More than 300 school children in Aviemore celebrated the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in style as they tried out different snow sports, met former Olympian Ingrid Grant and received a message from local girl Lesley McKenna in PyeongChang.
Sport First paid them a visit to see how their special day unfolded.
The excitement was palpable in the frosty air as Aviemore Primary School and Community Centre prepared to start their day of Winter Olympic celebrations. Classrooms had turned into ‘come and try’ zones for various snow sports, with clubs and volunteers setting up equipment, kit and information stands.
The head teacher, teachers and staff from High Life Highland Sports, in particular Community Sport Hubs officers Donald Hall and Katie Matthews, and their colleagues from Libraries and Facilities had carefully planned this special day for the young people and the clubs, and what they achieved was nothing short of Olympic standard.
The 300 primary-school children were able to move between a fantastic array of winter sports, coached through techniques and given tips by experts from local clubs.
Cairngorm Ski Club, Cairngorm Snowboard Club, Disability Snowsports UK, Cairngorm Biathlon & Nordic Ski Club, Badenoch & Strathspey Schools Snowsports Association, Cairngorm Mountain and British Ski & Snowboard were all represented on the day, showcasing their sports and sporting opportunities locally at their clubs.
Young athletes of the future from local ski and curling clubs talked their peers through the intricacies of their sports and gave them pointers as they played and practised.
The younger children of the nursery had the opportunity to watch video clips introducing them to the different sports, colour in pictures of their favourite sports and enjoy story time – led by the libraries team and local author Nancy Chambers, whose book Molly and Eddie Go Skiing was a huge hit with the enthusiastic audience.
Ingrid Grant grew up locally and competed for Great Britain in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Grenoble. She joined in the celebrations and inspired the children, showcasing her Olympic kit and sharing how she started on her sporting journey.
After the excitement of the active sessions, the school gathered in the assembly hall to watch a video clip from another local Olympian, Lesley McKenna, now British Ski & Snowboard team Manager in PyeongChang. Her inspiring words encouraged the children to keep trying snow sports and join a local club. She also highlighted the Lecht Winter Games happening on 17/18 February, offering all snow-lovers a great experience, no matter their age or ability.
The earlier poster competition had produced some excellent dressing for the Olympic display board in the adjoining community centre, and the winners were announced and rewarded with snow sports kit. Ingrid and staff from High Life Highland also gave out medals to those children who had excelled at the activities during the day.
The snow factor
Aviemore has produced more Olympic athletes per head of population than anywhere else in the UK, with 16 hailing from the area. As the event came to a close and the school and staff watched the opening ceremony from PyeongChang on the big screen, it felt like it would not be long before the tally of 16 would be extended.
Find out more
Community sport hubs bring together sport clubs and key local partners who want to develop and grow the sporting offering in the community. More information on High Life Highland community sport hubs can be found on their website.