National Schools Snowsport Week is in full swing and the photos are coming in. PlanetSKI was at The Snow Centre on Friday for the launch with Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards. NEW & UPDATED
About 2,000 students are expected to take part in the Schools Snowsport week, which is aimed at getting more youngsters involved in skiing and snowboarding at an affordable price.
The latest photos (main picture and below) are of pupils from Surbiton High School in Greater London.
Surbiton High School pupils
The week was launched on Friday with the help of Britain's most famous ski jumper, who is one of the ambassadors for the project.
Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards and friends
He was joined at the indoor slope in Hemel Hempstead by two other British Olympians - snowboarder, Aimee Fuller, and the Ski Sunday presenter and former alpine racer, Graham Bell.
Aimee Fuller, Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards, Graham Bell
Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards at the 1988 Winter Olympics
NSSW officially got under way on Monday, but one event - at a lake, not a ski slope - took place on Sunday.
There were roller skiing sessions at Eton Dorney, where the rowing events at the London 2012 Olympics were staged.
Getting ready to roll....
....and they're off!
Andorra Tourism is the main sponsor of the initiative.
"We're delighted to partner with Snowsports England again as a sponsor of National School Snowsports Week for the second year, giving young people the opportunity to get active and enjoy snowsports. Andorra is a popular destination for first-time skiers and our two main ski regions of Vallnord and Grandvalira invest heavily each year to improve their facilities for children, families and groups," said Joaquim Tomas, Commercial Director of Andorra Toursim.
" We hope that the taster sessions will encourage teachers to bring school children to Andorra, where they can try out their new snow sport skills and develop a new generation of snow sport lovers and athletes. British Paralympic Gold Medallist Kelly Gallagher learnt to ski in Andorra so we hope our support of young snowsport enthusiasts will generate future medal winners in the 2022 or 2026 Winter Olympics," he added.
Last Friday, as the week was launched at The Snow Centre, Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards, Aimee Fuller and Graham Bell met some of the schoolchildren who have signed up for NSSW.
They included pupils at Yew Tree Primary school, which is close to the indoor slope, all but one of whom had never skied before.
Pupils of Yew Tree Primary with the Olympians
Before they got kitted out to try it for the first time, they had to negotiate the snowy slope in their school shoes....
Then it was on to a lesson, with the sporting celebs roped in to help out.
Graham Bell giving a Yew Tree pupil a helping hand
First-timers Jess Lawley and Steven McMahon, who are both 10, enjoyed their taster session.
"It was really good. I feel happy," Stephen told us.
"I thought it would be scary and we would go to the top, and I don't like heights," Jess said.
"It's really good. Yeah. I'd definitely like to do it again."
First ski lesson for a Yew Tree pupil
Eddie Edwards told PlanetSKI's Katie Bamber that he'd been approached by Snowsport England to become an ambassador for NSSW.
He agreed since he's loved skiing for 40 years and wants to encourage as many kids as possible to get out and enjoy skiing or snowboarding:
Aimee Fuller told us there were so many dry and indoor slopes around the country that it was now easy to get involved:
Snowsport England first organised a national event for schools last year, offering students the chance to ski for nothing or for as little as £1 in taster sessions at indoor and dry slopes across England.
It was deemed to be a success, so is being run again this year from 24th to 30th April.
Primary and secondary schools, and sixth form colleges have been given the opportunity to sign up individual pupils or full classes to take part.
Some of the students are complete beginners while others can try to racing, freestyle or ski and snowboard cross for the first time. There are also other on-snow activities.
Pupils at The Kingsley School in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, will be taking part in NSSW at The Ackers Trust dry slope in Birmingham on Friday.
They include 9 to 11-year-olds who have never skied before and members of the school's race team.
Former teacher Alan Edwards set up the school ski team three years ago. Support from Snowsport England and other sponsors means the girls have everything they need provided for them except their ski boots. They pay just £10 for each 90-minute coaching session.
The under-14 ski team were at The Snow Centre for the launch.
Alan Edwards with (L-R) Emma Lawton, Lucy Sainsbury, Hannah Dennison, Lorenza Chapman
Snowsport England's Chair of Youth Development, Dominic McGonigal, told PlanetSKI he was delighted with the take-up this year.
"We've got almost 2,000 kids signed up and most are entirely new to the snow," he said.
"We are finally getting it through that you can ski in the UK in the summer and it's a really good school sport.
"Eddie Edwards told the kids he tried every sport, he played football, did everything and finally he put a pair of skis on and thought, 'this is my sport'.
"You can see the excitement of the kids here who are on the snow for the first time."
The Kingsley School under-14 race team with NSSW Ambassadors
25 slopes have signed up and each is offering its own deals.
They include 60-minute beginner sessions for £1 at Runcorn Snowsports Centre, a 50-minute introductory session at Ski Rossendale for £4 per hour of skiing, and 30 minutes of tubing for £7 at Sandown Snowsports Centre.