Ski slope enters the ring in bid to host Olympic symbol

HUGE Olympic rings would be mounted on the slopes of the Pentland Hills under audacious plans to bring a flavour of London 2012 to Midlothian.

Provost Adam Montgomery has made a formal approach to Games chief Lord Sebastian Coe offering to site the Olympic symbols at the Snowsports Centre – and it could even become a permanent fixture. An official letter was sent to Lord Coe about a fortnight ago, days after controversial plans to attach eight-metre high rings to the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle were thrown out by Historic Scotland following a public outcry over the proposals.

In the letter, Provost Montgomery invited Olympic organisers to fix the Games’ insignia atop Hillend – one of the highest points in Midlothian and visible from West Lothian, Fife, East Lothian and Edinburgh.

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“When Edinburgh turned it down I thought it’s a shame to waste the opportunity to get the Olympic rings in Scotland because I feel we are part of the Olympics Games with the football on in Hampden and other events up here,” he said.

“I thought, ‘how good would it be if Chris Hoy wins a gold medal and he’s flying back into Edinburgh over the Olympic rings at the ski centre?’. I think that would be absolutely brilliant.”

The Evening News led a successful “Say No To Coe” campaign urging heritage chiefs to scrap the project in Edinburgh, and, following the outcry, Historic Scotland denied permission to put the rings on Edinburgh Castle.

Councillor Montgomery has confirmed he has yet to receive a reply from Lord Coe.

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But he said: “We are going to chase it up because there’s a fair bit of interest in it now. If it doesn’t work out there’s nothing lost, but I think it would be a mistake not to make the offer. The visibility is brilliant – you could see it when you are coming over the Forth Bridge. Even cruise ships coming up the Forth are going to see it.

“It could be a real inter- national feature, and it’s on the flight path into Edinburgh.”

He has also suggested the Olympic mount could be Midlothian’s answer to the iconic Hollywood sign in Los Angeles.

“What an identity it would give to us as an area,” he said. “I don’t think we could do anything better. If we do get it, I would be looking to see if we could make it a permenant feature up there.”

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“It would actually be quite similar to the Hollywood sign or even the Angel of the North. It would put the ski centre and Midlothian on the map.” Confirming the letter had been received, a spokesperson for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games said it was “grateful” for the support and had passed it on to the Deparment for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) at Westminster.

A DSMC spokeswoman said: “We are continuing to work with Edinburgh City Council and the Scottish Government to identify a new location for the rings within Edinburgh. Alternative locations should be put to Edinburgh City Council.”

It is understood East Lothian and West Lothian have made no bid to house the Olympic rings.