We’ll create Olympic heroes. . 
as long as there’s no slip-ups

Hillend ski slope have announced that they puting a new jump in which will bring the ski slope up to international standard. Picture; Lisa Ferguson

Hillend ski slope have announced that they puting a new jump in which will bring the ski slope up to international standard. Picture; Lisa Ferguson

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SNOWSPORT fans could be soon taking to the air above Hillend with plans for a new international standard freestyle course.

The £104,000 scheme would see the existing freestyle section more than doubled in length with new jumps, ramps and halfpipes.

David Gray-McMath duty officer and Louise Houston ski school manager. Picture; Lisa Ferguson

David Gray-McMath duty officer and Louise Houston ski school manager. Picture; Lisa Ferguson

Aimed at making skiing and snowboarding accessible to all, the new facilities are also hoped to help train future Olympians.

“It’s amazing – it’s the final piece of the jigsaw for us and for snowsports in Scotland,” said Midlothian Snowsports Centre manager Douglas Harvey.

“It’ll be accessible for everyone, from grassroots right up to elite level – I’m absolutely buzzing.”

Officials at Midlothian Council hope the project will be part-funded by national sport agency, SportScotland.

“It’s about giving children the opportunity to try it because snowsports have always been elitist in the past and we are making it affordable,” said Mr Harvey.

The new slope fits into a wider plan to provide access to different sports for young people across Midlothian.

Mr Harvey said: “The idea is for kids to come and try it but there’s an exit strategy too. If they don’t want to do snowsports then there’s gymnastics or trampolining.

“When I was a kid, there was only football – well, that’s not the case any more.”

But the hope is the new facilities will bring an extra edge to competitive freestyling at Hillend – host of the annual university dryslope championships every November.

And boasting a pedigree which sees Olympian Murray Buchan regularly taking to the slope, Mr Harvey is hopeful for future success stories.

“It’ll be starting small-scale because Edinburgh doesn’t have a big freestyle fraternity but we’ve had quite a lot of ­Olympians here as the largest dry ski slope in Europe.

“But hopefully we could be helping put future stars on the podium.

“We’re booming right now. We’ve got every school in Midlothian coming – we’re bursting at the seams and it’s great to see.”

Midlothian Council’s head of sports and leisure, Tony Malone, said top track designers are on standby to build the course to international standards.

Other leisure facilities in Midlothian’s capital plan include a £21,000 outdoor fitness trail at King George V Park in Bonnyrigg.

Councillors also approved a £254,000 refit of Saltersgate School, while projects by road safety group Sustrans are also included.

Council leader Catherine Johnstone said: “We’re delighted to be able to approve a wide range of fantastic projects to enhance our communities partly funded through having secured external funding.

“I’m sure thousands of residents will enjoy everything from the new fitness trail to the improved cycling and walking routes.”

andy.shipley@jpress.co.uk