Day 1 - Travelling
After a long day of travelling on Saturday we arrived at the resort excited and eager to get things moving with ski and boot fitting. We sat down to a meal of leek and potato soup, followed by beef and mushroom casserole with vegetables and bread and butter pudding. Needless to say the pudding was a great success and with the addition of chocolate in the recipe we were presented with six empty plates.
A walk into town and some hot chocolate saw us returning to the hotel just before bed time. Unfortunately, the excitement of the day and the lack of moving around led to a restless night and some of the students had to be reminded that they were not at home at 1:30 a.m.
Day 2 – First time on snow
The lack of sleep last night obviously had an affect on some of the intrepid skiers as there were some very bleary faces this morning at breakfast. The application of ski wear and boots took its time and we arrived at the first lesson this morning just a little behind schedule.
Kamarlee, Jack and Freddie-Lee took to skiing like the proverbial duck to water while the others complained about sore feet and poorly fitting boots. Two hours later we saw the three skiers linking turns and coming down the nursery slopes like they had been doing it all morning. The other three went to have boots refitted and came down for the second lesson with renewed vigour.
A couple of little tantrums later and the students were all participating. Most progress was definitely made by Kamarlee but the most determination was shown by Thomas, who struggled in the morning but stuck at it and managed a couple of runs down without falling over or tying himself into a knot.
Looking forward to dinner and sledging later before a good nights sleep, hopefully!
Day 3 – The Great Divide
Day 4 – The Mountain
After the trials and tribulations of last night we were once again met with some bleary faces at breakfast.
Our instructor Max was demonstrating the coaching skills that allow him to work for Ecole Ski Francais, one of the largest and best ski schools in the world. He could spot an area of development and work with the students on their level. We now had 2 lessons, each an hour long, that catered for the different needs of each small group. Kamarlee, Jack and Freddie-Lee were taken onto the chair lift and had their first experience of the top of the mountain. They were awe struck saying that it was incredibly beautiful and amazing. Jack had a little wobble regarding the height but overcame this and descended cautiously. Freddie-Lee was looking for the next challenge and was trying 360’s and jumping off smaller bumps.
The others progressed massively today continuing to develop their skill levels and confidence. Martin finally lowered his right shoulder and could now turn in both directions and Thomas must have taken some brave pills because he was turning confidently and looking a lot less worried when facing down hill.
The evening had no organised activity and saw the students interacting with the other schools and hotel staff in positive ways. All students were tired and were all asleep by 10:45pm…bliss!
Day 5 – Onwards and Upwards
No bleary faces today… in actual fact most of the students have started to manage their time really well and are meeting the staff at the right place and the right time almost everytime…now there is no excuse at home!
The staffing for today was tricky as the students have different levels of skill, motivation and ability to cope with fear. At one point all staff were working with individual students spread out across the mountain. This allowed all the students to find their potential and make steady progress which meant that most students went up to the highest point they could.
Martin’s newly found love of speed did cause consternation for some staff but he was able to stop when requested. Thomas was still taking brave pills and did not need asking twice to try new, more challenging slopes. Kamarlee was challenged almost to his limit but gathered himself and demonstrated a resilience rarely seen. Jack expressed he was scared of going much higher, which is a big step for him to admit a limitation. Freddie-Lee took everything in his stride which is something that he could work on at the dinner table when it comes to trying new foods. John continued to work at his own pace practicing on small slopes close to the hotel.
Tonight is a night in town watching a torch light descent sharing hot chocolate and vin chaud with the locals and not so locals!
Day 6 – Red White and Blue
In skiing, all pistes are given a grade. The hardest pistes are black then red then blue and finally green. There are certain criteria that make each piste a grade. Steepness, number of corners and the width all have a bearing. Today each group pushed themselves and moved up a grade, this meant that Jack., Kamarlee and Freddie-Lee had a crack at a red piste while Tom and Martin did some more difficult blues. We were lucky enough to still have plenty of the white stuff! Martin and Tom didn’t want to stop and made many bottom lift journeys to practice all that Max had taught them.
Jack stayed back in the afternoon saying his legs were hurting after the red in the morning. However, he did help John improve his technique in basic turning. Kamarlee and Freddie-Lee once again pushed themselves in the afternoon and put in another good couple of hours. This included a small amount of ‘off piste’ through the trees with varying degrees of success!
The evening meal was finished off with ‘crepes’ in a local bar so the students got a real flavour of a French speciality.
Day 7 – The Journey
Unlike other days skiing, we combined our teaching hours so we could be out for longer and see some of the other resorts that make up Les Sybelles ski area. We also combined the groups so that we had five students with us and John under strict instructions to meet us at 12:45.
The cloudless sky added to the beauty of the mountains and although cold in the morning it promised to be a fantastic way to end the trip. We used lift and piste alternately covering 20km around the ski area on a variety of red and blue pistes. Everyone of the students got something out of the day with Tom and Martin experiencing a red for the first time while Jack, Kamarlee and Freddie-Lee travelled over unknown pistes and had to reign in their speed.
The four hour journey ended with the students receiving their individual awards from Max, these varied from ‘Flocon’, basic turns and control to ‘2nd etoile’ which means that students can link turns and a variety of slopes. Well done to everyone.
Students had a choice of activities later in the afternoon. Three students, Kamarlee, Martin and Freddie-Lee opting to ski for another hour and a half. Although tired legs and icy conditions led to some frustrations, each student, once again, pushed their limits and impressed the staff.
A very successful trip overall and one we hope to repeat in two years time!