Commentary: Seventh grader Talitha Stern competes in British Interschool Ski Challenge

Talitha Stern, in addition to competing at the ski challenge, was also permitted to wear the ASL colors and represent the school (photo courtesy of Ms Stern).

Skiing is my passion and as a seventh-grader, I am very proud to have been allowed to be the first person to represent ASL in the British Interschool Ski Challenge in Pila, Italy March 18-19 Last year I wrote an article for The Scroll, expressing my wish to introduce competitive sports for middle schoolers, and then I followed up with the idea of creating a ski team. Despite not having any proper mountains,  most private British schools have ski teams. Some train their students during the week in indoor training centers located just outside London; others take them away for a  ski week – which culminates in a race.

I met with Middle School Assistant Principal Ms. Katie Shefren in January, telling her about my wish to take part, and then spoke to Middle School Athletic Director Mr Akay Mustafa about what I should wear, as I do remember from my days in a London school, that the British love their uniforms We agreed I would wear the ASL colors, so that I would be on par with the other kids. I wore an orange, black, and white catsuit with “ASL SKI TEAM” written on the right leg and the left arm, together with a white jacket with the ASL logo on the back. I did hold my breath when I saw my ASL Ski outfit.

Day one of the event was the giant slalom day, where children aged all the way from U10 to U21 could participate. I was given my bib number, and was both very eager to represent ASL in my first ever interschool ski challenge and scared as I didn’t know what it would be like. I spoke to a few children I recognised from either my previous London school, or from meeting them in races where I ski with my family. Some skiers were truly amazing.

Luckily the sun was out which compensated for the freezing weather. Once up the mountain, I first got to inspect the slalom and then by 9 am I was in the starting block. When my English teacher Ms Steege signed my pre-approved absence form she wrote “Ski Fast,” and I made sure I did, as I came 23rd out of 100. Keeping in mind I am 12 years old, I raced in the U14 category – which does make it quite tough. 

The next day, was slalom day – which is my favorite. When racing in a slalom, it is mandatory to wear protective face, leg and arm gear, in addition to the usual back protector. I love slalom and really enjoyed the second racing day. As I knew where I was going, I dared a little more than on day 1, and therefore fell in the second run. Taking risks is supposedly a good thing!

Taking part in the British Interschools Ski Challenge was a fabulous experience. Not only did I make new friends, but I discovered a new resort, I tried to manage the dreaded fear of my name being said  followed by “Ready when you are,” and most importantly I qualified for the Final British Children’s’ championships. 

Whilst in Pila last week, I was fortunate to speak to a few sports coaches who said that their school’s ski team originally started with one family, and now 40 of their students were taking part. I am very grateful I was allowed to go and would love to have other ASL students join me next year so that we could have a proper team. 

About Talitha Stern ('24)

Staff Writer

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