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First snow for Vanuatu athletes

Commonwealth athletes from a sun-drenched tropical island have experienced snow for the first time at an artificial Scottish slope.

The 11-member team from Vanuatu, an Pacific island nation over 1,000 miles east of Australia, sledged down the Soar slope at Braehead in Glasgow yesterday.

Team flag-bearer Yoshu Shing, 22, beat 16-year-old twins Rosanna and Roanna Abel in the race down the slope. All three competed in table tennis during the Commonwealth Games.

Mr Shing said: "We've never seen snow before because it never gets that cold in Vanuatu, so we were really excited to get the chance to play around on some.

"I might not have won a medal at the Commonwealth Games but winning gold at the sledging makes up for that.

"We've already had a great time while we have been in Glasgow, and this will be yet another brilliant memory to take home with us."

Ian Anderson, operations manager at Soar, said: "I'm sure seeing and touching snow for the first time and getting the chance to enjoy sledging was an amazing experience for the athletes.

"And in the middle of the Scottish winter, I'm sure lots of us would like to swap places with them to experience their fantastic sunshine instead of the freezing cold weather we normally get in Scotland."

Jamie Smith, owner of Snow Factor, said "We're delighted to welcome Team Vanuatu to Snow Factor and help them celebrate the end of their Games experience with a visit to our real snow slopes.

"Snow Factor provides real snow all year round, so it is fantastic that we are able to give them another unique experience while they are in Scotland."

Winter temperatures in Vanuatu are at least 22C and there has been no snow in the islands in living memory, even on the highest volcanic peaks.

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