The Half-Term is over blog

So the madness of half term has passed and we now only have another week of snow-blading French school holidays to endure before the season rolls on into March and we can get back to having the mountains more or less to ourselves. (seriously though, I saw snow-bladers with matching jackets today – WTF?)

yeah, ‘piste ferme’ – you like ‘shredding’ grass and rocks?

 Half-term week was mental and it was the first time so far this season that I’ve actually looked forward to a day off from ski teaching and skiing in general.  I’ve been skiing about like a blue-arsed fly between a great set of clients this week, mainly because I avoided the cours collectifs and managed to get on the private lessons for the week.

This meant that I spent a great week teaching a couple of groups of English kids to ski and got to spend a very enjoyable morning skiing freshies with a husband who turned up instead of his wife on a powder day.  (He said that this was down to his wife being ‘tired’ but I reckon he looked out of the window and saw a powder day and hit the snooze button on her alarm :))

It’s finally snowed in Chatel and judging from some of the places I was skiing today, there has been at least half a metre fallen in the last week or so. Slopes that were green are white again and it’s great to see snow hanging in the trees once more. Everyone in the village is a lot happier and a lot of the tension in the air caused by the lack of snow has now gone.

I am becoming very adaptable in my work out here, doing other jobs when I’m not ski teaching, things as diverse as airport transfer driving, handyman stuff and even being a bouncer on the door of The Avalanche Pub. The latter job of course, being the reason I am glad that everyone is a little less tense..

With the bulk of the season out of the way, we’re looking forward to a few good weeks of school groups coming up to Morgins for March and then a short burst of Easter school holidays in early April. For now though, when this week is over and the French go home, maybe, just maybe, we can get some late dumps of snow and then it’s all ours to go play with.

online here

x x x


10 reasons why it’s great being a ski instructor

10 reasons why being a Ski Instructor is the greatest job in the world (in no particular order);

1. Free lift pass for the Portes du Soleil. 650kms of pistes to rip on your day off.

2. Ski Instructor Jacket. It looks really cool and anecdotally I’m told that it’s the best pulling tool there is. I cannot verify this claim though as clearly, I am married and my pulling boots have long since been retired. But I have noticed a certain aura in bar situations that would mean it would be fairly straightforward even for a funny looking mug like me.

3. ‘Passage reservé pour les Ecoles de Ski.’

4. It’s your actual job to blast back to the village from the top of the mountain at a million miles an hour. If I blast past you going straight down the red run you think looks like the North Face of the Eiger, then I’ve kept the myth alive that we are all amazing skiers and not just alcoholics.

5. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to make people ski better to the point that they start enjoying themselves instead of being scared. I lose track of the amount of times I’m giving high fives and hugs to clients because I’m so happy they’ve progressed.

6. Making skiing with one ski only look easy.

7. There is a certain privilege that comes with people coming to you and putting their entire trust in you that you won’t let any harm (most of the time..) come to them or their kids.

8. Getting an awesome suntan going on.

9. Being part of making someone’s one week annual ski holiday great. This can be easily forgotten when you live out here but it’s something that I try to tell myself every day. These guys all have to go back somewhere after this and it’s about making their week/day/hour as good as possible.

10. Working with kids. This is something that I am surprised that I enjoy so much, given that I’d had limited contact with them before I started doing this but I’m constantly amazed at the tenacity of these little guys. They have no fear and are happy to try new things which normally makes for quick learning and a fun week.

published here

Interview with Maria Ramberger

This interview was just published on Mad Dog Ski, you can read it here


Maria Ramberger is Austria’s top female Snowboard Cross (SBX) rider. She was at the Olympics in Vancouver 2010 competing with the Austrian National team and came 4th in the 2010 Aspen Winter X Games.

The 24-year old recently placed 5th at the World Cup event in Lech and is a fast rising star in the world of Snowboard Cross with a string of top ten results. Maria just finished 10th at the SBX World Championships in Spain.

So where are you today?

I’m at home in Klosterneuberg, Austria today. That’s a question you put a lot of thought into? (laughs).

I’m starting slowly. How is your season going so far?

So so. I got 5th at my first race in Lech, Austria but I messed up Telluride, USA when I made a stupid mistake during my first qualification run and crashed. At the World Champs, I was still a bit beat because I got sick before and spend a week in bed. Finally I got 10th which might not be unbelievably awesome but certainly okay. Hopefully awesome at the next race which would be at the Winter X-Games

Highs and lows I guess. I know that you put in a lot of extra pre-season training at Saas Fee this summer. What difference has this made over last season?

It actually made a big difference. This is the first season that I can remember that I’m not scared. I just see something like a big jump or a scary turn and I WANT to try it out. I can do the big jumps in the parks and I love it. It feels like the first time I actually know what I’m doing – which is funny since I’ve been doing this for quite a while now but it just doesn’t really show in my results yet… which makes me a tiny bit grumpy (laughs).

