Eddie the Eagle backs campaign to save Gosling dry ski slope
PUBLISHED: 12:08 17 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:36 17 October 2018
From a three-year-old budding Paralympian, a homegrown ski trainer, to Eddie the Eagle himself, more voices have joined the debate on what to do with Gosling dry ski slope.
Famed Olympian Michael Edwards - known to many as Eddie the Eagle - has revealed that he regularly used Gosling dry ski slope when he lived in Bedford in the 1990s.
In 1988, he was the first skier since 1928 to represent Great Britain at ski jumping at the Olympics.
Since this time he has been a staunch defender of dry ski slopes.
“I would back the campaign to keep the slope running,” he told the Welwyn Hatfield Times. “I loved skiing there.”
“Dry ski slopes are an important part of British skiing,” he added. “They’re great racing slopes and more affordable to most people who want to have a go at skiing.
“I owe everything to my local dry ski slope - without it, I wouldn’t have got to the Olympics.”
He’s added his voice to local calls to save the slope including the family of little Millie Sinnott, who was born without a fully formed left hand.
Millie “instantly” took to the sport last week, according to granddad Iain, spurring his hopes that she might one day follow in the footsteps of Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey or Eddie himself.
The Gosling slope has been proposed as one of several possible housing sites as part of the council’s Local Plan, but the move has prompted a campaign.
Iain said: “Frankly this sort of short-sightedness staggers me.
“We need to be building more sports facilities for the community to use, not knocking unique assets like this down.
“If you can afford the prices in Hemel Snow Centre and have the time and transport to get there then great, but working parents, single parents and those on really tight budgets just haven’t got that option.
“If this centre goes then it’s over forever. Unlike football pitches, you can’t just find the next flat bit of ground.”
The operator of Gosling Sports Park, GLL, advised the council at a Local Plan hearing on June 26 that it doesn’t think the slope works efficiently.
Though it is officially part of Gosling, the ski slope is largely volunteer-run and at the hearing GLL said it does not plan to invest further in it.
GLL also said that its usage is low - something that campaigners disagree with.
GLL has not responded to requests for the usage figures they presented to the council at the June hearing.
Ski instructor Alex Reidy, who grew up in Hatfield and spent much of his teens on the slope, works with Team Evolution, which outside the winter months works to coach young athletes across the UK.
“The slope is a hub for ski racing in the London region, and to list what goes on there would require a much longer comment!” he told the Welwyn Hatfield Times.
This year, pupils from Nicholas Breakspear and Onslow St Audreys were coached by Alex’s team to the point they can enter the London Schools Race which is held at Gosling. ““Losing the slope would have a massive negative impact on the ski race community,” he said.
He is planning to get captains from nearby clubs, Snowsport England, and the Winter Sports Foundation to join a show of support on November 7.
“Don’t get me wrong, I know we need new housing,” said 51-year-old Iain, who thinks the slope is as iconic in Welwyn Garden City as the Shredded Wheat factory. “This is not a NIMBY response to a reasonable plan.
“We could move on to a different centre but what about the next generation like Millie, who need a low-cost start to create that passion?” he asked.