With the first tracks already made in this winter’s snow in the Highlands, Ski-Scotland announced today, 16 November 2016, that Scotland’s real snow ski areas will this season support the country’s snowsports athletes to the tune of £87,000. This is in the form of season tickets giving the UK’s competitive skiers and snowboarders free access to Scotland’s mountain pistes for training and leisure snowsports as well as sponsorship and free training access given by Snow Factor.

Snow Factor, at Braehead near Glasgow, is a year-round snowsports centre providing real snow indoors – ideal for beginners learning as well as top athletes training. The Ski-Scotland All Area Season Ticket was developed principally to provide funds to enable more sustainable marketing of Scottish snowsports. A limited number of tickets are sold in the run-up to each winter season and are so popular that they usually sell out well before the deadline of the end of November.

“Our snowsports areas have long supported Scottish and UK elite ski and snowboard athletes by giving them free access to the slopes,” said Chair of Ski-Scotland Heather Negus. “For the last few seasons we have done this on a more co-ordinated and formal basis by issuing free All-Area Tickets to these athletes, their coaches and also up-and-coming skiers and snowboarders. This allows us to include not only the elite members of Team GB and Team Scotland but also assist and encourage the development of younger competitive athletes.”

With around 150 of these passes available for allocation to athletes and coaches for season 2016-2017, Ski-Scotland and the five mountain snowsports areas are investing in the future of Scotland’s and Great Britain’s skiing and snowboarding competitors. Together with the sponsorship of Team GB and Team Scotland and free training support given by Snow Factor, this investment amounts to £87,000.  In return, the organisation is asking athletes to commit to attending events at the Scottish snowsports areas and boosting the profile of Scottish snowsports through social media.

In recent winters Ski-Scotland has also been proactive in a project which aims to encourage a new generation to attain a level of skiing proficiency. It offers all Primary 6 children in participating areas the opportunity to learn the basics of skiing on their local artificial slope before transferring these skills to a mountain environment. The ultimate goal is to ensure that children from a wide variety of backgrounds have the opportunity to become the elite winter athletes of the future.

Ben Kilner, Winter Olympian and current British snowboard half-pipe champion added: “I first learned to snowboard at Glenshee, my local snowsports area, and since then have benefited hugely from the support of the Scottish ski areas. These All Area Season Tickets are not only a saving in financial terms but also save time.   Rather than athletes and coaches queuing for lift passes wherever we happen to be training, we can get straight onto the snow with no delay.”

Scotland’s Minister for Public Health and Sport, Aileen Campbell concluded: “Scotland has some outstanding skiing opportunities, from indoor and dry-ski slopes to stunning and challenging mountain runs. These free ski passes provided by Ski-Scotland will be a great help to our competitive skiers and snowboarders as they prepare for competition this season.”