January Gap Course – 5th week
It’s amazing to think we are exactly halfway through this ten week course. During this fairly short period we have been filled to the brim with information on how to ski better and how to teach skiing better. For many of us, this is the longest we have been skiing consistently week to week. I know for myself and a few others, skiing was a once or twice a year event for a week at a time. However skiing as intensely and as often as we are now, all of our skill levels have increased drastically.
On Wednesday morning some much needed snow started to fall. While it’s been a joy to have such glorious weather for the last couple of weeks, the piste has become quite icy and a few grassy patches have been exposed here and there.
Seasonaires nights in Verbier
Tuesday night at Pub Mont Fort is ‘seasonaires night’. It is an evening dedicated to the workers of Verbier and definitely one of the busier evenings on offer during the week. Training the morning after the night before is always tough. However, coupled with the poor visibility and a still very icy piste this was a challenging morning. However we all got through it and actually did some really good training on our short turns despite everything. Ross, our coach, reassuringly pointed out that compared to the first few weeks when we had similar conditions, all of our skiing has progressed since then.
Training with ISIA students
As well as being coached by our regular coaches, this week, we were introduced to the level 3 trainees. As part of their coaching experience they have to teach skiers at a higher level which is us apparently. This also counted as part of our shadowing an instructor experience which starts properly next week during the busy half term. So, this was a “win win” situation for both gappies and level 3 trainees. It was also a great opportunity to meet more of the Altitude team and get to know them better. For Monday and Tuesday afternoon we had Tim and Jake. We did a lot of work on our short turns and were introduced to several drills we’d never done before. The guys were great with us and took time to get to know those they were teaching as well as introducing some friendly competition to keep things interesting. We finished the day with a pint at Icecube, a bar up on the piste, enjoying the afternoon sunshine.
On Thursday and Friday afternoon we had Tim, who I’d had before, and Kate, both level 3 trainees. On these two days we focused on improving our long carving turns. Again, new drills and new ways of thinking about our skiing were introduced. I know for myself that their input during the week has really helped my skiing. It’s amazing how someone else’s delivery of the same idea can sometimes just click for you. I suppose that’s one of the main aspects of teaching this sport and any other sport for that matter, sharing different ideas and ways of teaching because everyone learns in a particular way. Picking up as many of these different teaching methods can only make you a better instructor.
Friday was probably one of the standout days of this five week experience so far and I think many of our group would agree. It started with a very early text from our coach, Roddy. He made it clear to us that there was an opportunity to go off piste. Having just dumped another 30cm the previous night, the reply was an obvious one. We kitted up with wider skis, transceivers, probes and shovels to be properly prepared. We got the early bus to Savoleyres, took the famously creaky bubble up and hiked for a small distance to a nearby peak. For the next three hours, the whole group got fresh tracks in a big wide expanse of untouched snow. It was hard work but definitely worth all the hiking, sweating and the occasional fall. Next week we are shadowing the Altitude coaches in real lessons. The following two weeks are some of the busiest in the Verbier calendar in terms of the volume of people piling through this town and will certainly be a test for all of us.