In responding to Chantelle Goddard-jones’ call to arms in support of Team Slalom Plus, I’d like to share my story.
I’m not from a skiing family, I wouldn’t have been a skier at all if it wasn’t for the dry slope on my doorstep. I was introduced to skiing back in ’91 when I joined Krazy Kids Klub on Saturday mornings at Gloucester Ski Centre. Within a year one of my coaches had invited me to join her new ski racing team “Slalom Plus”.
I had already sampled ski racing in the form of the Gloucester Summer Race league, and as far as I was concerned this was the elite of British Ski Racing. By 1993 I had discover the national series of events all over the UK, and by 1994 I did my first ski race on snow.
Year by year, my experiences grew. 1997 my first British University Dry Slope Championships. 1998 I was on the winning University team in Les Arcs, France.
University came and went, and all the while, when I could, I was training twice a week with Chantelle at Slalom Plus. I was 6 months into my first graduate job when I came 2nd place senior in the World Dry Slope Championships in High Wycombe.
In 2002 the club was bursting with talent, including several British Children’s Team members. I started to get involved more in the organisation of the club. Helping more with events, transport, etc, we even formed a Team SLP band for the 10 year anniversary of the club!
I started to show an interest in coaching and a friend told me how to get started. With plenty of encouragement from the club, I quit the rat-race set of to Canada to start my career in snowsport instruction.
It seems so long ago now. I’m about to start my 11th Winter season. I’ve spent 5 years working for the ESF in Tignes in France, now I’ve moved to a smaller independent school called TDC and this season I’ll also be working with a specialist snowboard school called Alliance (I’ve broadened my skill-base along the way).
You can say that skiing has become my life, I even met my wife skiing, but none of my skiing adventures would have been possible if it wasn’t for a chance encounter with Chantelle. I showed no particular promise in the sport, I had no experience to speak of, yet still Chantelle though she could make a ski racer of me.
A move to ban Team Slalom Plus from Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre will only deny young people of Gloucestershire the opportunity I had. Whatever reason there is for the ‘ban’, it is already damaging the reputation of the ski centre and the wider sport in general.