AS a member of one of history’s most famous families, Ted Kennedy was never going to escape unnoticed on a trip to the ski centre at Hillend in 1981.
He was in town for an international conference on sport for the disabled to discuss how his senator father, Edward, helped him overcome the loss of a leg to cancer.
The top-ranked disabled skier then found time to take to the slopes with 12-year-old Capital amputee Brian Jordan.
No-one can ever accuse the Midlothian Snowsports Centre at Hillend of going downhill. Plans revealed this week will see a £600,000 investment made to construct new slopes and tubing runs featuring a type of surface designed to make injury a thing of the past.
In fact, Lord Provost Herbert Brechin was going up when the centre’s ski lift opened in 1966, along with businessman George Boyd Anderson, who helped get the project off the ground.
But for generations of skiers in the Lothians, “Hillend thumb” has been an unavoidable risk on a day out at what is the longest dry slope in Europe. The painful injury picked up the name thanks to the high number of stray fingers and thumbs sprained after being caught in the slope’s fibres.
The centre has seen many changes over its time, with its latest transformation seeing a new 210-metre main slope and 60-metre nursery slope being built, as well as four slides accessed by a travelator. Back in 1967, workmen were hard at it extending the slope by 200 metres.
And while injuries have always occured, one skier saw the funny side after a crash on the opening weekend in 1965. Morag Forsyth was the amused victim being helped to her feet by Bill Pickering.