What do you do in summer? – an open letter to Misplaced Person

Dear Christa

Loved your last blog entry, goading the collective ski related bloggers for their inactivity.

Since I regard the 7 months of summer as little more than an extended wait until the 5 months of the year here when everything is covered in snow (except last year of course), I just couldn’t bring myself to write about the trivialities of my existence when it’s not ski season.

Also, being an capitalist at heart, I don’t usually write unless I’m getting paid for it, hence the ski related topics of my efforts this season. That said, I often trawl the other blogs that I find amusing/racy and am also disappointed by the lack of activity.

Since you asked though, here’s a rough list in no particular order of all the stuff that I’ve been up to since the snow went;

1. Coaching football

Now my main job in the months from late April until December. Somehow, I’ve become a football coach working for a company that does after school football and summer camps. Compared to ski teaching, it’s much more difficult due to the lack of ‘dead time’ that you don’t have. By dead time, I mean time on lifts, time chatting theory, time spent skiing from one place to another. With the footy coaching, it’s full on and the summer camps in particular have been pretty draining, especially in 35 degree heat. Frankly, the last thing I want to do after getting home from coaching is write and normally I detour to the pub – see point 4 below.

2. VTTing

I admit to twice having been mountain biking and I still don’t get the attraction. Perhaps it’s because like any sane and normal person, as soon as I got a car when I was 17, I sold my bike and never looked back. I actually used to race VTT’s when I was younger and I know I’ve still got all the old skillz BUT, it just looks like a money pit and potential injury minefield to me and I’d rather spend time on point 4 below. The first time I went, we went to Les Gets and did a load of downhill stuff which I admit, was rather fun. I then stupidly got all excited and signed up for something called the PassPortes du Soleil, which is essentially 70kms of uphill biking round France and Switzerland, cleverly marketed as riding round France only going downhill. Never again and if you are reading this and thinking of doing it, consider yourself warned.

this VTT for the PassPortes – knife to a gunfight mate

3. Playing Vets football

And I don’t mean playing football with M. Jacob the vet from Abondance, I mean a bunch of 35-years + French ski instructors, Butchers and Pompiers running about on a Friday night and generally thrashing the pants off other local sides like Morzine, Brevon and other obscure towns you’ve never heard of. The great bit about Friday night football is that it’s played on better facilities than I’ve ever played on in my life (for some reason Chatel has an unused UEFA B standard floodlit pitch) and the whole game is played in French. There are a couple of other English chaps that play (well, actually 2 are from Yorkshire) and we seem to be working our way into the team on merit, with myself falling back to my old favourite role of number 5, generally kicking strikers and cheating, with the others bossing midfield and creating numerous chances up front. For the team, it’s also quite social and everyone goes to eat together afterwards and sink a load of beers (see point 4 below).

4. Drinking (& BBQ’s)

Now we’re talking. Pretty much since the tourists left at the end of April, there has been a lot of drinking going on and in many ways, I’m a little bit over the remorseless drinking culture that has permeated the summer over the course of the various village fetes, happy cow competitions, birthdays and god knows whatever else we have celebrated this summer. The lack of work at this time of year leads to many of the usual suspects (of which I count myself) constantly in a state of, or topping up last nights drunkenness . This said, in many ways, there is little else to do so you’ve got to be a little disciplined and me working summer camps this year has meant that I’m out of town for 4 days of the week which leaves me the weekends to either go do something different or watch the test matches in the Avalanche and get pissed. A pleasing development though was the Chalet that some friends are renting just by the river which has a most excellent garden, river fridge and oil barrel BBQ, meaning a whole new (and cheaper) way to get wasted.

river fridge – surprisingly effective

5. Pitch and Put golf

A interesting development this one, given the presence in the village of a European Tour caddy that plays a little bit, as I did when I was young. Ever since we found out that the course record for the Golf de Loy (6 holes – par 18) is 17, old man Chris and myself have been hammering the golf looking for a new record. We are not helped by appallingly kept greens and a fiendish 5th hold which is only 30-yards long. It completely proves my point though that regular golf is at least 12 holes too long.

some big numbers on this card

6. Ibiza

The less said about this the better but I went to Ibiza with the Essex boys for 4 days and destroyed myself to the point that it took me 3 full weeks for my digestive system, sense of smell, cuts and bruises to recover fully. I’ve been on boys holidays before but this one was so far off the scale of what was normal and so hedonistic that it will be interesting to see exactly how much larger we can have it next year when it’s actually a stag do and not just practice. It was wonderful though to get back to the home of dance music and actually hear some proper stuff in its proper setting.

the only photo that made it back from IBZ

7. Cricket

They play cricket in Switzerland just so you know. There’s actually a league and everything, so much so that I had to get my cricket bag sent out here. Swiss cricket is heavily Asian influenced so there is limited room for a Chris Tavaré type player like me here. Most of the time, the Indian and Pakistani boys just tee off from ball 1 and I’m getting used to seeing some very big totals to chase. Luckily, I seem to be in the side for my wicket keeping, which for those that know me, will indicate very well the level of one of the best clubs in Switzerland….

