A teenage skiing prodigy is heading to the Alps to compete against the best of the European racers from Switzerland, France and Austria.

Finlay Royle from Read, is heading into skiing’s winter season off the back of a tremendous 2023, which saw him selected for the 2023/24 Scottish Alpine ski team following some excellent results in Italy and Switzerland at the start of the year.

The 15-year-old’s success continued throughout a summer season spent outdoors on dry ski slopes and on snow at indoor venues, emerging as best ranked under-16s skier in the UK, and he currently sits number two nationally across all age groups – which has never been achieved at such a young age before.

Lancashire Telegraph: Finlay on the dry ski slopesFinlay on the dry ski slopes (Image: Burnley Leisure and Culture)

His standing comes from competing in the highest level of national races called the GBR Series, which is 10 races indoors and outdoors across England, Wales and Scotland where competitors accrue points based on results over the season, during which he broke numerous long-standing records.

Along the way, he won both the indoors and outdoors under-16s GBR Series, the British schoolboys indoors title, the Scottish dry slope championships at under-16s and overall, across all age groups, and the Welsh Open, among numerous other events.

Finlay has also been selected as a member of the English schools’ team and has been invited to train in Norway later in the winter. 

The Clitheroe Royal Grammar School pupil puts some of his success down to the extra training he’s been doing since he was awarded a free gym membership by Burnley Leisure and Culture (BLC), which operates the majority of leisure facilities in the borough previously managed by Burnley Council’s sport and culture services.

Finlay said: “The membership meant I could train two or three times a week all summer, around all the competitions. I’m really grateful for what it’s helped me to achieve.

“Being an elite athlete and GCSE PE student, I have a very good understanding of muscle groups and training strategies. I’ve worked hard on my core, shoulders, and legs to improve my skiing. I’ve also worked hard to improve my arms, just so I look a little better.

“I’ve seen massive gains in my performances, and I’ll continue to work hard to better myself. Let’s see how it helps me over the next 12 months of racing.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Finlay on the slopesFinlay on the slopes (Image: Burnley Leisure and Culture)

BLC’s head of group operations, Scott Bryce, said: "As a not for profit organisation we are here for our community, and we do all we can to help. Being able to support gifted young athletes like Finlay is something else we can offer thanks to our special status and its very gratifying for us to see him putting his free membership to such good use.”

Finlay, who started skiing at the age of six, is being guided by his dad Chris, who has previously worked as a ski instructor in Switzerland.

Chris added: “Finlay took to the sport amazingly well as soon as he started, and he’s been winning ever since.

“He’s worked really hard, so he deserves this success. He’s now beating older internationals, but he’s just so laid back with it. He’s been head and shoulders above everybody else in his age group this season.”

Finlay’s now set his sights on making the British team so he can compete for Team GB over this coming winter.