Blog Archive

It’s Official

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Today the postman delivered a package from BASI headquarters which contained my certificate, instructor’s licence and badge.  It’s a big badge!

The licence should be carried at all times while teaching and the badge is worn to identify instructors. So of course, my badge can’t be worn in France!

But tomorrow we are off to Switzerland to do the “Tour du Porte du Soleil”, a complete circuit of the piste map and the 10 resorts covered by the lift pass. So as we cross the Swiss border, I’m going to wear my badge, and bombard my companions (William and Nev) with instruction, until we cross back in to France later in the day.  Hahaha.

It’s the last week of the season for us; we will be wending our way home next week, after the most amazing and enjoyable winter.

My thanks to all of you who took the time to read my blog, and send encouraging and entertaining comments.  I pledged to donate to Patrick’s fundraising cycle challenge for Marie Curie Cancer Care for every contribution to my blog, and as a result totted up £80.

Now over to Patrick for the next challenge – Malin Head to Mizen Head by bike – rather him than me!


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The Verdict

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The last few days have been a blur. Literally in the case of Thursday, when a thick fog descended over the valley, and we skied all day using our hearing as the primary method of steering and navigation.

Andy the examiner was delighted that we were given this new challenge, which he declared would be “very good for our development” .  It was easier than closing our eyes, I suppose, another little task that I recall from earlier in the season.

But at last it was Friday, and time for the final assessments. We set off in a group, skied some off-piste terrain and bumps on the way to the top of the Chamoissiere lift where the wind was blowing hard and the slopes were icy and steep. The challenge was to ski rhythmically downhill, while twirling our poles in front of us, and it looked quite cool!

Next the examiners set up shop at the base of a long run where they could observe us all performing short turns to a specific point then carving into long race turns.  We were all asked to loop round and do the same thing over and over again for about two hours. The examiners were looking for consistency and conformance to the specific criteria required for Level 2.  Occasionally they would call one person over and give some instruction of something that they would like to see.  In my case it was to crank over even further on the long turns.

On my final run of the morning, Andy’s arms were outstretched as he cheered me in to meet him, where he gave me a huge hug and told me I’d passed.

I skied at a million km/h high on adrenalin and endorphins, back to the Pleney restaurant where all the BASS instructors had come in for lunch and were there to congratulate us with big smiles.  They have all been through this years ago, and then gone on to make a career as instructors with much greater challenges than I could ever contemplate.

We spent the afternoon celebrating in Bar Robinson, and fader that I am, I ducked out in time to get home for a long soak and then a nice meal with Robert and Marie Christine and their friend James Herdman.  Apparently, those of the class made of sterner stuff, and decades younger!, partied all night. I was like a rabbit in the headlights, dazed and amazed.

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Marigold Gloves

By admin | Filed in Blog

Somehow, here I am with three days to go before the final verdict on all the hard work, frustration, elation, learning, mistakes, and everything else that has formed part of my season in the snow.

At the weekend, I skied with Emma and Vanessa, two girls also taking the BASI 2 Exams, and we coached each other on our various shortcomings that had been highlighted to us at the Friday checkpoint.  I was quite pleased with my review, as I was told my teaching was up to scratch, and most of my skiing was at the required level, or close enough to get there during the following week with one or two improvements.  For those that are interested, my bumps skiing was very controlled, we had still to be tested in deep powder, my long radius (fast carved) turns needed more lateral separation  – that is, I needed to throw myself over sideways more aggressively, and my short turns needed “more work”…so I know where the focus needs to be.

Monday morning had a forecast for a wet miserable day, and the whole team dressed accordingly.  Marigolds were even produced as the perfect alternative to wet damp gloves. But once we got up the mountain, there had been a good fall of snow, and it was a fantastic day to develop our off piste skills in the deep stuff.  We headed over to Mont Chery, which is never busy and had lots of virgin powder, where we could create the first tracks in the snow.  It was a fantastic day, but totally exhausting.  Those languorous curves take a lot of physical effort! And at the end of it, the assessment was that I had performed at the required level.  Another tick in the box.

Today, we were asked to run a one hour private lesson for one of our group, and help them to improve one aspect of their skiing. The success criteria was – would they be happy to pay for the lesson they received.  I have always been quite nervous of the teaching aspects, as it is very difficult to see something that could be improved and come up with the right reason for the problem, and devise the solution. Most of the time, I have just been in awe of the instructors’ ability to do just that.

