This week has been awesome one. Since I spent a couple of seasons in the Alps ten years ago, my skiing has become less and less confident partly due to lack of fitness but also (I think) because as an adult learner I tend to duck away from anything that stretches me too far.
The decision to go back to ski school with Warren Smith was a big one – apart from the cost, there’s also the fact that you’re signing up for a week of being pushed outside your comfort zone and actually having to work at every aspect of my skiing instead of just cruising around. (Possibly the best quote of the week of the week from Rob our instructor was ‘rest is for in between runs, not in between turns’.)
So, what made my week so awesome? First of all, it’s been a real discovery for me to find out what a gem Verbier is. I know, I know – with my job I really should have skied there already but for some reason I just hadn’t. It’s not just the posh resort of royals and celebs that you read about, it’s also a lovely town with real people living there. Sure, you can pay 28 CHF for a G&T if you want, but you can also get a decent glass of wine on the mountain for just over 4 CHF – for a girl that’s used to London prices that ain’t bad at all (and the views are a lot better too). And yes, I did see some people with small dogs, but for the most part they were dreadlocked snowboarders (I promise you) or little old ladies out for a constitutional. And you all know already that the ski area is world class.
Secondly – and this was the best thing for me – a week at ski school was really enjoyable. Despite the frustration as we tried to learn new ski techniques and deal with the challenges of new terrain, I came out of the week a stronger and more confident skier. By Friday I was happily (well almost happily) tackling itinerary runs that previously would have sent me scuttling for a nice red piste. This week has helped me discover a new side to the mountain that I wish I’d found years ago.
In summary, this is what have I taken away from the week:
- Off-piste is good – and it helps your on piste skiing tremendously (though you’ll find the piste boring afterwards)
- Commitment is everything – embrace the mountain and it’ll love you back
- Learning in a group is brilliant both for the encouragement and support but also for the ability to see others conquer the mistakes you’re making yourself
- Be as fit as you can be but there’s no substitute for actually skiing a lot
- Just get out there and enjoy it!
Oh and finally – try and avoid rocks off-piste – hitting them really does make your skis come off.
The other good thing is I have all my progression captured on video with commentary – definitely something to watch before I head back to the slopes next season.