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Phoebe Arnott, 14, is a competitive slalom skier who trains with the Ravens Tigers Ski Racing and Development Club, at Silksworth dry slope in Sunderland, while older sister Mae, 16, has been playing rugby since the age of ten and is on an England player pathway.

The pair, from Bishop Middleham, dedicate hours of training each week to their sports around their studies at Durham High School, with the unwavering support of parents, Carl and Johanne Arnott, and brother Alex, who has cerebral palsy and requires round-the-clock care.

Phoebe recently returned from Geilo, Norway, where she trained in slalom and alpine racing with a national squad specially selected by ESSKIA (the English Schools Ski Association).

Over the past 18 months, she has demonstrated her prowess on dry slopes, notably qualifying for the All England Championships and securing 8th place in the U14 slalom race, as well as clinching 4th place in the same category at the North Wales Snowsports Club National 2023.

She intends to enter further club and national race competitions to improve her seed points and secure a place at the British Championships in Scotland this year. She also hopes to compete at the English Alpine Championships in Bormio, Italy, in 2025.

Phoebe, a Year 8 pupil at Durham High School, said: “I enjoy skiing because I like the feeling of going through the gates! I also like the community around me – everyone is so friendly. I was so happy when I was chosen to represent Durham High School on the ESSKIA team; I felt proud.”

Mae, who is in Year 11 and will be sitting her GCSE exams at the independent girls’ school this summer, has played club rugby for the last six years. Currently a member of Houghton Rugby Club, she has been on the England pathway with England Rugby Girls’ Developing Player Programme for the last two years.

Dad Carl, a former rugby player who coaches at Houghton, said: “Mae spends a lot of time and effort doing her club training and her strength and conditioning through the developing player programme.

“Both girls have fantastic attitudes to their chosen sports. It’s really nice as a parent to see them trying really hard and developing well. As a coach I see how hard Mae trains, as does her sister.”

Mum Johanne said: “Watching the girls excel in their sports is great for us as a family. Our son, Alex, has required a lot of our time, particularly when the girls were young, because we didn’t have any help with his care. Now he has carers to support him it’s allowed us to focus on our girls and really encourage and support them.”

Michelle Hill, Headmistress at Durham High School, praised the girls for their attitudes. “I’m immensely proud of Phoebe and Mae’s ability to balance their sporting achievements with their academic studies. Their dedication and commitment serve as inspiring examples to their peers, embodying Durham High School’s ethos of excellence in all pursuits.”