SWEDEN ”Everyone falls, it's all part of it!” shouts the veteran skier encouragingly to Bellevie Landu, aged 17, from Congo-Kinshasa, who struggles to her feet after falling over on her skis for the very first time. 

She has never been on a pair of skis before, but thanks to a collaboration between the Swedish Ski Association, the SK United ski club and Vattenfall, she has the opportunity, together with around thirty other young people with immigrant backgrounds, to make her debut as a skier at the Stockholm Olympic Stadium.

"Difficult, but fun!" is Bellevie's take on her first lap of the snow-covered oval track. She says it in Swedish, although she has only been living in Sweden for seven months.

She attends Sprintgymnasiet secondary school in Stockholm where the aim is for pupils from different cultures and countries to learn the language quickly, thus enabling them to enter Swedish society more easily. 

Bellevie Landu with trainer Inger Albåge

Together with thirty or so novice skiers from Sprintgymnasiet she shares the ski track with experienced skiing enthusiasts who swish past in the overtaking lane.

But after just a few laps, the difference in speed has decreased.  Jafiet, aged 16, from Eritrea, has got the hang of the technique and thinks it is enjoyable and ”quite easy”.

Somewhat younger beginners from various youth recreation centres are also present. They have just had an introduction from Stephan Wilson, well-known from TV and born in Sweden to parents with immigrant backgrounds, and who never skied as a child. He has now taken on the challenge of going from complete beginner to tackling the Vasa ski race in six months with the help of some of the country's major skiing stars. He shows the young people video clips from his own first fumbling attempts:

“Skiing is difficult in the beginning, but don't give up, you'll enjoy it once you've mastered it. And at the same time you'll be taking a step right into Sweden. Skiing has opened up completely new doors for me, I have got to know so many new people.“

Two skiing enthusiasts, Toya Westberg och Jenny Eidolf, from the ski club have enticed the young people to have a go. They want everybody to have the chance to discover the fascination and joy of skiing.

"We want to show how wonderful it can be in winter. I still enjoy skiing so much that I go around yearning for the winter," says Jenny Eidolf.

Vattenfall provided skis, ski boots and poles for all the participants to borrow. The company is a long-standing sponsor of the Ski Association, which runs a ski project, ”Alla på snö [Everybody on snow]”, where fourth grade pupils from throughout the country have the chance to try out skiing.  The beginners day in the Olympic Stadium was a special version of the project, with the aim of making skiing available for everyone.

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