhaps Britain’s most recognisable male skier and the highest ranked, as well as his brother Noel and Finlay Mickel, who is the country’s fastest downhill skier.
Currently, Charlie Guest, Alexandra Tilley, Christy MacKinnon, Alistair Stang, Noel Baxter and Dougie Crawford represent Scotland and Great Britain. At junior level Scotland has 11 members on the GB team, who have progressed through the Focused Alpine Ski Training (FAST) programme.
Scotland is perfectly place to develop skiing talent as it is home to top quality indoor and outdoor skiing facilities, including; Hillend, which is the longest dry ski slope in Europe, Xscape indoor facility at Braehead, Glasgow, as well as a range of dry ski slopes and ski centres in the Highlands which include Cairngorm, Glenshee, Nevis Range, the Lecht and Glencoe.
Speaking on the evening was Head Coach Ross Gardner who said: “Our athletes undergo a gruelling training regime for 365 days of the year, demonstrating true commitment and dedication to their sport. Our recent results are very well deserved and way above what is generally expected from a lowland nation, and to see so many talented Scottish skiers progressing into the British team is fantastic. We have the knowledge, experience and initiatives for success – and coupled with the support of the Scottish ski facilities, clubs and Sport Scotland, we could achieve our ultimate aim which is to be on the podium at the 2014 Winter Olympics.”
Gordon Ritchie, Head of Fund Raising for the Scottish Ski Team said: “It was a fantastic evening and we were overwhelmed by support from the MSPs who attended. The team athletes and coaches greatly appreciated the time that the politicians took to meet with them and hear about the results they have produced throughout the winter season. We would also like to thank Dave Thomson MSP for sponsoring and inviting us to Parliament.”
The inaugural event was sponsored by Dave Thompson MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, whose constituency covers an area key to the Scottish ski industry; The Cairngorms, Glencoe and Nevis Range, and who knows the valuable contribution the sport makes to support local rural economies.
Snowsport Scotland is the National Governing Body for snowsport and provides the support and infrastructure to enable the success of the Scottish team.
Further information can be found on www.snowsportscotland.org