Sssa 3

Winter season kicks off at Glenmore

Clubs and schools return to the ski slope at Glenmore Lodge

The Strathspey area is home to a thriving community of snowsports enthusiasts. As sportscotland’s National Outdoor Training Centre, Glenmore Lodge seeks to support and encourage participation in and the development of snowsports in the local area by prioritising community access to facilities, delivering training and education, and working with National Governing Bodies on qualification pathways.

The ethos of Glenmore Lodge Snowsports is to inspire and nurture all current and future participants of skiing and snowboarding. Alongside skills courses and delivering training and assessments for qualifications, Glenmore Lodge works with many of the clubs and groups in the area that make up the snowsports community.

Cairngorm Ski Club has been the backbone of the ski racing and freestyle scene in Strathspey for the last fifty years. It has free use of the dry ski slope year-round, with slots reserved to allow sessions to go ahead when conditions are challenging on Cairngorm Mountain during winter. Janet Townsend, a Trustee of Cairngorm Ski Club, said: 

“Our partnership with Glenmore Lodge has been instrumental in the development of our clubs' athletes and coaches. Our access to the Lodge and its facilities all year round has without a doubt helped produce a generation of snowsports enthusiasts who have gone on to race internationally and become Olympians, to become instructors and coaches, and to inspire the next generation of snowsports participants.”

In 2019, Glenmore Lodge developed the Club Piste Leader Award for UK Snowsport and trialled it with the Cairngorm Ski Club; this enables clubs to train and license adult volunteers and senior athletes to support or lead club groups under supervision. Glenmore Lodge has also partnered with the club to deliver backcountry awareness days for families and has provided off-piste and avalanche awareness education for young racers. Janet added: “Our involvement with Glenmore Lodge has not just focused on performance snowsport but has also included free-style and backcountry safety training, improving the all-round knowledge of our athletes and helping to promote lifelong participation. Glenmore Lodge’s support has been essential in the past, present and future success of Cairngorm Ski Club."

The dry slope enables the National Centre to host races in which many club members compete, including the recent Scottish Schools Ski Association (SSSA) Dual Slalom race that took place in October 2022. The SSSA is a national charity that strives to use snowsports to improve physical and mental health, develop confidence and teamwork skills. Janet Townsend is also an event organiser for the SSSA: “With Glenmore Lodge’s generous support and expertise, the SSSA has been able to run popular and successful snow events with pupils from the surrounding local community."

A local snowboarding club also frequently uses the dry slope, coached by club president Euan Baxter: “Cairngorm Snowboard Club has been providing training to local children for 20 years, making friends, building community, learning new skills, having opportunities to excel, all within the mountains they call home."

This year the club began a new initiative, The Snowboard Leadership Program, which offers past and current members of the club the opportunity to develop new skills as leaders.We ran a Level 1 Instructor course kindly supported financially by the Cairngorm Trust as well as Glenmore Lodge, who offered use of their Snowsport Scotland Training Centre licence, without which this fantastic opportunity could not have taken place,” said Euan. “The club has 30 trainees in the program this year, so with many looking forward up the pathway we’re working hard to secure adequate facility for them to pursue any ambition they may have. The support Glenmore Lodge provides is fundamental in this future."

Alongside working with Cairngorm Ski Club and the Snowboarding Club, Glenmore Lodge is also engaged with a wide range of businesses and organisations that play key roles in the local snowsports community. Based in Aviemore, Free-Ski is a popular provider of ski lessons run by Jerry Craig: “I have been in snowsports teaching for 38 years. We run an autumn block of lessons at Glenmore Lodge, generally for primary and pre-school children and we also run an evening block of lessons for teens and parents which has proved very popular.”

These lessons are a fantastic way for local children to discover the fun of snowsports and help encourage many to become active skiers, and use of the ski slope is provided at a discounted rate to support their delivery. “Glenmore Lodge’s slope is the biggest facility in the Strathspey Valley lending itself to being the ideal location to run our lessons, and we welcome any future developments to improve it in the coming years”, commented Jerry.

Last year the dry slope became a venue for the Adaptive Snowsports Collective, a community interest company providing adaptive snowsport lessons for those with any form of learning, sensory or physical disability. Ed Hewison organises and delivers these lessons, he said:

"Glenmore Lodge is a brilliant venue for our lessons as the site is completely accessible and the slope is set in a private location with very few distractions for beginner skiers."

As well as a dry ski slope, Glenmore Lodge is the only facility in the UK to have both a roller ski track and live firing range. As a result, the Centre has been home to the Cairngorm Biathlon and Nordic Ski club since its founding and has hosted many pursuit races over the years. Similarly, Glenmore Lodge also works to support both the British Nordic Development Squad and the Scottish Nordic Development Squad as a venue for their training camps.

The snowsports community is a significant asset for the Aviemore area and provides opportunities for people to participate and enjoy all the benefits of being active in the outdoors. By providing facilities and supporting the clubs that facilitate people to access these experiences, Glenmore Lodge hopes to contribute to the continued health of our local snowsports community and the wellbeing of those who participate in it.

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