So it was with both surprise and glee that I found that I was able to help Helen to visibly improve her plough parallel turns while she in turn helped me to improve my parallel turns.  We were both quite pleased with ourselves.

In the afternoon, we were videoed showing both long and short turns and Andy told me that I’d made good progress.  My long turns are now ‘at the level’ and I’m working on taking them above the required level, and some of my short turns are now at the level but at times, are still a bit below what is required.  And of course the sequence that was recorded for all to see and analyse was not my best, and clearly showed what work is needed over the next three days ….

Tomorrow is the written exam, after another day working entirely on our performance skiing.  I’m hoping I can nail the last major hurdle, those elusive short swinging groovy turns that look so great when done well.

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Mid week checkpoint

By admin | Filed in Blog

As expected, the BASI Level 2 course / assessment / exam is a step up from Level 1 and quite a stressful challenge. There are 10 of us on the course, ranging from an RAF jet pilot, Ellis, who trains others, and also teaches Forces skiing, to a fearless 16 year old local “park animal”, Galico, and myself and Helen, of similar age, ability and madness!

Day 1: Andy took us on tour to see what our skiing level was like in various terrain, and found much that could be improved. Perhaps more than can be fixed in ten days! We all received personal feedback on what we needed to focus on. Andy’s words were – if you want to pass, guys, none of this is optional….

Day 2: In the morning we concentrated on the minutiae of demonstrating basics to beginners. This has to be exceptionally precise, as some people learn by watching and copying, and we don’t want them copying bad habits! Andy is VERY fussy. Only one person was declared to be “at the level required” (Sean) but we have more time to practise.
In the afternoon, we practised on big snowy lumps called moguls, a very different skiing skill where most of us struggled, but improved as the day progressed. I was quite pleased in the end. I didn’t fall over, was able to navigate my way downhill and maintain reasonable rhythm, most of the time. If only some of my other skiing was progressing as well! I am fairly sure I am one of the weakest participants, and there are definitely areas where I am at the “Fail” level at this point. Hey, it’s only Tuesday.

Day 3: Today we each had to deliver a lesson to our peer group, while Andy watched like a hawk. He misses nothing. My lesson was on the stage called plough turns, when beginners start to steer their skis in different directions. It didn’t go too badly and I passed this assessment with the feedback that I should talk less and demonstrate more.
In the afternoon we were going to focus on long fast carved turns, a bit like ski racers, but the slopes were busy, so we changed theme to much slower ‘plough parallel’ turns, where my attempts were declared the benchmark!!! If only I can remember tomorrow what I did right today ….

Tomorrow we are heading to a quiet slope where we can work on perfecting those long fast turns where we are cranked over at a ridiculous angle trying to go faster, and keep those skis on their edges. So now it’s after 9pm and time for bed. I need strong legs tomorrow.
The photo is of our training group on our last session with Ricey – Tom, Ricey, Me, Chip and Sean – all back on our own skis.

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Last day of training

By admin | Filed in Blog

That’s the end of the training and all the preparation before the start of the two week BASI Level 2 Assessment. Here we are outside the BASS office after a celebration beer (or was it to calm our nerves …)
Some of the group will be completing their final (Level 4) International Ski Teaching Diploma exams, an exceptionally high level of qualification that will allow them to teach anywhere in the world, finally including France – a long five year plus slog to get to this stage.

Ricey decided to have some fun with us on Friday, so we all swapped skis, which felt very strange. As mine are dainty little women’s skis, Ricey’s feet were the only ones that fitted the binding range, so he took mine, and declared that he was going to have the most bizarre experience of all, skiing like a ballerina – which of course he is able to do most elegantly. I had tall Tom’s stiff long ones, and was just grateful to be able to turn them at all.

We also skied with our ski tips tied together, using little plastic grips that are given to tiny tots to keep their skis in the snow plough position, and skied in time to music, provided by Sean’s iPod and some portable speakers (music by The Killers).

Homework for the weekend is lots of R&R, no skiing, finding music we can have in our heads to accompany various types of skiing – from beginner snow ploughs, through parallels, short and long radius turns, bumps, powder and steep drops…I can think of some already 🙂

At the end of the day Ricey declared us “done” and ready to be handed over to Andy on Monday……..

