Most people are aware of the strong competition side of skiing through the excellent productions on TV, Channel 4, BBC and Eurosport.
But many non-skiers, and a lot of those who only ski in the mountains, do not realise that there is a strong race scene amongst British skiers through all the seasons. How many realise that the British stars such as Alain Baxter and Chemmy Alcott also raced extensively on artificial slopes in the UK before concentrating on the World Championship scene?
There are a number of competitions organised, Slalom, Giant Slalom, Acro and Ballet, and these are run on outdoor plastic slopes and indoors at the small but growing number of indoor snow slopes. Most of the events are Slalom races on the outdoor slopes. This is mainly because the scene has developed over the years before indoor slopes were available, and the shorter length of artificial slopes makes downhill an organisational challenge.
The slalom races run mainly on the same rules as World Championships, the competitors are timed over a course marked out by alternating red and blue gates, so long as both boots and tips go through the gate they can go in any direction, but only one route is going to be quick. Each race has a variety of gates set from "wiggling" "Verticale" to large offset needing a lot of skill to keep the speed.
The race season gets into full swing after Easter when the snow starts to melt and the snow championships have finished, and there are races every week at all levels. From Club and Regional Fun races aimed as an introduction, through Race Leagues to the top level of races: Club Nationals and Grand Prix run by Snowsport England.
In the Race Leagues, clubs put up teams to compete all through the summer season, and the theme often varies by including direct racing head to head and relay races.
MSC run two teams in the Gloucester League, and around 50 members race for the club during the season.
In each of the events the racers in earlier races. are split by age so they are competing in a small group, but the overall winner can be from any age. Midland Ski Club has racers in all categories, and a social occasion is common after a days racing.
The formal ski race calender can be found online at www.britski.org.
At the end of the season there are Grand Prix finale events such as the All England and British Championship, to take part in these the racers have to qualify, having proved their ability in earlier races.
Each of these events can find about 150 racers and their families preparing skis, picnicing and enjoying the performance of all competitors and a ful day's enjoyment.
So if you want to get involved in this and try yourself, come along to the MSC and join in our training. We can take you through a whole programme of building skills to race level and who knows: Grand Prix Champion or the Olympics?