WINTER sports enthusiasts have been given a boost as they prepare for the new season.
Midlothian Snowsports Centre was opened to the public last week following a £600,000 project to upgrade its facilities.
Local children were among the first skiers and snowboarders sampling the downhill treats at Hillend.
The new provisions include an additional 210-metre slope, 60 metres of new nursery slope (with safer ski matting), an extension and improvement work to the existing nursery slopes and the installation of travellator uplift systems.
Work is continuing to install 240 metres of tubing.
Over the next week, the centre will be operating limited opening during daylight hours to allow testing.
Midlothian Council, which owns and runs the centre, worked with an expert team of designers on the improvements, which were funded by a £533,000 investment from sportscotland and an injection of funds from the Boyd Anderson Trust.
Councillor Bob Constable, the council leader, said: “I am absolutely delighted with the transformation of the centre at Hillend.
“I want to thank everyone involved, including the Scottish Government, sportscotland, our contractors and staff, for their support in bringing this project to such a successful conclusion.
“If you haven’t visited the Midlothian Snowsports Centre in a while, you’ll be delighted with all our new facilities, including the longest and most exciting dry ski slope in Europe.
“The improvements put our ski centre on the map as Scotland’s premier snowsports attraction.”
Stewart Harris, sportscotland’s chief executive, described the improvements as “fabulous”.
He said: “They will encourage even more people onto the slopes in the coming months.
“sportscotland’s investment of £533,000 has been used along with funding from the Boyd Anderson Trust to take the facilities to the next level and the centre is an excellent example of partners, including Midlothian Council, successfully collaborating.
“It is vital that we maximise the opportunities for people to become involved in sport and this investment shows our commitment to help develop and support a world-class sporting system at all levels, which will inspire future generations to be the best they can be.”
The 240 metres of tubing are also nearing completion. It is expected that the official opening will take place next year.