8. Boxing

Slightly coupled with number 6 and the gradual realisation that I’m getting on a bit, last week I started at the local boxing club here in Chatel. Not quite sure what my aims are for this, other than getting slightly fitter and learning something new but if it means that I’m more confident getting my shirt off in Ibiza next year then it would have served its purpose. (we all know that ski instructing doesn’t keep you fit)

9. Summer skiing

The skiing you know about from other blog entries but this may drop off a little now that I’ve had to cancel my ISIA exams in November to accommodate football coaching work. The massive benefit of summer skiing being so close is that if you can be bothered to drive the 1h45m it takes to get there, you can have a great time and feel like you are in another world, if only for a day. I’m actually going there tonight. (see point 4 above)

So there you go Christa, that’s what I’ve been up to (unless you want to hear about how amazing my new Kindle is and my brother’s wedding). Told you it wasn’t very interesting but I consider myself chastened and I will attempt to blog more, if only to keep you from slitting your wrists about your various cat related troubles..

Yours in blogging

Dave xxx

Chatel, August 2011


More summer skiing…

Another week off of football summer camps, means that I’ve been up in Saas-Fee again this week for another 3-days of skiing and training.

wish you were here..

The conditions have been great this week and apparently my timing is excellent as it was raining all last week. However, temperatures have dropped and the sun has come out, making for bulletproof pistes in the morning which hold up well until lunchtime. In fact yesterday, the pistes were still hard and great for carving turns all the way until the close at 1pm.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve got to practice the stuff that I’m rubbish at which means I’ve got to spend time in the moguls which here in Saas, means zip and rut lines that you have to fight to stay in, rather than picking from different lines.

Last year on my level 2 exams, this was the thing I found the hardest and although I’m better at it now, I’m still struggling. Perhaps it’s the choice of skis, as I only brought with me my super stiff GS skis which although I am learning to love them, they aren’t exactly ideal for quick short turns in the bumps. That said, I’ve had a couple of real breakthroughs in terms of technique in the last 3-days and I feel really good about my skiing today.

Of course, with the glacier only open until 1pm, there is plenty of opportunity to do other things and in the times that I’ve been here, I’ve hiked up mountains, had my butt kicked at tennis and played beach volleyball and golf (real and mini).

The curious thing about Tennis at 1800m is that the ball flies further than if you were at sea level so you have to adjust your game accordingly. This said, the fact that the village is so high up also means that you’re getting fitter without knowing it too…

online here – http://maddogski.com/eatsleepski/saas-fee-summer-skiing-0

Back in Saas.

So I’m back and so is the ski season. The summer ski season that is. This summer, I’m going to be making regular trips up to Saas Fee to prepare myself for my BASI Level 3 exams in Zermatt in November.

Atomic SL’s – Surprisingly good in the pow :))

The technical level of skiing for this is a lot higher than the Level 2, so I need to be ready and a one week pre-course warm up in Zermatt just won’t cut it as far as preparation is concerned.

It’s been really cool being back in Saas Fee. This time last year, I spent 9-weeks one a gap course with the Warren Smith Ski Academy in Saas Fee which lead me to my current life of teaching skiing in the winter and teaching football in the summer. Being back in the toytown village of Saas with the electric cars and familiar faces from last summer has been great.

The journey up to the summer skiing on the glacier takes about 45-minutes, 2 cable cars and a funicular train before you emerge at 3800m gasping for breath. There are about 40kms of piste to rip and a great park with masses of kickers, rails and a pipe to keep the park rats happy. The Glacier opens at 7am (!) and finishes at 1pm when it gets super slushy so it means plenty of early starts.

I’m here working on the technical elements of skiing, things like refining short turns and making them more dynamic, as well as hammering long turns and bumps. One of my coaches from last year, Scouse, had a look at my skiing and kindly mentioned that it had improved massively after a winter of skiing which is reassuring and has given me extra confidence that I’m heading in the right direction.

A happy benefit of having been here before is that I’ve been able to stay at a friend’s place here in Saas. The friend in question is Maria Ramberger, Austria’s top ranked SnowboardCross racer who is also here training for the whole summer. It’s been great catching lifts and catching up with her and generally blasting around Saas glacier at high speed. She also cooks a decent pasta.

It’s been a refreshing few days here, almost like a mini holiday and it’s been great to be on skis again. That said, I’m a complete convert to summers in Chatel, which I never expected. I was expecting summer in the Alps to be one long wait for winter but in many ways, the scenery, the sunsets and barbeques are even better than the skiing and drinking of winter. With summer skiing less than 2-hours away it seems I’ve got the best of both worlds.

Online here at Mad Dog Ski.