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Snowsports – Newmilns, the Alps, and Aviemore

The photos show:
our skiers with Mr Coxhead and Mrs Merrick at Les Contamines;
a pupil skiing without panache at Aviemore;
Raymond Thorpe, SVS class, at Newmilns Dry Slope;
(foot of page:) the SVS class at Newmilns in 1993;
three former pupils, Bernadette McFadden, Mark Pentleton & Julie Cassidy, now teachers, and assisting on Aviemore Ski weekends.

Skiing has been popular at St Michael’s since the first ski trip to the Alps in 1973, led by Mr J A (‘Sean’) Pentleton; trips to Andalo (1980) and Tonale (1982) followed, and Mr Coxhead took groups to Morillon (1989), Les Contamines (1991) and Tonale (2006). In recent years, snowboarding has enticed a new set of young people to the slopes with its more groovy, grungy image.

As outdoor pursuits, snowsports give unrivalled excitement in stunning snow-covered mountain terrains. From the educational point of view, snowsport courses give pupils access to another leisure skill, involving a progression of techniques till they can confidently descend the steepest of pistes.

Mr Pentleton also led Scottish ski outings. Since 1985, the annual Aviemore Ski Weekend, continued by Harry and Margaret Merrick, has been the mainstay of skiing at St Michael’s. One of Harry’s specialities was finishing off the pupils’ breakfast, substantially reducing the food wastage characteristic of school trips.

Jim Coxhead continued with these very popular weekends, and in recent years has been ably assisted by Bernadette McFadden and Joanne Forrest in particular.

Ski instruction can now continue throughout the years thanks to the opening of Xscape indoor piste. Prior to this pupils were taken by minibus to Newmilns Dry Ski Slope, laid out on a lethal traverse with lamp-posts strategically positioned to arrest the progress of the out of control skier.

Our final Alpine ski course was in 2006 to Tonale in Italy. We had perfect skiing all week with fresh snow covering the resort. Along with gourmet Italian cuisine and an evening programme each day, the pupils returned with memorable experiences that will last a lifetime.

Mr J Coxhead

A thought (from ‘Mark’):
The sport skiing has become one of the most exciting, fastest and dangerous sports in the 20th century. .. Glad to see the 90m jump record being broken with an incredible jump of 181m. There’s still time left, Mr Coxhead!

A memory . . We got to ski/snowboard down the Italian Alps! Led by our ski instructors, we got to have more fun than we could possibly have imagined. (Robyn Hepburn, 2006)

The final trip . . The final Aviemore Ski Weekend was an outstanding success despite the lack of real skiing, with a record number of pupils, filling two coaches. At the Carrbridge Hotel, the owners, Colin & Theresa Watt, have been good friends of the school for seven years. Saturday saw skiing on the dry slope, bowling, mass at St Aidan’s and a disco, and Sunday saw snowball fights, tobogganing, and ice skating at Coatbridge. Thanks to all the staff who made it possible. [JAC]

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