English Schools’ Ski Association (ESSKIA) National Artificial Slope Championships 2018

Following successful training days for schools in 6 ski centres throughout the country during the Summer Term, race invitations were sent out to schools at the end of May. 

Qualifying races took place on Sunday 16th September at Welwyn, Chatham, Southampton, Gloucester, Stoke and Sunderland. 209 school teams from 81 schools raced in four age categories for places in the National Finals at the Norfolk Ski Centre, Norwich in October. 

The standard of racing was very varied wherever the races were held as racers from school years 3 – 13 took part. The winning boys’ team and girls’ team in each age category automatically qualify for the Finals and there are also places awarded to those teams who come a close second or even third. As always it was very difficult to select schools for these places but then, that is the nature of competition and ski racing. After careful deliberation and checking 72 teams will now take part in the age group finals. 

39 teams have also declared an entry for the Open Championship this year. This is a separate competition for skiers in Years 7 and above and as well as competing for the National team trophy, prizes are awarded to the individuals finishing in the top 3 places. This competition is also the qualification race for the British Dry Slope Schools’ Championships which are taking place in Scotland this year at Hillend, near Edinburgh. England has an allocation of 12 girls’ teams and 11 boys’ teams, based on the results of last year’s Championships at Pontypool in Wales. With Scotland having 8 teams, and Wales 6, we are hoping that our English teams emerge victorious, but quantity does not always mean quality and the opposition is certainly not to be underestimated, especially on a slope like Hillend! 

This year is an historic occasion as it is the 50th anniversary of the British Dry Slope Ski Championship race which was started up by the Scottish Ski Association and held at Hillend. 

In the meanwhile, a panel of ESSKIA selectors must get together to compare the results of the individual racers who took part in the qualifying races and choose who should receive invitations to the annual ESSKIA Squad training camps. The Primary Squad go to Landgraaf, the Junior Squad to Pila, and two Senior Squads to Geilo. Apart from the qualifier results, consideration is given to performance on previous race camps, attitude, organisational skills and general skiing ability, not to mention results in other ski races. The camp managers are in most cases very experienced teachers, with a lot of expertise in schools’ skiing and pastoral care of the different age groups, as well as a wider experience and knowledge of the ski racing scene at all levels. We are looking forward to welcoming back previous squad members as well as the usual number of new recruits in the different age groups.

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