Sunday, 19 December 2010

Nursery slopes of skiing (and teaching)

In my last blog I was worrying that my skiing might not be good enough to impress my new ski school director but since I’m now in my shiny new ski school jacket and teaching all this week, I guess I am – either that or no-one else was available…

view from the nursery slopes

Both the Pre-la-Joux area of Chatel and the Follieuse lift in Morgins have been open for the last two weekends, providing some epic skiing on the opening day of the season, with 2 foot of fresh snow waiting to be skied out in the tree lines. This was basically our ‘training’ on the first Saturday mainly because I think everyone just wanted to go skiing and blow out the cobwebs prior to getting down to the more serious business of technique and teaching styles on subsequent days.

At the moment, I’m teaching a group of Kenyan kids and their two teachers from an international school in Nairobi, who are here to learn to ski. The kids are picking it up a lot faster than I would have expected and it was wonderful to see the look on the faces of them all as they came to the top of the lift in bright sunshine this morning and saw the Portes du Soleil, Dents du Midi and Mont Blanc in the distance.

I kind of half expected it but the rulebook for teaching kids is more or less thrown out of the window compared to the theory that we learnt as instructors. The kids are ambitious and we soon had them going higher and higher up the button lift.

I’m being shadowed this week (!) by another instructor, Ross Jackson, who I qualified with this summer in Saas-Fee. It’s been really useful to have him around to bounce ideas off of and I really appreciate having him around to ease myself into teaching. We are probably going to give him a group of his own tomorrow to make the class sizes smaller and more efficient. The only bad thing about Ross is that he makes his instructor jacket look really cool whereas I think I just look fat in mine.

It’s freezing cold here at the moment, about -7 on my drive to work (this is a real culture shock for the Kenyans) and it’s been like this for a little while now. The snow cannons are working overtime to make fresh snow in time for official openings later this week.

There has been a noticeable influx of seasonaires arriving into Chatel. I’ve been quite lucky that because I arrived in early November, myself and the missus are almost considered as locals and I can now sit in the corner of the Avalanche in Chatel with them and grumble about how the bar is too busy and the free pool table has gone. There are plenty of young and hopeful chalet girls turning up, as well as Chalet owners rushing about last minute to get everything done before the start of the season.

Winter starts here.

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