SPORTING fans are already glued to the Winter Olympics on TV, while many have taken to the slopes themselves here in the city.
The opening ceremony only launched the games this afternoon, but Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre at Matson have already noticed an increase in the number of people taking part in their new freestyle skiing events.
Manager Ian Lawrence said: “We are looking to run more freestyle skiing events, as they seem to be really popular with people at the moment.”
He said that there are even more freestyle skiing events at this year’s games in Sochi, Russia.
It is one of the newest disciplines to the Winter Olympics, having made its debut in 1992.
The centre in Matson Lane holds freestyle sessions every Friday from 7pm until 10pm, which have proved to be a real hit.
Ian added: “We are
the only centre in the country which has a permanent airbag, which allows racers to learn new tricks. It is a safe way to practice, because they can land on the soft bag.
“We also have one of the longest ski slopes in the South West which is used by both ski clubs and private tutors.”
Of the many members of Gloucester Ski Club who use the slopes on a regular basis, there are several keen hopefuls who could make it to future Olympic Games.
John Harrington, chair of Gloucester Ski Club, said: “We have about 35 skiers training hard at the moment.
“When the Winter Olympics come on, people generally take more of an interest.
“From everyone in my group, I would say Olivia Mitchell from Longlevens will be making it to the Winter Olympics in the future. She has just come back from an international competition in Italy. She is progressing well and is now in the under 14 group, even though she is only 12. I think if racers do not reach a certain stage by 16, they are unlikely to make it to the Olympics.”
Olivia’s dad Phil Mitchell, from Longlevens, said: “Olivia is out in the Alps at the moment training very hard for a competition which is taking place in two weeks’ times.
“She has been training so hard over Christmas. She manages to juggle her workload very well.”
Olivia is now preparing to take part in another competition in Italy. Alpine Skiing."
She said: “I am in the Alps training for the competitions, which I am really looking forward to.
“We do a good few hours of skiing in the morning,
followed by half a day of schooling.
“But we got some time off yesterday because it was snowing a lot.”
During the day, Olivia, who also enjoys playing netball, has to wax her equipment and watch video feedback from her training during the week.
Olivia added: “I would like to go to the Games in the future, but I am a bit far away from that right now.”
The 12-year-old from Longlevens took to the slopes at the tender of age of just two.
Since then, she has taken part in a number of competitions, picking up medals on her way.
In April 2012, Olivia returned from a successful winter skiing season in the Alps in Bormio, Italy, with eight medals.
In October of the same year, Olivia won the All England Ski Championship in Norwich.
In March last year, Olivia was crowned the girls Under-12 English Alpine Champion in Bormio, Italy, at the English Alpine Ski Championships.
The super star, who attends Cheltenham College, won fourth place at a competition two weeks ago and placed first in her age group.
She is now gearing up for the English International competition in two weeks time.
She said: “One day I would like to go to the Winter Olympics.
“I am a bit far from this but I am working hard.
“I will be watching all the British skiers during the Games,” she added.
The Winter Games will on Saturday see biathlon, cross-country, freestyle skiing, snowboard and speed skating races.