A winter of content – how Sochi Olympics should boost slope sports in the UK

Great Britain's Lizzy Yarnold, who won gold in the skeleton
Great Britain's Lizzy Yarnold, who won gold in the skeleton
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STANDING on a mountain surrounded by shimmering snow with a board strapped to your feet and your heart pounding in your chest.

It’s one of the greatest feelings in the world and one that I fell in love with as soon as I gave it a go.

BRIGHT FUTURE: Hartlepool Mail journalist Mark Thompson thinks Sochi will boost winter sports

BRIGHT FUTURE: Hartlepool Mail journalist Mark Thompson thinks Sochi will boost winter sports

Now I’m not a skilled snowboarder by any means – my bum and hands spend just as much time touching the snow as my board – but I love it all the same.

Watching the unbelievably talented British athletes in Sochi, Russia, has left me in awe and has fuelled my desire to slap on some goggles and hop on a ski lift.

And I’m sure it has done the same for millions of people across the world, whether they have tried it yet or not.

There is bound to be surge of interest in sports such as skiing, snowboarding and ice skating after watching a GB team on course to collect its biggest haul of Winter Olympics medals during the current Games.

It’s great for the sports that don’t get the coverage they deserve and great to carry on the legacy of the London Olympics in 2012 to get more people enjoying activities.

But it can seem daunting to get involved and it can be pricey.

I admit that I learned how to board on holiday in Bulgaria some years ago, but you don’t have to hop on a plane to enjoy the sport.

I’ve headed down runs on the Pennines and in Northern Scotland, tried out the indoor snow at Castleford and, even closer to home, I’ve had a go on the dry slope in Sunderland. All of them are brilliant experiences.

And it’s not just about the sports either. The communities around them are incredibly friendly.

You may have noticed during the current Games how much people respect each other. Winter sports really are all about the taking part.

So come join us and play in the snow. You won’t regret it.

And who knows. maybe there’s someone with hidden talents in Hartlepool and East Durham who could be hitting the South Korean slopes at the next Winter Olympics.

l Are you a winter sports enthusiast? Or maybe you’ve been practising your skeleton technique in your front room? We’d love to see pictures of your exploits. You can share photos with us on our Facebook page, Tweet us at @HpoolMail or email mail.news@northeast-press.co.uk