IN calm Italian mountains and a picturesque covering of snow, a sharp sound breaks the silence.
Board on snow, the sound cuts for a minute before a thud signals the resumption of the sequence.
Leigh’s Nicole Haines is in town.
The nine-year-old champion snowboarder is raising her game, not that she has much chasing to do when it comes to rivals.
After a demanding training camp in Italy, the winter sport starlet is on a mission to become the best athlete she can, and has even earned the backing of MP Andy Burnham.
Mum Rachel said: “Andy Burnham said GB did well when Jenny Jones won a snowboarding bronze medal in Sochi, but we can go even better with a Leigh girl.”
The Italy training camp in early March is another step on Nicole’s journey. She has taken her chosen sport by storm since picking up a snow board for the first time in August 2012, and her time on the slopes last month was filmed by snowboard enthusiasts, Why Ain’t You Jibbin?
She bagged gold in the under-12s boardercross SSBX championships last summer but refused to rest on her laurels and won the Scottish National Championships this year at Cairngorm Mountain, her first event on real snow.
“The conditions in Scotland were horrendous,” added Rachel.
“But Nicole just got on with it - did her thing and did us proud.”
Nicole keeps fit by being active what seems like all the time, not just when she has her feet planted on a board, and takes part in a list of sports so long it’s hard to keep track.
When she isn’t tumbling, trampolining, or skateboarding, she can be seen BMXing or even boxing.
“She has an awesome time training, and loved every minute in Italy,” her mum continued.
“Snowboarding is her number one passion.”
And with endorsements also coming from Leigh Centurions board member, Trevor Barton MBE, Nicole’s profile is sure to rise with her storming progress.
The Leigh CE Juniors pupil is now preparing for Kendal K Jam in May, a dry slope competition which celebrates the snowboard scene with fierce competition and music.