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Time ticking away

By admin | Filed in Blog

Here we are unbelievably in the last week of training before our two week assessment and exams.

All the ski school shadowing has been completed and registered with BASI in the UK. The first aid course, child protection course and criminal record check are all logged, not to mention the Level 1 Pass.

Ricey is training us for the last intensive week before he hands us over to the BASI Examiner, who is Andy Jerram again, our Level 1 examiner, so we know we’ll be put under pressure, but will have as enjoyable a time as is possible … under the circumstances!

We’d all been practising hard together in between ski school work, and I certainly thought it was all coming together quite nicely.

Nice Ricey offered to give us an extra training session on Sunday for a couple of hours, and ended up spending a long afternoon addressing some fundamental flaws for each of us which we hadn’t managed to eliminate from our skiing, so it was a bit of a reality check.

Today he spent the whole day with us, and my notebook is filled with tips and techniques which, when I used them correctly, transformed the quality of my skiing. He is such a good teacher.

Now… all I have to do is consistently apply these gold nuggets to every move I make, and I’ll be fine !!

So it’s going to be a loooong week of practise, practice, practise.

Meanwhile, Ricey asked us all to have our skis correctly serviced and waxed overnight, so they are in tip top condition for tomorrow, and to keep them that way. I think he was shocked at the neglect we’d all shown to our most basic of tools. It’s not all about the pretty colours on top 🙂

I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.

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Big Air!

By admin | Filed in Blog

This week one of my classes is a group of young teenagers who are very fast learners, and keen to have some adventure, so today, instructor Jon took us all to the snow park at Nyon, where we spent an exciting hour learning how to ‘get some air’ over the ramps and land in one piece. I confessed I’d never really sought out the thrills of the park before, so I became one of the class 🙂

Soon I was flying over the ramp into the air higher than expected and landing further than expected, and not disgracing myself in front of the others by falling over, or bottling out!

It may not have looked like this picture, but believe me it felt it!

On the way home we found a little house that had snow all the way up the walls to the roof, and so we all skied on the roof of the house. What a fun lesson.

If you want to see some real talent in the snow park, check out this video of UK’s top freestyle skier, James ‘Woodsy’ Woods.


Maybe that’s Friday’s lesson ……..

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By admin | Filed in Blog

The time is now flying by very quickly. Last week ski school was completed without further mishap or adventure, and the kids all enjoyed their week. The highlight was returning to the nursery slope and finding it so easy that they all decided they would ski it backwards. It’s amazing how much progress kids can make in a short time period.

I had a bit of a boot disaster on Friday afternoon when one of my boots unhinged having lost its pivot fitting. Sadly the verdict on this was that it was time to relegate the boots to the poubelle and get a new pair. Still, I had them for eight years, and they have served their time.

So Saturday was spent moving to my new home for the next two weeks, a nice little ‘pension’ hotel on the far side of the valley called L’Our Blanc, the white bear. Our own apartment has been rented for the next month, so I am homeless.

On Sunday, I got a chance to get fitted with a new pair of boots, and take them out for their first few days of ‘bedding in’.

Everyone who skis knows that ski boots are the bane of all our lives. It can be very hard to get a pair that fit well and are comfortable, and usually they need time (and discomfort) plus some adjustments at pressure points until they feel like that old pair of slippers.
So I have embarked on that route, and as I write have some very odd aches and pains that weren’t there when I was skiing today, but will need attention over the next few days.

The boot fitting shop will be able to mark the pressure points on the plastic of the boot then heat the boots up and expand them at those points making more room for my feet inside. That’s the theory.

I just need time to call back with them, in with all the shadowing and training that I have in my schedule this week. But the sun is shining and its absolutely lovely here this week. It is even warm. But just look at the amount of snow on top of the hut behind our ski class!

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Brothers in Arms

By admin | Filed in Blog

After a pleasant weekend skiing with Marie Christine, it was back to ‘work’ and half term ski school. Morzine is so busy this week, with queues everywhere and lots of people on the slopes to avoid!

