TWO brothers are planning for a sibling showdown next month when they battle it out on the slopes of Switzerland in the British Freeski Championships.
Robert and James Machon from Bamford, north Derbyshire, have been top skiers in the England team since they were in their early teens.
James, aged 21, has held the British Freeski Champion title for the last three years, while 19-year-old Robert recently qualified for the British University Indoor Championships at the end of this month, at SNO!zone, Castleford.
The brothers are studying at Leeds Metropolitan University, where they are taking degrees in sports coaching and sports performance.
Both have just returned from America, where Robert finished fourth in the Gatorade Freeflow Tour and James was 29th in the Dew Tour, the second biggest skiing competition in the world.
Freeski has grown out of the popularity of snowboarding and sees competitors taking on tricks, jumps and obstacles such as rails, boxes or jibs placed on specially-designed parks.
Robert said: “We started skiing with our parents on family holidays and when I turned 11 we started racing training at Sheffield Ski Village.
“We competed in racing for a year and started doing freestyle as well, which we found we prefer. We then began competing, which was something we wanted to do as we’re both competitive.
“We’re both feeling really good about the British championships - it will be our seventh year in a row and James will be looking to defend his title.
“We are used to competing against each other, but it’s a big positive as we train together and push each other to get better. James tends to beat me, so it’s always good motivation for me to keep improving.”
Both brothers have been inspired by a recent decision to make the freestyle ski halfpipe an Olympic event.
James said: “I couldn’t be happier because I love ski halfpipe and now it’s an Olympic event, hopefully the sport will explode and become one of the most entertaining sports to watch and participate in.”