Archive for February, 2013

Time ticking away

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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!

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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.

httphttp://ellemo.eu/memoirsyoutu.be/Oh_a4l4d1PE

Maybe that’s Friday’s lesson ……..

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Boots

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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

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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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Thursday.
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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Epiphany!

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Wednesday.

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

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Tuesday…

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!

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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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