Its 8.00 am in the morning and your room mate has just shaken you awake after a fairly large night in the Pub Mont Fort. As always the drinks we’re dangerously cheap owing to your Pub Mont Fort discount and despite avoiding the temptation of the Casbah dance floor your head is still hurting. But as you draw the curtains you notice there’s been a new snowfall, 30-40cms, and its bluebird with not a cloud in the sky, immediately last nights beers start to float away…..
After a wholesome breakfast of fruit, yogurts and fresh croissants from the bakery down the road, all laid out for you by your lovely cook, its a quick bus ride down the road to the Medran meeting area where the usual hubbub of ski instructors, lifities, parents dropping off kids and the always obliging wailing kids are all congregating. Here you meet up with your Altitude Futures Gap Course coach Ross at 9am and the 9 other ski instructor trainees in your group. Ross gives a summary for the morning which is going to be a technical session exploring core strength in the variables (i.e. a really good chance to get into the powder, thankfully our coach isn’t blind and has seen the new snow too!).Then its on up the Medran bubble towards the awesome Verbier 4 Vallées ski area and undoubtedly another great day on the mountain.
After a couple of lifts and only 20 mins later you are stood at the top of Attelas, one of Verbiers key peaks and from here you look out onto the amazing Alps including the impressive dome of Mont Blanc and you feel particularly happy with your choice of Gap year. One of your mates is taking the warm up for the day which is a quick yet fun exercise off skis which helps lossen up all the limbs especially important with the temperature at -10°. It includes a wrestling exercise in pairs and whilst fun your coach Ross also notes really helps warm up our core muscles.
From here its over to Ross to lead the group for the morning. Initially the session starts with a number of exercises on the piste exploring our core strength and its realtion to our skiing. This includes going into pairs and letting you decide for yourself how a strong core area can help steer our skis better especially when skiing in variable conditions such as powder. Each pair gets to share its ideas with the group and try out some different exercises you’ve come up with. Whilst loads of different ideas come up Ross keeps the discussion in control and making sure it keeps relating back to the BASI curriculum, which ultimately will be what is examined on at the end of the course.
Now its time to have real fun and explore the amazing off-piste terrain that Verbier has to offer. This includes fresh tracks down the itineraire Gentianes which everyone agrees is probably one of the highlights of the course so far. What is really noticeable is that the work on core-strength is really helping a lot of people in the fresh snow, but luckily not too much as there are a couple of spectacular crashes!
After an exhilarating but physically challenging morning everyone heads down the mountain at around 12 for some much needed refuelling. A few of the guys have made pack lunchs and enjoy them in the sun but you’ve been lazy and opt for the Offshore sandwich and coke deal just a stones throw away from the meeting point.
Then at 1pm it’s time to meet your BASI qualified coach Sandy for the afternoon session. Now its time for you and some of the other guys in the group to have a go at teaching yourselves as you run through the sessions you’ve prepared the night before. In order to help you develop as an instructor as well as a skier, the chance to teach your own peers is a great way to put into practice many of the ski instructor tools you have been taught throughout the course. Each session lasts for around 20 mins and after each one Sandy leads a valuable feedback session which helps to evaluate how everyone’s teaching performances are developing in relation to the exam in a few weeks time. Although not quite as exciting as the morning session it is still an interesting experience taking charge of a group of skiers on the mountain and provides much needed experience before doing it for real in the future! Most importantly the everyone’s main goal for the afternoon is to keep the sessions fun and the banter is flowing throughout so its far from a boring afternoon.
After a last free ski down the mountain at around 4pm its time for a video feedback session with Ross from some footage he took of everyone in the morning. For many this is one the most useful ways to help improve their own skiing as it is so important to see for yourself what is actually happening with your skiing. It helps everyone understand more clearly how the feedback the coaches are giving is going to help bring the ski performances up to the level required to become a ski instructor and in many cases go beyond it. Last but not least Futures coordinator Harry gives a short lecture on some of the many teaching styles an instructor can use up on the mountain and hopes you can all start to incorporate these into the next set of sessions that you will be taking in a couple of days time.
After another exhausting but rewarding day on the Altitude futures gap course everyone has just enough energy for the 5 min walk up the hill to the pub for a bit of après-ski and a couple of drinks to help unwind. Turns out there is still a half hour left of happy hour and those couple of drinks rapidly turn into a couple more and so the cycle starts again………..