SADDLEWORTH SKIER Matthew Heginbotham capped a successful season’s racing at the English Alpine Championships, picking up a national title on the slopes of Bormio in Italy.
The 15-year from Greenfield headed a strong field in the championships that are organised by national governing body Snowsport England, to provide an early glimpse of the stars of tomorrow.
Matthew, a member of the British Ski Academy, was one of 400 of the country’s best alpine skiers descending upon the resort for the 20th running of the event, so had his work cut out.
But the Saddleworth School pupil proved he is one of the ones to watch, surging to victory in the under-16s Super G race as he pipped Charles Rankin by 0.33 of a second to claim the English national title.
And despite just missing out on a second podium finish in the slalom, finishing fourth in the final race of the week, Matthew was satisfied with a job well done in Bormio.
“I am really happy with taking the win. I wasn’t expecting it at all,” he said.
“The run felt alright, but it must have been faster than I thought. I worked a lot with my coaches on the line and I think that paid off.
“I tried to keep my run cleaner than the day before, not trying to skid too much. The start was alright then I thought I skied the banana gate well, standing up at the right time.
“I got a bit of air of the final roll, and then I came fast into the finish, so I was happy with that.
“This is definitely one of my better results of the season. I had two wins in Leogang at the Ambition Championships, but this is right up there.
“I love skiing, and intend to keep going and try and get to the top level of the sport.”
The English Alpine Championships are an important step for any young skier, with British Olympians Chemmy Alcott and Dave Ryding both having competed at the competition.
Matthew’s mother Tracy explained it has been a successful season with four podium finishes – two in Austria one apiece in Switzerland and Italy.
And there is the chance of further success for Matthew in March as he has been selected to ski for Great Britain in an international match in Topolino, Italy.
Then at the end of the month the British championships will bring the curtain down on the season.
Matthew, a former pupil at St Mary’s Primary, Greenfield, spends four months of the winter based in France and competing in events.
It means taking a whole term off school, though he trains in the mornings and does school work, sent by his teachers, in the afternoon.
Matthew’s sister Erika,17, has also been in action recently picking up two podium finishes in Italy in Super G and Alpine combined events.
Erika has scaled back her competitive programme as she is a swimming teacher and also training to become a PE assistant.
The English Alpine Championships, organised by Snowsport England, are run every year in the Italian resort of Bormio. Follow the action via www.englishalpinechamps.org.uk or @SnowsportEng on Twitter.
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