South Hampstead High School pupils have been celebrating after landing national skiing honours.
The squad was launched in 2014 with a just few girls who had never raced before travelling to the Hemel Snowdome and dry slope at Welwyn to learn how to race slalom. Five years on, girls have trained and competed in Scotland, Holland, Italy and France been crowned National Schools’ champions.
The senior and junior teams won bronze and individual Under 14 bronze at the British Independent Schools’ event at Milton Keynes at the start of the academic year. Then, after winning regional qualifiers, they competed at the prestigious English Schools Ski Association National Championships (ESSKIA). Hannah Sassower, Momo Daniel, Millie Whitmore and Maddy Fairfull (aged 11 and 12) skied two exciting runs of slalom to win the Under 14 national title, while a younger team of Alice Whitmore, Amelie Solti, Maya Rynehart and Alina Hendrickson (aged 9 and 10) took Under 12 bronze. A senior team of Anna Beinhocker, Leila Ward , Hannah Sassower and Maddy Fairfull, qualified for the British Schools’ Under 21 Championships at Hillend in Scotland, with five South Hampstead girls also selected for the English Schools’ National Primary and Junior Ski Squads with training at Landgraaf in Holland and Pila in Italy.
In January, a team went to Flaine for the British Schoolgirls’ races, where Sassower took silver and bronze in slalom and Giant slalom in unregistered U14. At the Independent Schools Association (ISA) slalom races at Hemel, the South Hampstead team of Sassower, Daniel, Fairfull and Freya Gordon took team gold in the ‘21 and under’ senior slalom and individual gold, despite all being U14s.
“It’s fantastic that South Hampstead, with no easy access to ski slopes and no ski programme, has achieved so much,” said one parent. “The girls have been phenomenal, training so hard and with such a wonderful sense of camaraderie across the year groups. The staff are incredibly supportive, enabling girls to pursue their passions.”
The squad are trained by Precise Racing’s Emily Evans and her sister Charlotte – a Sochi gold medallist – and train mainly at the Welwyn dry slope.
South Hampstead High School offers over 20 different sports through the curriculum and a broad range of co-curricular activities before, during and after school, enabling every girl to find her sporting niche. South Hampstead’s Going for Gold programme supports the school’s elite sportswomen competing at county, regional and national levels.
The article first appeared in the Ham & High on Thursday 9 May 2019.