Long Time Snowboarders Turning to Skiing
At 14 years old, whilst visiting my sister on her working ski season in the late 80’s, I was lucky enough to discover the relatively new sport of snowboarding. Back then a ski holiday was generally reserved for the well off. The mountain gear was skinny and retro and the off-piste was a play ground for the only the best skiers. Skis were long and thin, which made them a challenge to turn on piste and difficulty to use in the fresh off piste powder snow. As a result the holy grail of fresh powder remained untracked for days after a snowfall.
Snowboarding changed all this. Clothing was baggy and leaned more towards a skateboard style. The snowboards larger surface area made riding off piste accessible to almost anyone who could link a turn and their exaggerated side cut helped easily carve tighter turns on piste. Snowboarders were building their own jumps and with their twin tips, were doing tricks never seen by skiers. Terrain parks with purpose built freestyle zones and half-pipes started popping up. Basically snowboarding was cool and all the kids wanted to do it.
However over the past 25 years, the ski industry has reacted and evolved to the sport we see today. These days, even the most basic ski is shorter, wider and has a tighter turning circle or carving angle. Skis turn quicker and easier. Off piste skiing is much more achievable for a half decent skier and the back country requires carrying less equipment than with a bulk snowboard on your back. Terrain parks are no longer the exclusive domains of the adolescent baggy clad snowboarder. Now free style skiers are commonplace in the parks and actually have more variety of tricks due to having two skis.
The long and short of it, is that it is definitely cool to ski again. Actually, if I think about it, it has been cool for a long while now. As a longtime snowboarder, I have been in denial and resisting the urge to give it a go, since I was reluctant to head back to the nursery slope.
However, like so many similarly placed mid 40’s longterm snowboarders I have spoken to recently, the draw of a new challenge has finally convinced me to switch to two planks. Now I’m not totally new to skiing. In fact I first hit the dry ski slopes back in the mid 80’s and have even strapped them on periodically over the years. But I have never got to a confident stage with two independent skis, where I’m not in constant fear of wrapping my knee around my shoulder.
Ski Clinic – Les Deux Alpes
So after a number of weeks nervously sliding around the mountain and generally loosing more and more confidence, I finally took the plunge and signed up for my first lesson in over 20 years. This was a very small group lesson hosted by Rod Fraser from Bass (British Alpine Ski School) that turned out to be with just three people, plus the instructor. During the first afternoon, the weather limited us to going back to absolute basics on the lower slopes. However after years of bad technique, reverting to total basics was exactly what I needed.
Rod from Scotland, literally started off with the most basic snow plough turn but, with the help of some handy on snow video analysis, we advanced quickly through the various stages of turning all the way up to a simple carve buy the end of the first afternoon. For our second day we had perfect fresh snow conditions and beautiful sunshine. Here Rod was able to take us all over the mountain and helped us put into action all the basics we had learned the first day. This was a truly eureka session for me, as something totally clicked. No more burning thighs, gone was the fear and tension that has plagued my skiing over the years. In short one professionally led intensive ski clinic had done more for me in two afternoons, than years of self-teaching.
So thanks to Rod at Bass – Les Deux Alpes, I now have a totally new focus for my life in the Alps. I suspect I will still drag the snowboard out for those perfect powder days, but thanks to a short amount of professional lessons, I look forward to becoming a much more accomplished skier.
For anyone interested in joining one of these amazing clinics, Rod has some availability for next week.
Dianne Frazer – “We have one or two spaces left next week on three levels of Clinics – Complete Beginner, ‘almost Beginner’ (i.e. those already booked have done quite a few snowdome sessions, but usually those skiers are a bit taken aback by the open environment, so we will still be starting at very much an introductory level) and Intermediate Clinic (you know we work hard to ensure a good ‘fit’ – those booked on already are shaky rough parallel blue run skiers this time). For a change our Intermediate Clinic is mornings this week – please get in touch if you’d like more details or timings etc on any of the above. Maximum six in these groups.”
To book another ski clinic with Rod, contact Dianne via the following email.
or follow their Facebook page on – BASS FaceBook Page
Chalet Freeride – Catered and self-catered ski and bike holidays, Les Deux Alpes