Skiers push nation’s best in downhill event

Sibling skiers were in hot pursuit of two of the nation’s fastest downhill racers as they came within a whisker of winning a slalom competition.

Elena Blaikie, 14, sealed a podium slot in Derbyshire.
Elena Blaikie, 14, sealed a podium slot in Derbyshire.

Fourteen-year-old Stafford schoolgirl Elena Blaikie clocked up 14.30 seconds to finish third at Swadlincote Snowsports Centre, narrowly nudging her younger sister Georgia, aged 12, into fourth place by 0.07 seconds.

Squeezed in before the latest lockdown, the event attracted athletes across the Midlands.

Elena said: “Swadlincote used to be a 19-second slope for me so I’m thrilled with my time and to see how much I’ve improved. It felt amazing.”

The Stafford Grammar School sisters planned to use the race as a training exercise for the British schools’ open championship on November 16, which had hotshots nationwide queuing to take part.

Twelve Stafford Grammar and Stafford Prep pupils aged between five and 14 were geared up to challenge high-fliers who usually spend the winter based at academies in European alpine resorts.

Five-year-old Stafford Prep pupil Martha Mincher-Lockett is put through her paces by national ski coaches

With coronavirus restricting their season to the UK, ranked athletes from as far afield as Essex, Sunderland and Cumbria had signed-up to the National Schools Snowsports Association competition at Stoke Ski Centre.

The squad, which includes five-year-old youngest recruit Martha Mincher-Lockett, were put through their paces by national coaches at specialist training days in Stoke in preparation for the championships.

Elena added: “My performance at Swadlincote would definitely have given me confidence going forward.

“We’re all devastated the Open is cancelled because we were really excited at the prospect of racing against more experienced alpine skiers. We’ve been doing a lot of training on dry slopes with some very good teams and we’ve come on a lot. But it is what it is.”

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