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It’s downhill all the way for Lana

29th March 2007

A CAIRNGORMS youngster is swapping Scotland’s ski capital to learn her trade at one of Europe’s top winter sport destinations.

Lana Bourquin is flying off to Andorra on Friday (March 30th) to fulfil a life-time ambition – to become a snowboarding instructor.

The lack of snow in the Cairngorms this year meant she had to scrap plans to train there and is now heading off to the Pyrenees for a two-week working holiday.

She will be hoping to gain her British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI) qualification in snowboarding. BASI is one of the most prestigious qualifications of its kind and it will mean she will be able to work around the world.

The opportunity is thanks to a new bursary scheme being run in the Cairngorms National Park. Cairngorms Action for Training and Skills (CATS) provides funding and support to young people to train for a career in areas that are central to the Park’s aims – such as winter sports. Without CATS Lana, who is 16 and lives in Grantown-on-Spey, would have had to have waited years to become an instructor.

She said: “I always wanted to be an instructor since I started snow boarding, but I knew I would have had to have saved up for a long time to do any of the courses and would have just been helping out at CairnGorm Mountain, but that would have meant I would have been getting paid less as I’m not a qualified instructor. It would have cost me so much more to do the courses and it would have been a bit of a nightmare to get the money together.”

But at the start of the year help came along in the shape of CATS, which is being run by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA).

At present CATS provides participants with 80 per cent of the costs for their courses. It will also pay for Lana’s ski pass in Andorra. The bursary scheme supports young people aged 16-24 who live in the Cairngorms National Park and want to develop skills that will them get a career in areas aligned to the Park’s aims – such as tourism, conservation and farming.

Lana said: “I was really happy, it was such a good help and has made it so much easier for me to become an instructor. I never thought I would be able to get my qualification this quickly. I wouldn’t have been able to do it on my own.

“It is really good that the CNPA is helping people to get started in the careers they want.”

Lana is already a pro on the slopes. She first started ski-ing when she was just three-years-old, after her parents took her up CairnGorm Mountain.

“It was my parents who got me into it,” she said. “They were instructors and I was under their influence! I wanted to do what they were doing. I loved it straight away and was always up there.”

By the age of ten she had swapped her skis for a snowboard, preferring the ‘chilled out’ environment that came with it. And she always knew it was more than a hobby.

“I have never been an academic person; I have always been an outdoors person. I have been helping out with the ski-school the past few years and I love it.

“I have always wanted to get my instructors qualifications since I started snowboarding. I want to teach people what I love to do and why.”

But she insists her switch to Andorra is only temporary and that she will be using her qualifications to help CairnGorm Mountain, which she says are her favourite slopes.

Kate Christie, of the CNPA’s Economic and Social Development team and CATS’ project leader, said: “We are delighted that Lana has been given the chance to train as an instructor in one of Europe’s top ski destinations.

“She has always wanted to be a snowboard instructor and it is great that CATS has been able to help that happen – it embodies what CATS is about.

“She has shown great enthusiasm and commitment to fulfilling her dreams and we are sure she will do great with the course.

“What is fantastic is that she will be learning abroad and will be able to share good practice with another leading ski destination. She also wants to use the skills she learns to benefit the Cairngorms for future years. This is not only great for Lana, but for the Cairngorms National Park too. We wish her every success.”

Claire Ross, Education and Inclusion Manager at the CNPA, said: “The CNPA is committed to helping young people in the Park and creating opportunities that enable them to stay and work here.

“CATS plays a key role in that work and it is encouraging to see such a good success story with Lana. It shows just what can be achieved when we work with the young people who live in the Park and help deliver what they need.”

For more information on CATS or to apply contact Kate Christie on 01479 870 535 or email [email protected]