IT HAS been a busy but successful start to the year for Colne skier Bethany Widdup who has enjoyed her first podium finishes of the season and personal best times.

The former Clitheroe Royal Grammar School pupil has taken part in 11 races across Europe and has twice secured a top three place.

Widdup, 18, picked up back-to-back third place finishes, first in St Moritz and then in Champery for the Welsh Championships.

She has also secured personal best times in Germany, Champery and St Moritz.

Her success so far as seen her earn a place on the British CIT team - another stepping stone for her towards her ultimate goal of qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

However there have been a few bumps and bruises along the way, crashing in the grand slalom in Santa Caterina, Italy and did not compete in the second race due to illness.

The year began strongly for Widdup in Germany finishing 21st with a score71.80 points - a personal best at the point.

However she improved on that pb on the Bad Wisessee course with a 16th place in 58.68secs, bringing her slalom points down even more.

However after the highs of Germany came the lows of Italy and a crash and illness meant she did not pick up any points in Santa Caterina.

Not to be deterred, Widdup travelled to St. Moritz for the Swiss University races where she achieved her first podium finish of the season.

That was quickly followed by another at the Welsh Championships in Champery.

“I had a good slalom first run, placing me second British girl, 0.13 seconds behind the first GBR girl and with another PB of 87.07secs,” said Widdup who is member of the Ambition Race Academy “However, due to a hard set course and deteriorating snow conditions, the second run was a fight to stay in the course and I unfortunately made an error, losing a lot of speed. However, I managed to finish and gained my second podium of the season with another third overall.”

There was no chance to wallow in her success as it was eight hour drive to Passo Rolle in Italy – a course Widdup had not skied before. But she was happy with her two performances, finishing 22nd in 78.20 on the Saturday followed by a 17th place the following day with a time of 71.96secs.

“In both slalom races, I had one good run that I was happy with, but made a few mistakes in my second run, resulting in lost time, added Widdup who is coached by Carl Ryding and Marc Telling.

“Although it wasn't as successful as it could have been, my coach and I were very happy with the runs and it is now a matter of working hard to produce consistent performances on two runs.”

And Widdup will get the chance to do that at the English Championships in Bormio, Italy.

“With a few weeks training, I can work on the little things and hopefully change them for the next set of races, which will be the English Championships,” she added.

“With over half of the season done, I am happy with my progression both technically and in my results in both slalom and grand slalom, more so in the former, which I have always been more confident in,”

“It was also satisfying to get my first two podiums for overall positions under my belt, and it’s now a case of building on that and hopefully getting more.”

n Bethany Widdup’s main sponsor is Walkers Bakers and Chocolatiers in Skipton. She is also supported by The Lancashire Rising Star Fund, Chill Factore, Dewhurst Torevell and Pendle Leisure Trust's Talented Young Athlete Scheme.