I am assisting a class of 7-9 year olds, with one teenage beginner who is very nervous, and I’m not sure if she is really enjoying herself at all. There are also two brothers who have told me they hate each other, because all brothers hate each other, two sisters from Dublin, who seem to like each other fine, but mainly just ignore each other, and one tiny smiley girl who just skis along quietly doing very well.

My job is to get the two brothers on and off the chairlifts without incident, and so far I have about a 50% success rate at that. Neither of them listen to instructions, so getting them to line up in a specific lane with me in the middle was the first hurdle. Next they have to ski forwards, staying in the same lane, while the chairlift comes behind to collect them, but one skied in front of me, so I ended up with him on my knee; a rather scary moment followed while I moved him carefully to one side without him falling out of the chairlift!

The next event was at the top, when they had to keep their skis up so they don’t get stuck under the chair and topple forwards, which one failed to do, while the other skied off randomly in front of me again, and I just avoided a multiple pile up.

So I gave them a lecture about paying attention.

Next time around, I reminded them at the bottom, lining up in the queue, that they were to pay attention to my instruc…….and one was off already on on a chair by himself. That’s not supposed to happen, and I followed him up calling instructions to him and to the lift operators to make sure he was ok getting off by himself.

I’m a nervous wreck.

Thankfully I was able to spend the afternoons practising simple things quietly on my own, and then relaxing with Marie Christine in the evening, over a wee glass of vin rouge, for medicinal calming purposes.

Today I met Eleanor, a friend of Gill’s, and her fiancé Mark, who used to work in the same company as me. We had a nice crepe lunch for Shrove Tuesday, and then skied some more before making my way home.

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Measuring Up

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The day of our mock assessment.
Jaz Lamb, BASS Director and also Technical Director for the British Association of Snowsports Instructors, BASI, gathered us all together, and set the scene.

This is a very useful checkpoint day that gives us and the instructor team a good idea of where we are in relation to where we need to be in three weeks time. People do go home feeling depressed and disappointed after today, said Jaz, but take the feedback and work on it.

The format was that each of us, ten in all, would have two runs past the instructor team, demonstrating plough turns, plough parallel, parallel, short radius and long radius turns, then if there was time (there wasn’t) we would move over to the off piste and bumps.

And indeed the feedback was robust, but accurate, and actually, having been told to expect the worst, it wasn’t all that bad. Some, though far from all, of what I showed was at or near Level 2 standard, and what I really need to work on is consistency and being more aware of exactly where my body is in relation to my skis. Come to think of it, that’s quite a long way off perfect!

But all in all, it has been a good week, and I’m looking forwards, and with hard work and application to both practise and theory, I plan to be as well prepared as I can by the time the two week BASI Level 2 exam course comes round in March.

Meanwhile, there is still some ski school shadowing to be completed over half term, and this coming week I am assisting Scottish old-timer Gordie with a group of beginner children. That should be a bundle of laughs; last time I assisted Gordie he complained the children were shorter than his ski pole and he didn’t teach children that short.

I hope I measure up!



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By admin | Filed in Blog


Afternoon technical session with Kevin the instructor. It’s been snowing all night and day and the powder is thigh high.  We are standing at the top of the steep black from yesterday, and this time, Kevin thinks we should tackle the deep stuff off the piste to one side.

I stood rooted with fear and told Kevin I didn’t think I had the technical skill to take that leap.  Oh, says Kevin, gather round class, this is a problem you will all face with your clients – psychological fear!

So he took me back onto the piste (now for me ‘only’ a steep black) and took me down the first section one turn at a time and explained carefully what I should be concentrating on at each turn – finishing the turn, keeping my weight forwards, and pulling my skis back under me if they got ahead.

Me skiing powder in Whistler. Action shot or not, I now have the skill to tell that I almost certainly fell over during the next turn LOL!

By halfway down the run, I was happy to join the others and tackle the rest of the descent after a fashion.

By halfway down the next run, I was skiing happily with a smile on my face, turning through deep powder and loving it!

By the end of the afternoon, I was dancing in the après ski bar, grinning from ear to ear, and high on endorphins.

What a fantastic day, what a fantastic sport, and what a fantastic way to spend the winter!!!



