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Friday October 6, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

Ski racers aged 7 to 70 will be in Gloucester this weekend to mark the 40th anniversary of the UK's oldest league competition.

The annual final of the Summer Race League takes place on Saturday 14th October at the Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre.

The first league contest was held on the site in 1977, four years after the longest artificial outdoor ski slope in England and Wales opened.

Local ski coach Tony Pearson from the Western Counties Ski Club and Stuart Robertson from the South West Ski Association were involved in the early days.

They are still at the heart of events as both organisers and competitors.

Stuart RobertsonStuart Robertson racing in 2012














"We can't quite believe that it is 40 years since we worked so hard to bring ski racing to the slopes of Gloucester," Robertson said.

"Even though the slope opened in 1973, it wasn't until 1977 when we had an updated surface suitable for racing were we able to start the league.

"We are proud that we played such a crucial part in forming an organised league and setting the rules that still stand today."

Racing at Gloucester Ski slope Racing at Gloucester















Many of the racers who took part in the league went on to national and international success.

Some have competed at Europa Cup level and at least one became an Olympian.

Gloucester was the local the local slope where Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards learnt to ski.

He was a talented ski racer before converting to ski jumping.

Eddie to soar again on Sunday 5 March Eddie The Eagle at the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988














Other big names in British skiing who raced at Gloucester - though not necessarily in the Summer Race League - are Martin and Graham Bell.

The Summer Race League was set up both to provide race experience for novices to help them develop, and to provide continuing competition for those who didn't want to race in national events as registered seeded racers.

Its aim is much the same 40 years on though quite a lot else has changed.

Ski design has been revolutionised, the slalom poles are now hollow with a spring-loaded base, helmets are compulsory, body protection is more sophisticated and electronic timing has taken over from the stopwatch.

The Summer Race League currently brings in more than 150 racers on a regular basis from all over England and Wales.

The medals for the 40th annual final next Saturday will be presented by the Mayor of Gloucester.

Good luck everyone and happy birthday!

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