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Chills, thrills and ski-slope skills: Olympian Ben Kilner visits Manchester’s Chill Factore

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Benjamin Francis Cassidy

Manchester’s Chill Factore, home to the UK’s longest real snow indoor ski-slope recently held a ‘Freestyle with the Stars Day’. This event was held to celebrate the beginning of the winter snow sports season, much like the beginning of the Premier League each May, only for those who are more into high-octane chill-thrills than football.

Ben Kilner, Olympic Snowboarder for team GB appeared on the day, having gained a name for himself following successes since the tender age of sixteen, which he repeatedly built on, until finally qualifying for the honour of representing his country in the Winter Olympics in 2010, in Vancouver, and again in Sochi in 2014.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ - 03/11/16 - Commercial - Ben Kilner Snowboarding - Chill Factore - Manchester, England - Ben Kilner takes a masterclass to demonstrate his skills to others.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/

Eight lucky competition winners got to spend time with Ben on the day, and learn from their idol, as they took on the freestyle park together, in a special, exclusive training session which Ben delivered. One person lucky enough to take part was beginner Anne-Marie, who accompanied her son there. She gave her view, commenting, “[Ben] was awesome and very patient with me, as a newbie. I was glad to be pushed out of my comfort zone and land some new tricks”.

Others who met Ben included up-and-coming youngsters in the sport. Amongst them were: Chill Factore English Slope-Style Champion, Lewis Hopkinson, (aged 10); The 2014 British Slopestyle Champion, Mia Brooks, (aged 11; and 2014 Chill Factore English Boardercross Champion, Nate Hopkinson (aged 13). All got the opportunity to hone their talents tactics alongside a real Olympian.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ - 03/11/16 - Commercial - Ben Kilner Snowboarding - Chill Factore - Manchester, England - Ben Kilner at the Chill Factore in Manchester.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/

Despite his reputation and status in the sport, Ben, who is on track to qualify appear in the 2018 Winter Olympics, remained humble and showed his support for the importance of developing these youngsters. He commented, “It was to ride alongside others who share my passion for snowboarding. Being able to pass on my knowledge and advise boarders of various ability was a great way to get people excited for the upcoming 2016/2017 season.”

With such words of encouragement from someone like Ben, who has worked so hard to get where he is, perhaps it will be one of these youngsters who themselves go on to achieve great things in the future.

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