24th Feb, 2018

On a slippery slope in Scotland as the Winter Olympics gets underway

Ross Crawford 10th Feb, 2018

INSPIRED by the Winter Olympics? There’s never been a better time to learn to ski or snowboard.

But with the pound struggling following the Brexit vote the only place where good old sterling goes as far as it should is by staying in this country.

So if the Alps, Dolomites, Pyrenees and Carpathians are out of the equation where to go to hone those skills picked up in a ‘Learn to Ski in a Day’ course at Tamworth Snowdome?

Step forward Scotland and Cairngorm Mountain where we enjoyed three superb days skiing in the Highlands at its famous winter resort, Aviemore.

The course at Tamworth (£169, cheaper in the spring and summer) had really prepared us well for the more gentle slopes, but more training was in order.

There’s a wide range of coaches keen to teach out there but we plumped for Nicola Tannehill and her team at Aviemore Ski School.

Lessons start from around £40 but factoring in ski and boot hire, helmet and poles it came in at £100 for one-to-one training which we reckoned was good value considering we were being taught by a woman who has climbed the north col of Everest and skied the world.

Believe me, you can pay a lot more.

Cairngorm Mountain itself was superb. A 10 minute drive from Aviemore it has two car parks and a funicular railway (£28.50, including ski pass) that will take you up to the resort.

Here there are numerous runs of varying difficult from green to black and off-piste while the stunning Ptarmigan Bowl is perfect for beginners.

A restaurant and cafe is also up there offering tasty meals and drinks at reasonable prices.

As luck would have it our first day on the mountain was the best so far of the season with brilliant sunshine and lots of snow.

To add to the spectacle the Army was holding its championships there too, which added to the glamour of the occasion.

Our training went well, to the extent we decided to spend the following day just putting into practice what we’d learnt from Nicola.

It dawned very windy, sculpting the snow and piling up the drifts provoking plenty of hilarity whenever someone, includes ourselves, tumbled off the T-bar lift into a heap of snow.

That evening brought a bonus too – Nicola, on the mountain with another group of trainees, had spotted our skiing needed a bit more work doing to it – would we mind if we had a day or half day’s free lesson from a trainee coach while she assessed him?

We were only too happy to say yes.

And if you get tired of Cairngorm, Ben Nevis is an hour an a half away and also with excellent ski facilities accessed by cable car.

Snow is once again forecast for the Cairngorms and with snow cannons and a snow machine poised, even if the white stuff doesn’t fall from the sky there will be skiing in the Scottish mountains this winter.

We stayed in a B&B in Aviemore and the town is well geared up for winter sports with lots of shops and hotels.

Nicola Tannehill and Aviemore ski School can be contacted on 01479 811066 or visit http://www.theskischool.co.uk/

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