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Breaking up isn’t so hard to do

By admin | Filed in Blog


Sean was recovering from a thump on the ribs from a fall last week, and Chip had an appointment with French Immigration, so Tom and I spent the morning practising for the forthcoming mock assessment.  Since two of  the other group had also gone awol, the assessment was postponed to Thursday. Halfway through the morning, on a steep black bumpy slope, my skill was found wanting, and I fell on that darn knee again. After limping (if that’s possible on skis) to the bottom of the slope, Tom and I set off to go back up, and I banged my thumb on the moving chair, with quite a crunch. On my next fall (these are indeed a frequent occurrence) I was no longer able to get myself up, as I had no completely functioning limb by that time.  I was starting to fall apart.

It did cross my mind that perhaps this time  I have bitten off more than is sensible for a mid-life baby boomer to chew!

Thankfully, Sandra my physiotherapist friend is here this week, and armed with strapping and other cures for orthopaedic ailments, of which there are many.  My preferred performance enhancing drug is currently ibuprofen.

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Panic sets in!

By admin | Filed in Blog

It’s been a tough week, in many ways. I seem to have forgotten how to ski, and certainly am having difficulty recalling all the important details of body position, steering, control of speed and direction, and generally all that I’m supposed to know at this stage.

Or more accurately, I can remember most of the theory, but can I get me and my skis to incorporate it all into what I’m actually doing? And I haven’t even started to think about the teaching elements.

My skiing has been variously described this week as too slow, not enough athleticism, too conservative, hanging back, leaning back (worse!), and summarised as ‘driving a shopping trolley’. Kevin recorded my attempt at carved turns the other day and said it was so bad he didn’t want to show it to me. Though he did …..

I’ve been coming home fairly dejected and frustrated, and thankfully my good friends are here to cheer me up.

To add to the misery, it poured with rain all day yesterday, and I came home after a day out in it, dripping and with a streaming cold.

But it’s not just me, and other members of the course are dropping like flies with injuries and ailments too, and getting their fair share of feedback.

I think we have entered the boot camp phase of this course, and the stakes have been raised.

Next week, we are taking what is essentially our mock exams and will be advised on how far off the required standard we are, with three further weeks until the real thing.

No pressure then. :-O

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…or a bad workman blames his tools ….

On Monday, we all woke up to an overnight fall of snow, and what is gleefully referred to as a powder day.  Of course to really enjoy this requires a combination of skill and suitable equipment.  I have been skiing on my lovely K2 piste skis, easy to turn, but too narrow to float well on the powder.  However, my previous Rossignol All Mountain skis are wider in the middle and should float better, so I decided this was a good day to swap my skis.

It was my turn to lead our group, so after a session on techniques for beginners learning to walk on skis, we set off to tackle the deep stuff; we all needed the practice…..

I found it all incredibly difficult, and could not turn my skis at all.  I had forgotten the second part of the ski equation, wider skis may float better, but don’t turn as easily, particularly when the rider has little or no skill to bring to the situation, or has forgotten all she has been told.

I struggled with it all morning, and took a few nasty tumbles, and then finally seemed to find a bit of rhythm, only to crash out with a very painful knee twist when I made another mistake.  I groaned for a while, and it crossed my mind that this could be the finale for my season.

However when I dug myself and my skis out of the deep stuff, it wasn’t so bad, and I found I could still ski, though I decided that was enough powder for the day.

At lunch, I quizzed Kevin on what he had in store for us for the afternoon, and told him my knee had taken a bit of a bashing. He assured me that we would not be tackling any powder, and that I could always duck out of anything I didn’t fancy. So it seemed reasonable to carry on. He also recommended that I stick with one pair of skis for now, the ones I will use for my exam, and leave the reserve pair at home.

The slopes were all lumpy and difficult enough without venturing off piste, so when the guys all piled over the steep drop to the side of the piste, I did not follow, but stuck to the piste, where I hacked my way down like a beginner, totally frustrated with myself. I was definitely having a bad hair day.

Finally, I think even Kevin was frustrated, as he took me aside on a very long slow chairlift and proceeded to give me a real dressing down, told me to up my game, use the technique I had been taught, go for it and stop holding back.  He said he wasn’t seeing the performance he thought I was capable of, and that I needed to try harder, and not to ski in my comfort zone.  This was nothing to do with me not following the guys over the edge, just that even when I took the easier route, I made a hash of that! It was tough getting such direct feedback, none of it positive, a reality check, I think.

