Wednesday, 27 April 2011


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.

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