Season Review part 2

Hello from sunny Geneva.  I promised you more frequent blogging and the second part of the season so here we go.

Early January continued with teaching our lessons in Chatel.  There was sufficient snow to get the cold north facing Follieuse piste open in Morgins but for some reason, they didn’t get going until the middle of January which was a real pain in the arse for all those that work and teach skiing in the village.    When the big snow finally came in mid January, everyone was happy to finish skiing around dodging rocks and get into the swing of the ski season.

I had a really good day in mid January skiing around the Portes Du Soleil with my friend Scott Pleva of Inside Out Skiing.  I’ve done a few courses with Scott over the years and he’s a really great guy.  If you are looking to improve your skiing in the UK, you should definitely check out what he does at the indoor snowdomes.  We talked and skied a lot and plotted a few things in connection with bringing a group of his skiers out here to sample the delights of the Swiss side of the Portes Du Soleil.  You can check out the trip that we have planned here.

The ski season was a little disjointed for me this season because of the birth of my daughter Zoë.  For those of you that don’t know, she was born on 18 January and has been a delight every since she came into the world.  

I’ve noticed about this whole baby thing is that the pre-natal classes that you have to attend, which seem mainly to be spend waiting for them to end and listening to a whole bunch of stuff that doesn’t really seem that complicated (and indeed could just be condensed down to a one hour YouTube video that is obligatory to watch).  Compare this to the actual reality once the baby has arrived and you more or less are just left to get on with it without that much guidance at all.  I’ll never forget the time when I was left all alone with Zoe, just 10 mins after she was born, where I was on my own with her for an hour or so with no clue what to do.  It’s really very strange that you get all this chat before the event but very little after.

On another note, am I too premature in having bought her skis already?

Zoe’s pair already next to mine

After 10 days playing new Father, I was back on skis and into the guts of the International Schools Ski Race season.  These are great days, looking after groups of good young skiers racing for the glory of their schools against other schools in the region.  The fun bit from our perspective is not only skiing with these guys but also getting to visit other resorts and getting out of the Portes Du Soleil for a while.  This year, we visited Les Diablerets, Villars, Saanen and we would have gone to Gstaad too but it was cancelled due to bad weather.  The level of skiing was generally good and it was great to see so many kids that I knew through skiing or football at the races.

Once high season holidays were out of the way and the weeks of teaching in French and some basic Dutch (google translate is your friend here) were clear, the season evolved into teaching our own groups that we bring out to Morgins with Ski Morgins Schools, our company that runs Ski and Educational Trips to Morgins.  This year we had groups from The Middle East, Africa and the U.K.

Because these groups are often completely new to skiing, they are a big contrast to the groups on race days and it is sometimes exhausting having to think for 8 kids and yourself and everyone else on the slopes around you.  Sometimes it’s a question of limiting the amount of stupid decisions that kids make whilst remembering that they don’t see those decisions as stupid because they don’t realise or see the dangers that we see.

I had a couple of good groups over the course of these weeks and a couple of beginners groups.  The beginners are great fun and I’ve now become so comfortable with teaching groups like this that I’m now experimenting with different teaching styles, command, guided discovery, questioning approaches etc.  I have concluded that they reach the same level at the end of the week irrespective of what style I use..

The last group of the season from Africa were exceptional.  Because Morgins closed early this season (again, a lack of snow did for them) I got to ski my group around the Chatel Pre La Joux sector.  The group was comprised of the kids that had all skied before and frequently took skiing holidays with their parents.  I had the most amazing week with them, skiing on and off piste, moguls, jumps, ice and slush.  They took it all in their stride and skied in in the African style, which is fun, lots of laughing and supporting each other.

my african team elite

For the last 5 days of the season, I had my old business partner Steve and his excellent family out here to visit.  I was being Dave the tour operator this week as I had organised an apartment for them and showing them all the best restaurants and teaching their kids George and Rosie how to ski.   The kids took to skiing like ducks to water and I can see a ski holiday being a fixture of their family year for years to come.  The only question left is how long will it be before the parents need lessons to keep up with the kids.  About two years I reckon…

My next blog will be the Swiss Snowsports conversion equivalence course one.  



It feels like the end of season..

We’ve almost got Chatel back to ourselves now as the bulk of school holiday tourists are long gone.

An agent of exploitation

There are only a few French school groups left in town, inexplicably traipsing back through town from the gondola to their hotel, presumably to have lunch, before tramping all the way back to the gondola again to go skiing. I don’t understand why they do this as they must lose about 3 hours of skiing time just walking about and having lunch. They are French I suppose and being in a hurry is not a concept here.

The great tourist getaway means that takings for the local bars are starting to drop off as the French, Dutch and English who pay with actual real money are replaced by seasonaires who were hibernating for February, running up tabs that they can’t really afford on the £100 a week that a chalet girl earns.

It’s still hot here and there is some serious snow-melt going on. A lot of the businesses here are thinking that this is pretty much it for the winter season and I’m hearing of people having their contracts terminated early at the end of March instead of April.

The main topic in town now is the eternal question of ‘what are you going to do in the summer?’. I’m pleased to say that both the missus and myself have managed to line up summer work already, with the missus carrying on her glamorous work as a waitress and me taking the first steps towards a new summer career coaching football.

Many people who have seen me play before will be horrified at the thought that I’m teaching kids football, especially when most of my career was spent shirt pulling and kicking lumps out of centre forwards and then passing the ball to someone who could actually play.

There is still some ski teaching work going on in the slush though and this week we’ve got a really pleasant group of kids over from a school in Hornchurch on a ski holiday dressed up as a ‘French trip’. They are all typical cockey North London kids and considering my group hadn’t skied on snow before, they are doing really well.

I thought it was going to be a long week when all 8 of them fell at the same time like bowling pins the first time we did something difficult but as each hour passes, they are getting more confident. It’s the first all boy group I’ve had this season and they are being typical boys, crashing into each other, fighting and generally not listening. It’s nice to hear some London accents again though as everyone in Chatel seems to be a northern monkey for some reason.

As a last harrah this season before all the work dries and I teach young kids the finer arts of how to defend like an Italian number 5, I’ve booked myself onto an Alpine Development coach BASI course which will be the first of eight modules that I take on my way to my BASI level 3. I’m planning on ticking off all of the other straightforward ones before the level 3 technical skiing exam because I’m still crap in a lot of areas and need to improve before I do that one.

This blog might sound a little odd given that it’s only mid-March but there is a real end of season feeling about Chatel at the moment, perhaps because the season started so early in December. Perhaps this will change if we get more snow. The clouds have rolled in tonight so perhaps we might get lucky.

online here