So the winter season is pretty much finished here in Chatel, with the Pre-la-Joux area being forced to stay open until 24 April. Some modern day Jonny Halliday called Christophe Mae is playing in Chatel on Sunday night and they’ve sold a load of lift tickets to coincide with his arrival. Frankly, I hope M. Mae is not planning to ski much unless he likes slush and getting sunburnt. That said, if he is French then no doubt he’ll be up there in his jeans, snowblades and jester hat.

old dog. new tricks.

Morgins ski area where I work closed last weekend because there were more cows around than ski slopes and all in all it’s been a bit of a weird season but that said, one in which I worked far more than I expected to as a first year instructor. I’ve had an amazing time working with ski school this winter and all the other great instructors that they have there. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said out loud ‘I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this’.

I more or less hung up my ski boots for this winter season after doing a bit of ski teaching for Easter and completing the first proper ski module of my BASI Level 3 ISIA. The course we were doing was the Alpine Development Coach 1 which I got a lot out of. It was dealing with coaching in a completely different style, assuming that you were working with young racers or high level recreational skiers.

It boiled down to talking less and focusing more on specifics, as well as lot of standing about. The standing about is a pleasant part of coaching at a better level as you get the students to ‘lap’ more and give them tips to go off to work on. In reality for some, it meant a final chance to work up that goggle tan.

Our assessor was a guy called Peter Kuwall who runs the British Alpine Ski School in Chatel (BASS) and I really got a lot out of his teaching style which was very much along the lines of ‘do this and don’t be crap’ (mainly because it’s like mine). Hopefully, he will be running a few more of the ISIA modules next season which will be convenient for a lot of the ambitious instructors in the Portes du Soleil.

So what to do for summer? I’m trying to finalise my contract for coaching football in Switzerland at the moment and if this week’s Easter football camp in Vevey was anything to go by, then I’m going to have an amazing sun tan come next winter season. It was about 25-degrees all week and the 1-hour lunch break combined with the 45 minutes of ‘free time’ for the kids, means plenty of time to bask in the sun like a seal in shorts.

To keep my skiing eye in over the summer, I’m planning on heading up to the Saas-Fee glacier for weekends once a month and progressing from the good place that I left the ISIA module in. I’ve also picked up some amazing Atomic slalom skis in the end of season sales and I feel like I’m a much better skier than I started the season. I don’t want to lose this level, hence the proposed Saas weekends.

My first winter in the Alps has been amazing and I’m glad that I did it. I’ve learnt a lot about what it means to live out here and how to do it and I’m about to embark on a summer of discovery to see what it’s like here off season. Here’s a short list of things I learnt this season for prospective seasonaires next year;

1. If you are a ski teacher, value your time and put a price on it. Everyone wants a free lesson.

2. Snow tyres are essential. Just get them, they are amazing.

3. Everyone gets pretty partied out by March. Better to hibernate in February half term weeks to rest.

4. Bring loads of socks, 4-way English plug adaptors, hangover pills, shorts and flip flops (it gets hot in April which everyone forgets)

5. If you get to any decent level of skiing, you only need 2 pairs of skis. A proper slalom ski and a big fat off-piste ski for powder days. Anything else is a compromise.

It’s been great blogging for Mad Dog Ski this winter and hopefully, I’ll be back next winter for more of the same and perhaps a few summer skiing updates. Have a great summer.

online here


Things I found out when my mates came to visit part deux

Things I learnt when my friends from home came to visit for the second time this season;

hard at ‘work’

1. ’33 Export’ is STILL the worst beer I’ve ever tasted and the fact that you can get 30 for 7 Euros is no reason to buy them at all.

2. Playing paper, scissors, stone for who gets to sleep on the floor next to the dog (who is currently shedding his winter coat) is a quick, easy and very excitable game.

3. That none of us has the drinking ability to ‘take Cheeko down’. Of course, we have already learnt this lesson on many occasions but we are still surprised when the latest drink that he is supposedly afraid of doesn’t work.

4. (Note to self – Sambuca doesn’t take Cheeko down. Perhaps it’s Ameretto?)

5. Le Sloopy’s is still a terrible discotheque however the more drunk you are the better it gets.

6. Telling people that they cannot dance is not nice. Especially when they think they can.

7. That when my mates come here they might as well not pack ski gear because we never actually make it to the slopes.

and last but by no means least;

8. Le Sloopy’s takes credit cards. This is a very bad thing to learn indeed because it means I don’t have to go home when the money runs out. Damn you clever French disco owners.

x x x

published here


It’s a scorching 24 degrees here in Chatel today and you can almost see the snow melting off the pistes. The snow is not freezing overnight so it’s more or less un-skiable by about 11am in the morning.


Unbelievably, there are still tourists arriving, although when they get here and are seeing bikers and people riding mountain bikes through town, they probably wish they’d spent their money going to the beach for Easter.

End of season means end of season parties and a few of us spent a very enjoyable afternoon yesterday getting sunburnt and drinking on a friends balcony, high up in the valley overlooking Chatel. It looks like summer here now and we’re starting to see and smell Chatel’s farming community starting work for the summer.

Summer inevitably means finding an answer to that eternal seasonaires question, ‘what do you do in the summer’ and it looks like a few more people are staying this summer, with many of the guys finding work building stuff. The missus has found a summer job in a local restaurant and I’m working on something in Switzerland that if it comes off will make me very happy indeed.

I’ve got a training course next week which will see me ticking off another module on my way to BASI level 3 ISIA, I just home the mountain doesn’t close before then because if this weather carries on, there will be nothing to ski.


published here