Snowsports: Dryslope champs a real big hit with undergraduates

Big Air and Slopestyle are perhaps not featured in the University of Edinburgh course prospectus, but students from the Capital institution were able to show off their skills in their specialist subjects at the British Universities Dryslope Championships at the weekend.

Midlothian Snowsports Centre at Hillend played host to more than 1,000 competitors from all over the country, and members of Edinburgh University Snowsports Club (EUSSC) were among the medallists, with Becca Thoirs and Charlotte Clarke finishing first and second respectively in the female Big Air event, while Shaun Maver clocked in as runner-up in the men's Giant Slalom.

Becca, originally from Dunfermline, braved the inclement weather en route to success and hopes to carry her good form into the universities' major European event early next year.

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She said: "The championships were really good, but pretty scary as it was snowing and raining most of the time. The guys' standard is unreal, but the girls were pretty good, too.

"I've been skiing since I was five or six years old, but only started freestyle when I joined Uni. I competed in the Scottish version of the event a few weeks ago and hope to compete in the main event in the Alps in March."

Many of the events, such as the slaloms, focused on speed and sharpness of turn, others demanded fearless jumps and rewards for artistic impression. Mike Davies, vice president of EUSSC, competed in two freestyle events but, after a wipeout on both, insists he is one of many at the growing university club who enters the competitive stage only for enjoyment.

"I crashed on both the events I tried, but I competed just for good fun. For others who want to push further on, our club can help with that. We have a competitors' fund for equipment for people who race well for us. The majority of the members aren't there to compete, but, if they are, they don't take it very seriously.

"We have 550 members and expect to reach over 700 as the year goes on. We're the biggest club at the sports uni and one of the top five biggest snowsports clubs in the UK. Some people go skiing to the Scottish resorts at least once a week when the conditions suit, and lots of us go every week to the dry slope at Hillend. There are hundreds of different events throughout the year, and lots of socials."

EUSSC currently lists among its members the skier James Filsell, who has represented British Universities and is current on the Scotland team.

Meanwhile, Dan Breen, a former president of the club, competed in the student games in Beijing two years ago and went on to represent Great Britain.