So tomorrow, I’m going out there to up my game.

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Who needs two skis anyway?

By admin | Filed in Blog

Our current instructor Kevin has a sadistic gene, and a fixation with activities based on incomplete and missing faculties and/or equipment. This week, I’m sure he also broke a world record for the longest time spent on one blue run without needing a chairlift – two hours and twenty minutes. In fact we only escaped onto the chair because it was about to close for the night, stranding us in the wrong mountain valley.

That day we spent the whole afternoon learning to skate on skis.  The most humiliating aspect of this was that as the only member of the group with some previous experience of skating, gained over the last twenty years, I was also the only member of the group that kept falling over, giving Kevin an opportunity to demonstrate several methods of picking up fallen clients.  Come to think of it, I do spend a lot of time in the ice rink falling over too, hahaha.

We skated on the outside edge of our one ski with our eyes closed, thus losing a leg and our eyes for that exercise.

Today, we left our poles at home, and skied without this reassuring equipment. It did mean that the previous session on skating on skis came in useful for the flat bits of the mountain, as we had no other means of forward propulsion!

Again, Kev’s various exercises required us to close our eyes, ski fast carved turns with our arms behind our backs, ski on one leg and venture into the bumps and off piste without our poles to plant and turn round.  Of course it’s all psychological, and made for an interesting day. In fact, I’m sure we skied better a lot of the time without the distraction of those waving poles.

At the end of the day, we were given back our poles to ski home, but a thick mist had descended, and we were skiing blind again.

Tomorrow I’m finishing the week with my shadowing classes, six year olds who just keep falling on top of each other and require disentangling before lifting them back up, and a group of chatty women who are planning a daughter’s wedding while they should be listening to the bemused instructor.  It’s all in a day’s work!

Scottish and Irish friends arrive this weekend and next, I’m looking forward to seeing you all.

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Catching up

By admin | Filed in Blog

It really was a lovely week here in Morzine.  The snow under foot was in great condition, there was sunshine and snowfall, and a lot to keep me occupied. I had a sunny lunch stop one day at Mont Chery looking at this wonderful view over Les Gets and Morzine with Mont Blanc in the distance.

Our friends Norman and Geraldine from Cork had rented our apartment, so I decamped to my friend Marie Christine’s flat for the week, where I was very well looked after, and had some jolly company.

The week’s activity consisted of shadowing a group of nervous adults, as the instructor taught them how to tackle trickier slopes and steeper red runs with lumpy snow or ice. David and James had been stuck at this level for several years.  They run a small clothing company SeaSalt in Cornwall, and were amused when I told them I had several of their nautical stripey sweaters in my wardrobe. By the end of the week, James had skied a steep red that he couldn’t even step down on Day One, so the course was a great success.

Meanwhile, Kevin the instructor was also working on improving our skills, and I was keeping up well, until on Friday afternoon, he decided we would tackle some steep, lumpy, powdery crud off the side of the piste.  His suggestion that we combine this feat with an exercise in which we shuffled our skis at the same time was met with an inevitable outcome.

It was very frustrating and I spent most of the afternoon digging myself and my skis out of the snow.  I also learnt a new way to get the darn things back on when staggering around in this deep stuff (demonstrations free to anyone who asks) but it didn’t help with the primary task of staying upright. Kevin the instructor suggested that slow deep breathing might help with the rhythm and timing for the turns, but since I was hyperventilating my timing was not quite what was required!

While I was convalescing last week, it seems the others were going through this pain barrier, and so I decided I would corner Ricey over the weekend and confront my demons. In fact, I had a great afternoon today with Ricey, and although I would not describe my skiing as elegant, more of the time was spent with the skis under my feet instead of akimbo, so progress has been made.  Now I need to get out there into the deep, and practise.

Thie week I’m on my own in the apartment, so lots of time to spend on study and lesson planning, and balancing on the Sweetspot trainer.  Every little helps.


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Back in Business!

By admin | Filed in Blog

Armed (?) with a knee brace on the right knee, support stocking on the left knee, elbow support for the right arm, helmet, skis and poles,  I ventured out on the slopes at the weekend, and tentatively tackled a few turns.  The conditions were fantastic, lovely soft powdery snow, and sunshine.  To good to miss.

