Hill of Witches, Slope of Champions

 Inghams Grand Prix Race 2 - Pendle

Pendle Hill, an 1800 feet giant of the Ribble Valley, home of the legendary witches and, in ski circles at least, the equally legendary Pendle Ski Club. A hill where if you canít see the valley below then itís probably raining and if you can see the valley base then itíll probably be raining soon. On a good day a blustery oasis of sheep, sunshine and ski slope.

 

Round 2 of the Inghams sponsored 2008 Snowsport Englandís Grand Prix series provided a complete contrast to controlled surroundings of Norfolk. Gone were the trees, manicured meadows and controlled descent of Norfolk, all replaced by one of Mother Natureís least manufactured backdrops and a rollercoaster of a ski slope that demands utmost respect from the start gate to the finish line. If you can ski fast here, then youíll be fast everywhere.

 Living proof of this fact is Pendleís very own David Ryding, darling of both summer and winter ski fraternities, and proof that you do not need to abandon plastic racing to achieve your ambitions on snow. His willingness to continue to contribute to plastic slope skiing is also wonderfully commendable, as were his actions in travelling down from a training camp in Aviemore to take part in forerunning duties.

 Indeed, great credit should go to the race organisers for assembling a trio of genuinely high quality forerunners.

 On the slope competition was as fierce as ever. In the ladies race Rachael Adcock dominated proceedings, posting the fastest time in run 1 before magnificently holding her nerve amongst the carnage of run 2 to obliterate the opposition with a truly superb effort that found her almost two seconds faster than any of the other females with the exception of overall runner up Emily Goddard. Third position overall was claimed by Lucy Peel who fought off a valiant effort from 4th placed Katie Adams, pipping her rival to the podium by 0.02 seconds, with Louise Bain finishing 5th.

 

In the categories 4rd place overall was enough for Katie Adams to claim the spoils in Junior 2 with Lauren Elliott (2nd)  and Melanie Wilcockson (3rd) completing the podium. In Junior 1 Lucy Peel proved too good for her rivals despite fine efforts from Jasmine Taylor in 2nd & the ever improving Claire Brown in 3rd. Louise Bainís excellent 5th overall was enough to claim top spot in Chi 2 category, despite excellent top-ten overall finishes for Stephanie Davies (2nd) & Bethany Widdup (3rd). In the younger children category Emma Peters took the honours on her Grand Prix debut, followed home by Kelly Greenbank 2nd and Georgia Hallett 3rd.

 

In the male race Nick Robinson continued his fine early season form by claiming overall victory. With two extremely demanding courses accounting for a number of his rivals challenges Robinson not only survived where others perished but also managed to produce the fastest run on each course in deservedly collecting overall top spot.

 

In Alex Jeal, Robinson found his sternest and most durable rival. As the challenges of Stuart Riches, Benn Hall plus home slope heavyweights Andy Roose & Bradley Morganís all ended in any manner of directions Jeal maintained his challenge with a trademark brace of clean and powerful runs to claim 2nd Place both overall and in the Junior 2 category. Dan Wyatt ensured Pendle representation on the podium following home in 3rd in front of Marcus Orrell in 4th with Michael Molloy extending his impressive start to the season with 5th.

 

With Molloy also taking the honours in Junior 1, Andrew Davies posted 2nd in category closely followed home by Charles Richardson in 3rd whilst in Children 2 Samuel Fairburn justified the huge trek up from Southampton to claim top spot followed by James Gibb (2nd) and Michael Knowles (3rd). In Children 1 Daniel Poth again underlined his fine recent form with a hugely impressive brace of runs to claim an excellent 8th overall and 1st in category, with Ashley Breeseís 9th overall good enough for the category runners up spot and Robert Pothís 11th overall guaranteeing him a category 3rd.

 

As ever, Pendle Hill had provided the ultimate test for competitors young and old alike. Yet again the Carnoustie of the dry slope skiing world sorted the wheat from the chaff and provided us with, in Adcock and Robinson, a pair of truly worthy winners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four weeks from now the North East coastline awaits as the rollers of Sunderland prepare to pit themselves against the cream of British skiing. The series is wide open, everything is still up for grabs. Whoíll prevail at Sunderland is anyoneís guess. The only certainty is that youíd be a fool to give it a miss.

 

All published photographs courtesy of Racer Ready