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Stars launch Schools Snowports Week - Jane Peel, Hemel Hempstead
Friday April 22, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

What do a British Winter Olympian and an X Factor finalist have in common? The answer is that they both want to get more kids onto the snow.

GB Park and Pipe snowboarder, Aimee Fuller, and the singer, Stacey Solomon, were at The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead today at the start of the inaugural National Schools Snowsport Week, run by Snowsport England.

Stacey and AimeeStacey and Aimee















Aimee and Stacey, who was a competitor in the Channel 4 series The Jump in 2015, are ambassadors for the event, which the organisers hope will become a regular fixture.

More than 20 indoor and dry slopes across England are taking part, offering skiing and snowboarding sessions and other activities for school pupils.

As well as free taster lessons for complete beginners, many of the slopes involved are running cheap race and freestyle sessions over an eight-day period until 29th April.

Hundreds of pupils of all ages are expected to join in. 

One slope, in Sunderland, has more than 200 children signed up for its sessions.

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On day one at The Snow Centre, pupils from a primary school in London met and posed for photos with the celebrity ambassadors,  before taking to the snow on skis and snowboards.

Stacey Solomon brought her two sons, eight-year-old Zachary, and Leighton, who's four, along.

They'd skied only once before, when they were with their mum during her time on The Jump.

Stacey with ZacharyStacey with Zachary














"There was no way I was coming and not bringing them," Stacey told PlanetSKI.  "What a lovely thing to do. Why would you sit at home and play computer games when you can do this".

Stacey, who'd skied just twice before doing The Jump, and whose snowboarding is - in her own words - "questionable",  is passionate about National Schools Snowsport Week.

"I really wanted to get involved in this campaign because I'd love people to realise it's much more accessible than it used to be," she told us.

"We were a normal family.  My parents had average low-paid jobs and three children and we just couldn't afford to all go to the ski centre then.

"My parents would have been so pleased to have something like this.  It was something they wanted us to experience.

"To have it subsidised like this makes it more accessible".

Passing on tipsPassing on tips














Aimee Fuller, who was spotted giving Stacey some valuable snowboarding tips, is just as enthusiastic about introducing the sport to children from all backgrounds.

"There's no other thing like it.  It's fun, fast, exciting," she told PlanetSKI.

"Not only does it keep you fit and healthy, but it keeps you fit and healthy and you don't realise it.  And it's not just a sport for people with lots of money.  Anyone can do it.

"The majority of the GB Park and Pipe team at elite level came up through the dry slopes.  You don't need a lot of money to do it at the grass roots level.  It isn't out of bounds".

Until three years ago, pupils from Larmenier and Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School in Hammersmith in West London had not had the opportunity to ski on a regular basis.

Now, thanks to one of their teachers introducing them to the sport at their local centre, Skiplex Chiswick,  the school has a squad of 24 avid skiers, aged seven to 11. 

Another 37 pupils are just beginning to learn. 

Pupils on the snow at HemelPupils on the snow at Hemel













Some of the school's regulars took to the slope at Hemel to show off their newly-learned skills.

Dominic McGonigal, chair of the Youth Development Committee at Snowsport England, told us there was a need to attract more young people.

Dominic McGonigalDominic McGonigal













"I think there's a feeling that this is a sport that should be a lot more popular than it is," he said.

"We have got one million Brits going to the Alps every year, and how many people do we get skiing regularly in the UK?

"There are a lot of people who think skiing is what you do one week of the year in winter whereas you can do it all year round, and it's a great sport for schools."

Snowsport England hope this inaugural event will whet the appetite and encourage more schools to introduce their pupils to the joys of skiing and snowboarding. 

Formation snowploughFormation snowplough














National Schools Snowsport WeekNational Schools Snowsport Week




















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Snowsport England National Schools Snowsport Week is supported by Visit Andorra and school tour operator Equity

Participating slopes:

Ackers Adventure, Birmingham

Alpine Snowsports Centre, Southampton  

Bracknell Ski and Snowboard Centre

Chatham Ski and Snowboard Centre

Chill Factore, Manchester

Gosling Ski and Board Centre

Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre

Impulse Racing (at The Snow Centre, Hemel)

Mendip Snowsports Centre

Plymouth Ski and Snowboard Centre

Silksworth Ski Slope, Sunderland

Ski Rossendale

Ski Torquay

Skiplex Chiswick

Skiplex Reading

Skiplex Basingstoke

SnowDome, Tamworth

Stoke Ski Centre

Suffolk Ski Centre

Swadlincote Ski and Snowboard Centre

The Snow Centre/ Hemel Ski Race Club

For more information visit  and on Twitter @SnowsportEng  #SchoolSnowsport

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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