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Shock as Cairngorm snowsport school closes for the winter

The announcement follows the closure of the hillside funicular as it undergoes repairs.

Closed: The snowsports school will not open this winter.
Closed: The snowsports school will not open this winter.

Skiing in Aviemore this winter is on its last legs as dozens of instructors were told the snowsports school will not open this season.

The shock announcement was reportedly sent by CairnGorm Mountain's operator to staff via email and follows the recent closure of the hillside funicular as it undergoes urgent repairs.

It is feared the hillside railway will remain closed for the whole winter, damaging Aviemore's economy and the resort's reputation.

News of the snow school closure emerged on Friday - the first day of snow this winter. Instead of preparing to welcome crowds, the email read: "Due to the impact of the current closure of the Cairngorm Funicular Railway, it has been decided that whilst we are awaiting the technical report on the status of the funicular, we will not be operating a snow school this 2018/19 winter season.

"I know that this may be difficult for you and we hope that by informing you at the earliest possible opportunity, this will allow you to seek other instructing roles.

"As the winter progresses we will be continually assessing the situation and we will keep you all informed. Should we be in a position to offer you other roles within the company over the winter then we will also keep you informed.

"We would like to thank for all of your commitment and hard work in the past and wish you well."

Railway: The funicular is undergoing repairs.
Railway: The funicular is undergoing repairs.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) owns CairnGorm Mountain and leases it to leisure company Natural Retreats, to be operated by CairnGorm Mountain Ltd.

The operators could not be contacted for comment.

'It'll have a significant impact on many people locally who rely on the income from working as ski instructors.'
Save The Ciste spokesperson

Save The Ciste (STC), a campaign set up to rescue the mountain's chairlifts from closure and destruction, is "disappointed" with the news.

A spokesperson told STV: "The STC campaign is dismayed by the announcement about the closure of the snow school this winter.

"It'll have a significant impact on many people locally who rely on the income from working as ski instructors.

"We're very disappointed with the operator's decision because it has been made in advance of any announcement about obtaining a TechnoAlpin Snowfactory and additional snow cannons that could be deployed on the lower slopes to provide an area where instruction could be undertaken.

"We'd like HIE to end the lease agreement with their tenant because they have proved to be ineffectual.

"We'd also like the CairnGorm Estate, which includes the mountain business, to be transferred from ownership by HIE to the local community."

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