Academy skiers have winter to remember

Alford Academy skiers on the slopes.
Alford Academy skiers on the slopes.

Alford Academy’s skiers have had a fantastic season, with lots to celebrate and plenty of excellent memories to treasure.

Even before the snow arrived, the season got off to a cracking start when, on November 27, 2013, the Alford Academy ski team packed up their skis and headed down to Xscape, the indoor ski arena at Braehead, Glasgow, to compete in the Scottish Schools Indoor Ski/Boarder Cross Secondary Championships.

With over 100 competitors from 27 school teams across Scotland, there was tough competition for a small secondary school like Alford.

Nothing daunted, the team gave a fantastic performance on a race course which incorporated tight banked corners, jumps and fast rollers. Tabby Allan won the female skier category, with Rhiannon Taylor coming in sixth place.

Leon Daley gave an exceptional effort in the male boarder category, also coming in sixth place.

The male skier category contained 63 participants, a daunting challenge but Callum Duff secured ninth place and Daniel Bellarby literally skied his ski off – a determined effort but unlucky for Daniel, since parting company with his ski partway down the course landed him in 59th place.

As well as individual competitions, there was a team prize which combined the highest ranking in a category. The Alford team had no idea how well they would be placed overall, so they were amazed and delighted to learn that they had come third out of the 27 schools competing. It was a great day out and the team would like to pass on their sincere thanks to Laura Murray and Mel Allan, who made the day happen, and to Mrs Milne for supporting the team.

The next big event in the school’s ski calendar was the Academy Ski & Snowboard Trip to the French Alps in January.

This is the third time running that pupils from Alford Academy have had the opportunity to ski the Alpe d’Huez resort. Miss Macfarlane, who organised and led the trip, commented: “This vast ski area is ideal for challenging our pupils, all of whom have prior skiing experience, since they all learn to ski as part of their PE curriculum, using the dry ski slope situated right next to the school.”

This year the group benefitted from excellent snow conditions and a week of sunny blue skies. With the help of great ski instructors, everyone felt their skiing came on in leaps and bounds – and for some the whole experience was also an invaluable boost to their self confidence.

February saw the next phase of more serious competitions start up again, with the Scottish Schools Alpine Series taking place at all the Scottish ski centres. Alford Academy pupils competed first of all at the Lecht Ski Centre in the qualifying races, held on February 11.

The teams included pupils competing in every category: girls’ novice, boys’ novice, girls’ experienced, boys’ experienced, the novice team and finally the experienced team. The pupils taking part managed to wipe the board, with wins in every category entered and a grand total of six first and three second places!

The team then went on to the finals of the series, held at Cairngorm on March 13. Tabby Allan (S2) took first place in the “Experienced Girls” category at the Lecht.

The team had a great day at the Cairngorms, with the experienced Skiers team placed 4th in Scotland and a special mention for Kirstie Birnie (S2), who came in joint second in the Novice category. Congratulations to all in the team.