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.  

-X-

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The End

So last time we spoke, I was back in the teaching groove after finishing my BASI Level 3 technical and teaching exams.  The season soon wrapped up, with ski teaching work dropping off in Morgins immediately after Easter.  Annoyingly, even now, I can see there is snow up the top and the mogul field is still there, looking lonely. 

above the clouds in Tux and a rare pic of me skiing (complete with spear throwing pole plant)


Easter was quite busy this year in Morgins, probably due to Easter actually being at a reasonable time of the year when there was still snow.  The first season I was here, Easter fell at the end of April and the resort was already shut by then!

So now all of the lifties in Morgins are happy again because they can finally get their cows out of the shed and get on with their main summer profession, farming.  May has been a little disappointing so far, in that it has rained more or less constantly.  I don’t know why I am surprised because it always rains for a month in May and then we get on with a long hot summer from June.

I started my summer job in the second week of April this year, meaning no break between the ski season and the summer football season.  After a month of it now, I’m fully back in the groove and playing football for myself 3 nights a week, in a vain attempt to get fit and fight my aging body.

I suppose I did have a little break between the ski season and the football season by having to go to the Hintertux Glacier in Austria for the BASI Level 3 Mountain safety course.  For various reasons, I wasn’t looking forward to this course much but mainly because of the tales I had heard from other people about having to walk up mountains, in order to ski back down them again. For me, this is something that I just have absolutely no interest in, my preference is to use the lift that are there for your convenience.  When I see people skinning up the mountain, I am normally thinking ‘weirdo’ in my head.

However, I guess the point of the BASI system is to challenge you to become a more rounded skier and so I tried to be positive and get stuck in.  The course itself was very different to your standard BASI course in that it was run by a mountain guide from Chamonix, Dave Cummins.  Dave didn’t appear to be hung up at all on our skiing level; he was more into the walking up stuff and mountain navigation.  That said, he did ask us for ski tips during the week and he was definitely skiing better at the end of the week than the start!

The course covered a lot and I enjoyed the bits I was expecting to enjoy, namely learning more about the snow pack and avalanches, navigation, working with transceivers and skiing off-piste.  Luckily for me, because the snow conditions over the week deteriorated due to the heat, we didn’t end up doing that much walking up but I got a feel for what it was all about and getting away from the crowds.  As part of my level 4, I have to go and do 6 days of touring anyway, so I’m going to have to learn to love it I guess.

Another bonus of the week was skiing again with my good buddy George Walton, pro skier and all round good guy.  I’d seen George piste skiing in my Level 3 tech exam but it’s clear that his passion is off-piste and considering we spent most of the week ripping about hunting fresh or skiable powder and spring snow, his skills were on show and a pleasure to watch. 
Georgy rock jibber

So at the end of 6 days, another course was passed and that only leaves me now with 1 course left until I get my full BASI Level 3 ISIA stamp.  The exam I’ve got left is the Common Theory which you have to go to Scotland to do.  Everyone that I have spoken to says that this course is a dull one as it is classroom based but I’m determined to be positive about it, not least because the theory side of skiing is something I am hugely interested in.

So summer starts now, I need to get fit and have a determined think about whether I go forward to the BASI Level 4 or not.  I wrote down a pros and cons list as to whether I should, which came out 13 for and 4 against (is it wrong that a lot of the 13 pros were to stick it to people who told me I was crap at skiing??) so I suppose I had better get on with planning which modules to start training for next season.  I’m sure one of those will be to start going to Giant Slalom race camps in the summer so no doubt I’ll have a few summer blogs to add too.

See you soon.