Your 5th place at Lech was your best result on the SBX World Cup Tour. You must be pretty pleased?

Yes and no. I was not riding particularly well that day except for the small finals (places 8 to 5 which I won) so no, I’m not pleased. With the result yes, absolutely but honestly I didn’t feel like I quite earned it and at the same time I think I can actually do better than 5th. Do I sound silly? I think I do sound silly but that’s how I feel about it.

No comment. What’s going through your mind in the start gate?

Too much or nothing at all. It’s different every time but I try to focus on just starting. Of course I think about the course or about where I could possibly overtake or which start gate to choose but I try to mostly think about that stuff the evening before. Once you’re actually in the start gate it’s too late to think about tactics.

And the ‘cross courses, although they appear straightforward on TV, I assume they are just one big ice chute? I went on the one in Saas and it was pretty full on – no time to rest or think.

And you were rubbish at it! (laughs)  Yes. If it’s a good course you’ll be able to go full speed all the way. If you speed check then you’ll lose. As for one big ice chute, during the season there is everything from fresh snow, to slush and ice. You’ve got to be able to keep up no matter what conditions.

So the glamorous life of a SBX pro. Does it get lonely travelling from place to place, hotel room to hotel room?

Mean question! I mean you’re never actually alone. There are always people around you. And as I said I really like the team and I love travelling, I never get homesick and I’m not amongst those complaining about airplanes, foreign food and the absence of my own oh so awesome bed.

Of course you get lonely, of course there are moments where you wish you’d be with the people you left behind but then again, the time of the year where you’re really on the road is only three months. The rest of the year you get to hang out with pretty much whoever you like.

So what do you do in the off season and what do you do to wind down when you aren’t training or racing?

Catch up with my friends, hang out and then err, go travel again on my own! But not to see countries more to do stuff whereever. It’s not like ‘let’s go see Paris or the North Pole’ it’s more like ‘ oh let’s learn surfing, go biking, hang out’

Compared to the alpine team, I guess boarder cross doesn’t have the same profile in Austria. Is it difficult attracting sponsors and finding the budget for your season?

Oh yes! Difficult doesn’t quite describe it. I somehow always get the money together but I also always get to the point somewhere mid-season where I’m like, ‘this is interesting, how am I going to pay the next bill’. But up till now it always worked out somehow.

Where are your favourite resorts to board in for fun, assuming you get to?

My favourite resorts (thinks). I’d say Saas Fee but I also love Colorado. Telluride is really nice. Kind of like Aspen but smaller, more comfy. Mountain Village is this really pretty little place high up and yes I get to snowboard for fun although it never really seems like work anyway.

And finally, where is your home hill and would you recommend it to boarders and skier from the UK?

I don’t really have a home resort but I spent lots of years in Schladming. It’s definitely very nice there and I’d recommend everyone to come and visit but today I’m more of a nomad, spending time here and there. Wherever I think the conditions are best

Actually, I have four other little questionettes for you;

Cats or dogs?

Cats or dogs? What do I want to have as a pet, or what do I identify more, or what do I like better?

Cats or Dogs?


Red or blue?


Dance or rock?


Die Hard or Back to the Future?

I haven’t seen Die Hard.

Maria currently competes on the Snowboard Cross World Cup Tour and would like to thank her sponsors PAY LIFE, Apex Snowboards, Deeluxe Boots and Toko. You can visit her website at

Photos copyright of Markus Schiller –


I always seem to go out in Chatel on the wrong night. 
Snowy Chatel (just to remind you all what it looked like)

In the Avalanche Bar, Tuesday night is always a pretty big night with various themes.  Last week it was neon, this week I’ve been gearing up for moustache night but given that I had a rare free day to myself today, I got smashed up last night and now I’m going to miss yet another Tuesday night.  I know I’ll get a load of hassle for this but I’m working tomorrow and ski teaching with a hangover just isn’t fun.
After the chaos of the hot weather week last week, things are back to normal here now with cold temperatures meaning that the snow cannons are in action.  Because of the limited snow that seems to be a problem with the whole of the alps, the afternoons aren’t great with most of the top snow scraped off leaving sheet ice to play on.
This might account for the massive amount of injuries and constant ambulances and helicopters flying about.  The other night there were apparently 10-people in the pub with arms in slings and various other ailments.  If this continues on it’s going to be chaos in February when all the half-termers arrive.
I went telemarking the other day and I’m hooked.  It’s actually not as difficult as I thought it would be and it only took a few hours to work it all out.  It’s an addictive feeling and quite a difficult one to describe but it does feel so much more natural than regular skiing.  There is a certain something about the turn shapes and rhythm of it that really appeals to me, so much so that I’m going for it again on Thursday. 
Of course it will eventually mean a whole load of shiny new equipment and a new pair of skis so I think I’ll be hitting the end of season sales hard.
online here and here