Ski girls aim to put Dalkeith on the map at championships

Claire and Zoe Winthrop
Claire and Zoe Winthrop

Three teenage girls from Dalkeith are set to compete 
at the World Junior Ski Championships in Italy next week.

Claire (19) and Zoe Winthrop (17) and Alannah Lawrie (17) are set to take part in the ski cross discipline in Chiesa Valmalenco, on the Italian-Swiss border, as members of the Great Britain squad.

Alannah Lawrie

Alannah Lawrie

Ski cross was first introduced at the Winter Olympics in 2010 and features four skiers competing against each other while racing down a hillside featuring man-made jumps.

Former Dalkeith High pupils Claire and Zoe, of Fala, and Alannah, who attended George Watson’s in Edinburgh, became friends while skiing on the dry ski slopes at Midlothian Snowsports Centre.

Now they are set to compete possibly against each other and the world’s top junior skiers.

Zoe, who left school last summer with Claire leaving in 2015 were both expert alpine skiers but they said: ‘‘Ski cross was something we had wanted to try from when we first saw it.

‘‘We had no clue, however, how to get into the sport as training is less accessible than alpine skiing as it can’t be done on dryslopes.

‘‘We found out about the Scottish Skier and Boardercross Championships that is held at Glenshee every year and decided to give it a go.’’

Their ski cross skills were noticed after attending a British Ski and Snowboard selection day at the Snowdome in Glasgow last year.

Since then both have competed in the Audi Ski Cross tour where their results have been improving with every round.

Claire said: ‘‘In my first FIS (international race) I was placed 12th, which I was really excited about as I didn’t expect such a good result.’’

Since then Claire has had podium finishes in the Czech Republic while Zoe came in sixth. They have 
also competed in the Dakine Giant X tour series.

Alannah achieved success while still at school being selected for the School World Championships and the British Alpine ski team over two years, finishing 
second at the British Alpine Super G in Tignes.

After skiiing for five years, she decided to end her Alpine career after winning the GS, Super G and Alpine Combined in the English 
Alpine Championships last month.

Since changing to Ski Cross Alannah has competed mainly in Sweden where she came in fifth in her first race.

But since then she has taken part in two Europa Cups and been placed 10th on both occasions. Most recently she came in fourth in a race.

With no funding through British Ski and Snowboard, all three girls compete thanks to funding from their parents and through whatever funding is received by sponsorship.

The sisters travel to events around Europe in a converted van in which they also sleep.

Older sister Claire helps boosts funds through ski instruction but Zoe is still too young to work despite being qualified to instruct.

Her aim is now to compete next season when she will be old enough to work to help cover the cost of the season.

The championships will be staged from April 3 to April 7.