The British Schoolgirls Ski Championships took place in a sunny Flaine, France. Amber Griffin, Sophie Lovett, Zoe Moir and Sabrina Smith represented Epsom against strong competition from schools including Reed’s and Surbiton. Here Ms Eva Kennedy reports on the trip:
“The sun was shining in Flaine, France, when we woke up early on Saturday morning 28 January after a late arrival the night before. The girls met their coach and disappeared in the distance to focus primarily on vertical movements and angulation. They came back and concluded that the conditions were difficult and icy and that it had been hard but rewarding work.
The first day of racing began with the Giant Slalom, and Zoe, who was our ‘reserve’, was designated forerunner by the organisers and skied wonderfully. We certainly have a serious racer in the making.
By the end of this very competitive – and exciting – race, Amber came eighth overall (fourth in the U16); Sophie was 31st overall (13th in the U16); and Sabrina 54th overall (26th in the U16). These were extraordinary results considering that 138 girls competed, and we were up against some of the country’s top skiing schools.
The final day of racing consisted of an incredibly challenging slalom competition. Conditions were still tough, and the girls had had their skis prepped the night before in order to be able to handle the icy pistes.
Racing began and several girls found it extremely difficult to handle the course – having to abandon the race. However, all the Epsom girls completed both runs, and Zoe was again a superb forerunner. Amber finished 17th, and Sophie in 28th. Unfortunately, Sabrina missed a gate in the first run due to the course being very icy at that stage. She still got to race a second time and finished that run admirably.
The final race was the parallel race in which two teams of three skiers relay race simultaneously, one team on a blue course, and the other on a red course. The winning team goes to the next run.
This was an extremely competitive and jaw-dropping competition with team skiers giving their all. Many teams came across the line only hundredths of seconds apart. Epsom, however, produced the most exciting race of the day. We were marginally in the lead against Benenden after Sophie’s first run, followed by Zoe – who lost a nano-second in the second run – putting Benenden in the lead as the third racers attacked the course. Amber Griffin skied the race of her career as she caught up with the Benenden skier inch by inch, taking the victory on the finish line – the crowd going wild. Epsom ultimately bowed out in the quarter-finals against a strong New Hall team.
Exhausted, excited and pleased, the girls packed up their gear after two days of unbelievable effort and grit. Throughout the Championships, I was mightily impressed by these girls’ approach, positivity and attitude. Every setback was viewed as an opportunity to learn and a reason to continue rather than give up. They were supported by a wonderful team of dedicated and passionate parents, and together we had an enriching and enjoyable experience, supporting the girls all the way.”