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Sochi Winter Olympics to leave legacy in South Lakeland
3:46pm Wednesday 5th March 2014 in News
THE 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are set to leave a lasting legacy in South Lakeland.
Kendal Snowsports Club estimate that since the games they have had a 20 per cent increase in uptake for their open sessions and taster sessions.
The volunteer-run club has also had a boost from its most famous member – Settle-born halfpipe skier Emma Lonsdale, who made her Olympic debut in Sochi and placed 18th.
Chair Peter Townley said Olympic fever has seen the artificial slope become ‘choc-a-block’ and brought a whole new generation to the sports.
“I’ve never seen anything like it – we’ve had all kinds of enquiries from people who have never skied or boarded.”
Mr Townley credited the success of the games to a combination of extensive media coverage, the popularity of the new events and the ongoing effect of London 2012.
“I think people had their appetites whetted by the summer Olympics and Sport England have managed to keep the ball rolling in this country.”
With the increasing popularity of snowboarding – a relatively new addition to the Winter Olympics – the club, based at Canal Head, has seen a big upsurge in interest from 18-25-year-olds.
Mr Townley said the Winter Olympics had also been instrumental in making snowsports more accessible.
“That is really vital because we have always had to battle against the perception of snowsports as being expensive and elitist.
“It’s not - we have joiners, butchers and brickies among our members.”
Emma Lonsdale said the success of British athletes at Sochi showed ‘you can reach any level from the facilities we have in the UK’.
“I hope it encourages people to get to their local dry ski slopes and give these sports a go.”
Coun Graham Vincent, Health and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder for South Lakeland District Council, said: “Sporting events - away from football - have really started to capture people’s imagination and I am sure these games will energise many people to take up a new sport.”
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