She might be a bit young to be dreaming of the Winter Olympics just yet, but 10-year-old skiier Lauren Shepherdson is hurtling her way to success on the slopes.
The Year Five pupils at West Jesmond Primary School Year in Newcastle is preparing for a trip to Landgraaf, Holland, after being selected for the English Schools’ Ski Association’s (ESSKIA) primary squad.
Lauren will train on the same dry slopes as World Cup ski race teams during the intensive three-day training camp this Easter, at the world’s largest indoor ski centre.
She qualified for the squad when she impressed as part of her school team, which made it through to the national finals of the ESSKIA dry slope slalom skiing competition in Norwich last autumn at their first attempt.
The school trains regularly with the Tigers Ski Club at Silksworth Dry Ski Slope near Sunderland.
Lauren’s mother, Christine Shepherdson, said: “We are really proud of her and of the school team. This is the first time the school has entered a team into the competition – hopefully it’s the beginning of a great skiing future.
“ESSKIA have had people who have gone on to the highest international level and competed in the Olympics but Hannah isn’t thinking that far ahead yet. She’s just delighted to be going to Holland with a load of people her own age.”
Lauren is following in the footsteps of 16-year-old Hannah Hunt, who also skis at Tigers and joined the senior ESSKIA squad on a training camp in Norway in February.
“I was exceptionally proud of Hannah,” said her mother Paula. “When she came back she said it was the best experience of her life.
“It was great for her to be able to go away and do what she loves with a load of like minded people.
“She’s got good really quickly – she’s only been racing a year. She’s starting to do national races and wants to get into GBR races too.”
The Tigers are trained by some of ESSKIA’s top coaches, including head coach Niall Whatmore.
“We’re really lucky to have him training the kids at this level, he’s a great coach,” said Christine.
The West Jesmond team is now starting to prepare for the 2014 competition which will take place in September this year, and they are aiming to represent the North East in the National Finals again.