The English Alpine Ski Championships kicked off in style under sunny skies in Bormio today, with some impressive skiing in the FIS National Junior Slalom and Under 12 & Under 10 Giant Slalom.
Around 400 athletes, coaches, parents and supporters descended on Bormio yesterday for the opening parade, which – to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Championships in Bormio – ended in an impressive torchlight descent by local ski instructors. Kandahar Racing’s Elliott Bennett also took part having been chosen to light the opening flame.
In the men’s Under 21 category of the FIS NJR Slalom, Billy Major took the overall victory ahead of France's Sacha Lekaene, with English compatriot Robert Poth third overall. Fraser Middleton finished as the third-highest British skier, and ninth overall. For the Under 21 women, Jessica Anderson was fifth overall and the highest-placed English skier, with Yasmin Cooper taking second and Freya Eaton third.
Meanwhile, Benjamin Bruno topped the pile for the English skiers in the men’s Under 18 race, with Kieran Troup and David Christey the next-highest British racers. Megan Riley – who has been concentrating on her GCSE’s this year – took the win for the Under 18 women ahead of Lucy Scott and Grace Williams.
Billy Major, 1st Men’s U21 NJR Slalom:
“I was quite surprised, but it’s always good to come away with a win. The conditions held up pretty good, but I actually wasn’t too happy with how I skied parts of it. A win is a win, and I haven’t been here since I was racing in the children’s races, so this is my first-ever FIS race at the English Ski Championships and that’s a great result.
“This season’s been a bit of a weird one so far; I’ve been training well but not doing as good in the races and it’s hard to put a finger on why. We’ve got a new set-up since April last year with the British team where myself and Laurie Taylor are training with a couple of Austrian coaches, which is going really well. It feels that bit more professional than what I was doing before. I’m trying to get to the next level up, and even though the points I’ve got in my races this year, I think I’ve made quite a big step.”
Benjamin Bruno, 1st Men’s U18 NJR Slalom:
“I’ve just come back from quite a difficult set of races where I wasn’t getting the points that I wanted to. It wasn’t coming very easily to me, but now I am getting myself into the right state of mind and these last few training sessions have been really good before today’s race.
“I’m very happy I’m progressing so there’s definitely some big positives to take into the rest of the week. An English title this week would be brilliant and I hope I’m skiing well enough to do that.”
Jess Anderson, 1st Women’s U21 NJR Slalom:
“It’s a really good result for me to start off the week because my season’s not been going as I’d have hoped so far, so it’s a good confidence booster. In the summer I snapped a ligament in my foot so I’m still coming back from that and trying to catch up all winter.
“The first run was really nice and the second was really turny, which I normally quite like but the ruts were in some slightly awkward places and I had a couple of mistakes so I was a little annoyed with that. There’s plenty of room to improve and I’m looking to do well in everything this week. I’m strong in the GS at the moment, but then I really enjoy the speed events as well.”
Megan Riley 1st Women’s U18 NJR Slalom
“It was a good race for me and a good result. The snow was alright, and I feel like I skied a lot better in the second run after a pretty average first one.
“I’ve had to focus on school and my GCSE’s this year so far, so I can’t be training full-time but that’s just how it is and I’ve got to work with the time I have. Slalom isn’t my favourite event – I prefer the GS overall – but I’ve just come here to see how well I can do without any specific goals. I’d like to score some FIS points throughout the week. It is a big step up in the age category this year so just getting some points would make it a good week.”
Over on the Stella Alpina piste, at the heart of the Bormio ski area, the minis tackled the Under 12 and Under 10 Giant Slalom. Taking victory for the boys in the Under 12 category was Kieran Woolley from Evolution, with Luca Carrick-Smith taking second after a skiing out on the first run and completing a storming second. Kayne Stanway from Ambition Racing claimed the third podium position with Ruaridh Blyth in fourth and Alex Ogden in fifth. For the Under 12 girls, Glasgow Ski Racing’s Erin Ward took top spot, with Honor Bartlett from Ambition Racing in second and Maisie Blyth from the Scottish Ski Club in third. Lauren Blook took fourth and Molly Butler finished in fifth.
In the Under 10 category, brothers Zak and Freddy Carrick-Smith took first and second place respectively, posting quick first runs. Hamish Blyth from Scottish Ski Racing finished in third place, with Harry Parker-Swift the fastest English registered racer in fourth and Jeramie Galmarini in fifth. In the girls Under 10 race, Tabitha Milkins posted a quick time in run one, holding onto her lead to stand on top of the podium. Just behind her was Holly Tutt from Ambition Racing who took second and India Swift-Parker who was third. Fourth place went to Annabelle Davey from Sandown Park and fifth place was Momo Daniel from DHO.
Kieran Woolley, 1st Boys Under 12 GS:
“It was a big course today, and pretty turny in places, but I really enjoyed it. I had to stay really balanced to do well. I was so determined to win and when I was in the start gate I was thinking, ‘I can do this’! I was really up for it though and skied well. I was pleased with my performance, and hopefully can get more podiums this season.”
Erin Ward, 1st Girls Under 12 GS:
“The race went really well for me today. My first run was fast, and the second run slower, but it was the same for all the racers. I was a bit nervous, but I knew I wanted to win so just went for it. I will be racing again this week at the English Alpine Champs, and hope to get another podium.”
Zak Carrrick-Smith, 1st Boys Under 10 GS:
“I was really happy with my runs today. The first run was quick, but the second run was a little bit slower. It was great to win and stand on the top of the podium. I love everything about skiing; the speed, the snow and when I grow up I would love to race professionally.”
Tabitha Milkins, 1st Girls Under 10 GS:
“I was happy with my first run, but crashed on my second run. Fortunately I managed to hold on to take the win though! I was pretty nervous in the start gate, but really wanted to do well. I am looking forward to racing again in Bormio this week, and I feel like I am getting better this season, with lots of training and racing as well.”
The full results can be viewed on the English Alpine Championships page on the Snowsport England website: www.snowsportengland.org.uk. All the action can be followed on Twitter @SnowsportEng / #AlpineChamps and the Snowsport England page on Facebook.
Tomorrow the action continues with the FIS Slalom on the Stelvio piste and the U14/U16 Slalom on the Stella Alpina race piste.
Snowsport England would like to thank the continued sponsorship and support of the event by main sponsors and supporters Bormio Ski, Rossignol, Vital, Ski Club of Great Britain, Ski Bartletts and Racer Ready.