January Gap Course – 4th week
After a week of failry intensive training both physically and mentally for the BASI Level one exams, everyone was looking forward to getting back to training with our regular coaches. Little did we know this was going to be one our most rigorous weeks of training to date. BASI level 2 involves being assessed on the same type of turns but on a steeper gradient. It also involves an assessment on bumps (moguls), steep terrain and variables (powder snow). These are quite exciting parts of skiing and despite not being particularly proficient in these areas, I was very excited to learn how to perform them properly.
Bumps training on Tortin
An obvious training ground for bumps in Verbier is Tortin and that’s exactly where we headed early on in the week. This was the first time down Tortin for a few of our group and it’s safe to say it’s one of the more intimidating in the four valleys. Before you even approach the start of Tortin, a big, fluorescent sign reads, ‘good skiers only’. This immediately diminishes any confidence you might have acquired on the chairlift up. Once that hurdle is past you, the start of Tortin reveals a steep drop and a long run of moguls almost as far as you can see. There are two options at this point. The first, drop off the edge straight in front of you. The second, traverse across a narrow, bumpy and at the moment, quite rocky, path to reach a slightly less steep section. Neither option is better than the other so best to just pick one and get on with it.
First ski at Mont Fort
Our other adventure this week took us to the top of Mont Fort. The highest point in the four valleys I believe. At 3300m this was also going to test the plucky nature of the group. Again that same demoralising sign appears along with plenty of hazard tape cordoning off areas you shouldn’t look down if you’re in any way scared of heights. While Mont Fort is certainly intimidating, the view from the top is breathtakingly beautiful. On the day we visited, the sun shone bright and strong revealing snow capped peaks for miles on end. It should be noted that the weather this week has been incredible. After a lengthy period of not being able to see the resort, it’s been a welcome change to see the surrounding valleys in all their beauty.
Bowling with the Gap students
We were supposed to have a trip to the local bowling lanes on our first week here but due to the heavy snow it was postponed to this week. Harry, the GAP coordinator, decided this would be a good opportunity to socialise with our coaches and bond further with our fellow ‘gappies’. I think also, it provided a perfect opportunity for Harry to show how good a bowler he was. Unfortunately for Harry, this wasn’t his night. What might have rubbed salt in the wounds slightly more was the fact that James, who had never picked up a bowling ball in his life, got the highest scores in both games. Harry, if you’re reading this, sorry. It was a great evening and a nice opportunity to get to know our coaches better.
Weekend rest in Verbier
The week has been a testing one. We’ve had a few injuries and combined with illness going around the group too, we all felt quite drained by the end. Come Friday, we were all in need of a good rest and decided to take Sunday off completely from skiing to fully recuperate. Our skiing has really been pushed this week and the results are showing because everyone’s skiing has improved exponentially.