After successfully qualifying at the Open Championships in Norwich at the ESSKIA English National Finals in October, this weekend saw the Eltham A team travel to sunny Pontypool in Wales for the British finals. The top schools from England, Scotland and Wales were all competing to be crowned the best school ski team in Britain.
We departed Eltham College on Saturday morning to make the long journey to the Wales. Upon arriving, it was straight to the ski slope for an open practice session in dark and stereotypically drizzly conditions. After several runs, the team seemed to be getting to grips with the long, bumpy and challenging slope. After a good night’s rest, the team headed off early to the slope for the competition. After course inspection, the boys were all feeling confident and excited for the race. The team bond that has built up over the past few years shone through as they encouraged and helped one another throughout the day.
With Matthew McCool first out of the gate, he had an excellent start pushing his limits a little too far. However, he showed excellent recovery skills which meant he was still able to post a reasonable time. Next up was Diaco Abrishami. With the pressure of the team needing three fast times to be competitive, Diaco came flying out of the gate, looking to be one of the fastest times of the day. Also pushing himself, a slight mistake meant he didn’t get the time he deserved, however it was still a competitive run on the day. Theo Austin followed, showing a composure beyond his years seeing as he was one of the youngest competitors and dealt with the pressure commendably, achieving a clean run and a competitive time. After a great show of support for his team mates, Fergus Bidwell was next up. He had already shown a fantastic commitment by stepping in last minute for an injured team mate, Ben Hummel and threw himself into the course with great determination to put down a fast time. Unfortunately, the risky line he took, meant, like many competitors before him, got caught out in the tricky section of the course.
During the break between runs, the boys discussed their first runs with coach Emily Evans and race team manager Mr Hindocha and formed some tactics to approach the tougher sections of the course. This evidently paid off with some much improved and confident performances on the second time round.
All of the boys should be proud of the effort and achievement in getting to the British finals and competing as one of the top school teams in Britain. A big thank you to the parents who also trekked all of the way to Pontypool to support their boys and the team. A fantastic experience for the team and we hope to continue to compete again at this level next year.