It all seemed to go well, and by Sunday afternoon, I was feeling that I could tackle the course again on Monday morning.

It was great to be back out with the boys!

In the morning, I shadowed a lesson with some adults working on improving their balance and posture, run by our trainer for our afternoon session, Kevin.

In the afternoon, when our BASI Level 2 group got together, I was rather smug, as Kevin got us to tackle the same exercises on steeper slopes, and as I had been practising with his lesson group all morning, I was at least as good as the others despite missing the last week. So that was quite a confidence booster, even though I know they were covering different topics last week, and I’ll have to catch up on those over the next few weeks.

I was certainly tired at the end of a long day skiing; a good workout for the old pins.

Tonight I planned our structured practise session for tomorrow afternoon, when we are working on our own.  I had to work out a two hour schedule, with exercises for the group, choosing which runs and lifts to use, and what to practise on each piste. The extra challenge is to get us back to the starting point two hours later, and most importantly, before the lifts close for the night.

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Instead of skiing

By admin | Filed in Blog

It’s Wednesday, and another sunny and beautiful day for skiing.  Sadly, the only skiing I am doing is in the apartment.

So I’ve turned the living room into my personal ski lab.

I’ve been lent a Sweetspot Trainer to practise balancing and posture in my ski boots, and I’ve set up a mirror, so I can analyse my position  – it’s a good activity, and a bit of a workout for the old pins too.

I’ve got the huge BASI manual to read, some coaching DVDs to watch, and some online video footage to compare against the standard, and try to pick out the errors.  It’s much easier to pick out errors than to eliminate them from your own ski performance, that’s for sure.

And some physio exercises to fit in around the rest of the regime. 

Still, I’d much rather be skiing ……… looks like that will have to wait for a few more days at least.

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Scene: Late Thursday afternoon on the nursery slopes, technical session with our instructor Ricey. We are standing still discussing the correct stance for a beginner’s  plough parallel turn.

Me, me, me, smartypants Karen knows  the answer – and shows a little slice of pizza with her skis – ‘like this’,  then …

also demonstrates a BIG slice of pizza  – ‘not like this’, and starts to slide backwards, her share of the pizza getting bigger and bigger, and legs getting wider and wider, until finally she can extend no further and falls over, twisting her knee.

After hobbling and wobbling back to the cable car to be picked up at the bottom by William, feeling very sorry for myself, I came home thoroughly dejected, and seriously worried that this could be the end of the season for me. Or even my skiing career

But the good news is that once again I am very lucky, and there appears not to be any serious damage. So I have my knee on packed ice, and am to ski again only when the swelling has gone, I can run up and down the stairs, jump from side to side and have no odd twinges.  Later in the week, suggested my new friend Sarah, the resident physiotherapist for the BASS instructors, but she wants to see me first, to approve my rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, I’ll be watching videos and reading books and looking out the window at the lovely sunny weather, and willing myself better.

Ricey the instructor says I should spend the time dreaming that I can ski beautifully, and then transfer it to the slopes!

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How not to be a ski Instructor

By admin | Filed in Blog

All I can say is that this ski instructor business is harder than it looks, and I’m just looking at the moment!

During each lesson, I have to ski properly, to the standard being taught, and no higher (or lower), observe the instructor and what and how he teaches, and observe the pupils and try to recognise the same points that the instructor is picking up. Then write up a summary of each lesson at the end of the day.

What I shouldn’t be doing is:

– demonstrating how to fall off a chairlift

– getting left four chairs behind the entire class, while they wait patiently

– dropping my pole and having a pupil retrieve it for me

– running over small children on the exit from the moving magic carpet on the nursery slopes

– skiing in the opposite formation to a client, down a steep slope and have him describe it as the helix of death

And finally today I learned that when a small child falls over and loses a ski, the instructor should never try to help the small child to put its ski back on, while holding the child and maintaining a snow plough position for balance.  This performance on the nursery slopes today resulted in me doing the splits, with the small child pinned underneath me with its skis akimbo, while I asked it politely to duck lower so I could slither over the top of its head to get my skis off.

On explaining this public debacle to my instructor Gordon, who sauntered over without skis to sort out this manoeuvre,  he said in his languid Scots accent, you’ll soon learn!

I expect I will….


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