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Ski firm offers to refund fines for term time holidays

A ski holiday firm is encouraging parents to take their children on holiday during term time by offering to refund fines imposed by schools.

Ski holiday firm MountainBase has offered to refund fines incurred by parents taking their children out of school for a ski trip Credit: Thomas Eisenhuth/DPA/Press Association Images

MountainBase, based in Bedford, ran a Facebook advert which read: "Are schools in the UK taking the piste! We think so".

The campaign has reignited the controversy over whether parents should be fined for taking children out of school for holidays.

The firm has now said that the offer is "no different" financially to those which over free ski passes or holiday slots to children, adding: "We do not condone such actions and leave the decision solely at the discretion of the parents."

PM among those congratulating Etherington

David Cameron was among a host of names congratulating Britain's Jade Etherington, after the the British skier won the women's visually impaired downhill:

A host of others took to the social network to tweet their thanks. Eventually, Etherington herself tweeted, though her celebrations were understated:

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Team GB grabs first medal in Sochi Paralympics

Jade Etherington and her guide Caroline Powell crowned their first season racing together by winning Great Britain's first Paralympic medal on snow in 20 years in Sochi.

Etherington, who celebrates her 23rd birthday on Sunday, is visually impaired and communicates with Powell down the course via radio.

The pair became the first British women ever to win a Paralympic skiing medal, despite the short time they've been racing together.

It was only last April that they first got to know each other, August they first skied competitively together and January this year they first competed as a pair in a downhill.

Merkel 'able to work' after ski injury

Chancellor Merkel will work from home where possible. Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

Angela Merkel must take it easy for three weeks and work from home where possible after a skiing accident, said her spokesman Steffen Seibert.

The accident happened last week when the Chancellor fell while skiing over the Christmas vacation.

"The chancellor is of course able to work and is in full communication," said Seibert. He added that Merkel's accident occurred "at low speed" but he declined to give further details. The chancellor has postponed a visit to Warsaw scheduled for Wednesday this week, Seibert added.

But she will lead a cabinet meeting on Wednesday which will be the first gathering of all the ministers in the new "grand coalition" government of her conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), which was formalised last month.

Injured Merkel 'cancels meetings for three weeks'

AFP's Berlin correspondent Deborah Cole says chancellor Angela Merkel has cancelled nearly all meetings for three weeks following a skiing accident.

Merkel 'broke pelvis' skiing

A journalist from German broadcaster Deutsche Welle says Angela Merkel has broken her pelvis in a skiiing accident.

GroKo is short for "grosse Koalition", a grand coaliton of the two large camps from centre-left and centre-right within German politics.

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Approved boot cover caused Mills 'intolerable pain'

The boot Heather Mills was made to wear to comply with International Paralympic Committee Olympic guidelines caused her "intolerable pain", her management company has said.

The IPC ruled that Mills' new adaptive equipment had not been ratified and she would not be able to compete in the skiing event in 2014 Sochi Paralympic games unless she reverted back to using the approved equipment.

The ex-wife of Paul McCartney subsequently abandoned her plans to compete and withdrew from the selection process - a decision the British Paralympic Association described as "sad".

Heather Mills has withdrawn from the selection process for the games. Credit: PA Wire

Mills' management company said the former model was "forced to wear a purely cosmetic, non-relevant full boot cover over her prosthetic leg, adding unnecessary weight and causing intolerable pain", according to the BBC.

The International Paralympic Committee refuted the suggestions and insisted all athletes had to abide by the same rules.

The authority reiterated that only approved adaptive equipment can be used in events.

IPC: Mills' 'disgraceful outburst left staff shocked'

Heather Mills' alleged outburst left the head of the Paralympic alpine skiing committee "extremely shocked and upset", according to a spokesman for the sporting authority.

"Heather's aggressive behaviour and verbal abuse has left Sylvana [Mestre] extremely shocked and upset," said Craig Spence, the International Paralympic Committee's Director of Communications, in a statement.

"Para-athletes are role models and an inspiration to billions of people around the world. This disgraceful outburst is not what we expect from any athletes competing in our competitions and will not be tolerated."

Heather Mills was hoping to compete in a ski event at the 2014 Sochi Paralympics. Credit: PA Wire

Mills claims Mestre shouted at her, with her management team accusing the IPC of waging a "vendetta" against her.

The IPC said the incident involving Mills and Mestre was witnessed by a number of people, and insisted Ms Mestre was just trying to enforce the rules and offer the former model a solution to the issue.

"There can be no excuse for such aggressive and intimidating behaviour towards such a highly respected and experienced official within the Paralympic Movement."

British Paralympic team 'saddened' by Mills' withdrawal

The British Paralympic Association has said they were "saddened" by Heather Mills' withdrawal from the selection process for the 2014 Sochi Paralympic game following a dispute with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) over her adaptive equipment.

The IPC have since accused Mills of "harassing a Paralympic official" after the decision, however the former model's spokesman claimed there was a "vendetta" against her.

In a joint statement, the British Paralympic Association and British Disabled Ski Team said: "The British Disabled Ski Team were informed by IPC Skiing that there was an issue with the adaptive equipment that Heather Mills was using that needed to be addressed before she would be allowed to compete.

Heather Mills was hoping to compete in a ski event at the 2014 Sochi Paralympics. Credit: PA Wire

"As a result of this and on the back of an injury, Heather Mills has decided to resign from BDST, thereby removing herself from the selection process for the Sochi Paralympic Games.

"Occasionally in sport equipment issues arise, especially with adaptive equipment and the interpretation of the rules in relation to its use.

"Therefore we are all saddened that she has decided to retire at this stage, rather than working with BDST and IPC Skiing to resolve the issue."

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