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Keep Calm And Carry On

Posted on
March 19, 2024

Hi everyone and welcome to another post from your favourite blogging Méribel ski instructor. As mentioned in my previous article, I've been trying to publish more on the Socials and on this page: here's the latest. The ski season continues to race along through March, with the usual spring conditions. Sometimes sunny, sometimes cloudy, often accompanied with warm temperatures. The snow conditions are holding up well thanks to the extensive snow making infrastructure that we have here in the 3 Valleys, paired up with regular recent storms that have passed through. Right, straight into it, please meet Ted & Anja.

Ted and Anja.

Ted contacted me at the beginning of February and asked about my availability. He is friends with Helen & Chris who I've known for a good fifteen years or so now, it's always nice to receive referrals. Ted explained that he and Anja hadn't skied for a number of years (way before covid), and that in his words 'I have had two new knee jobs'. He was of course feeling nervous, and wasn't sure how his skiing was going to go. He was realistic and knew that it was possibly going to be a challenge, but was keen to give it one last shot. We took it steady, spoke about the fundamental basics of ski technique, and skied on appropriate terrain for their level. How did it go?

Nice to find a quiet piste the final week of the French Holidays!?!

Judging by their smiles, very well indeed. He was pain free during the period we skied together. And was absolutely buzzing that not only could he ski; he enjoyed it, and can't wait to come back again next winter. Well done Ted & Anja, I'm really pleased it worked out for you. Even your chum Chris contacted me to say well done all round.

The last couple of weeks or so I've been contacted and asked to be a guide around the 3 Valleys. This is a lovely change, and one I enjoy very much. I had a couple of days with Jack and his family (no photos of them, apologies). They had come over from Boston Massachusetts in the USA and it was their first ever skiing trip in Europe, hence requesting a guide to show them around. They were staying in Courchevel 1850, the first day I drove round, due to poor weather. But the second day the forecast looked fabulous, so I opted to catch the first ski lift (Saulire Express) in order to ski down and meet them in Courchevel.

The early morning piste commute......

I mean, talk about having a wonderful commute to work that day. It does take an effort to get ready for skiing early in the morning, in order to grab the first ski lift, but what a reward and a privilege to be up the mountain in those conditions.

A few minutes later into the commute. Thanks Courchevel, loved heading into your office early that morning!?!

For Jack and his family, it was a real eye opener: the difference between skiing in the French Alps compared to the US, particularly on the East Coast. Before I started my first ski season here back in the late 1990s, I had skied several times over in the States, both in Colorado and California. These experiences definitely helped me prepare them for the different nuances. It was a very fun two days I had with them, and I've since heard back that they will return next winter and will get in touch for more guiding. Let's face it, the 3 Valleys ski area is huge, and certainly takes a while to be able to comfortably navigate around. I'll make a point of photographing them next time!

Gorgeous late afternoon light at the top of the Vizelle bubble.

After leaving Jack for apres-ski at the Cap Horn, I of course had to return back home to Méribel. This book-ended the day nicely, with lovely low afternoon sunshine and quiet pistes. Sometimes I have to remind myself how beautiful an office this is.

Late afternoon commute on skis from Courchevel back to the Méribel Valley.

Next up, please meet Liz. Her friend Laura had recommended me to her, after Laura realised Liz was coming back to Méribel. Similar to Ted  (mentioned previously), Liz has had quite a break from skiing, mainly due to raising a family. She came out to Méribel with her (more ski experienced) husband, and her two young children who were booked into ski school group lessons with the ESF.

Liz embracing confidence building on green pistes.

Before her kids had arrived, it sounded as though Liz's experience of ski holidays had been where the standard of those she skied with was at a much higher level than hers. This led to that peer pressure that many people talk about, and resulted in her not particularly enjoying her skiing, plus not really understanding what she was meant to do on skis. This was where I came in.

Liz embracing confidence on blue pistes.

First things first was to choose the appropriate terrain for Liz to feel comfortable. This meant that she would begin to trust me, and then start slowly building confidence. And just like Ted & Anja earlier, then look at and simplify the fundamental elements of ski technique, tactics and look at the psychological side of the sport. I'm pleased to report that Liz did really well, she soon started to relax, and blow me down even started to enjoy her skiing. Well done Liz, I'm dead chuffed it worked out for you.

Looking good Liz, on the Geai piste.

Oops, couldn't resist another late afternoon, empty piste photo taken last week.

Another late afternoon commute home from work. The one and only 'Alitport'. My goodness, I love this place.......

One day during the middle of last week, I received a message from one of the directors at the ESF ski school. I saw his name on my phone and wondered what the message was all about. He was asking if I was available to work all day on Saturday. I replied to say said yes I could be, if that helped. He explained that he had four British journalists who needed guiding around the mountain, but that they (including me) needed to be at a restaurant in Courchevel La Tania for 12.30, called Le Farçon!

This name rang a bell but I hadn't visited it. I had heard that it was a one star Michelin restaurant. Thanks boss (my director), for sending me this gig! As you know, I don't often talk about mountain restaurant visits. Although I'm lucky enough to eat at many of these places, I realise it's not a subject of interest to everyone, compared to the skiing. But on this one occasion I'm sure you can forgive me.

We all had a lovely ski in the morning, especially when the visibility cleared and we could see where we were going. I'm not going to lie, the food at Le Farçon was absolutely stunning. The journalists: Jenny, Bridget, Nick and Paul were all great company. They write for a mixture of publications including Metro, Sunday Post, Sunday Mail, The Travel Magazine and National Geographic Traveller. And thanks Bridget for being a good sport especially after I said I thought she sounded like Scottish comic Jane Godley. Jane was the comic who mimicked Nicola Sturgeon over the pandemic period. If you know you know. If not, and you have a spare few minutes, search out the sketches!

Finally, at the end of last year, I was asked to reserve a particular date for me to guide Guy and Tobay across from Courchevel 1850 to Val Thorens. That day came round last week, which fell on a beautiful weather day. They come from Bournmouth and have skied for many years since childhood so were a good standard which enable us to travel this distance.

Guy and Toby revisiting Val Thorens after so many years.

During the course of the day it transpired that they had stayed in Val Thorens many years ago, if my memory serves me the final time was back in 2008. It was really interesting listening to them talk about the ski area over in VT, in particular their comments about how many of the ski lifts had been upgraded since they had last skied there. It was a roasting hot day, but we still managed to find some lovely winter snow on the high north facing pistes, for example Morraine, Tete Ronde on the Peclet, and Asters.......

My 'Piste du Jour' with Guy and Toby...... Asters. But the Morraine blue piste was a very close second!

It was great meeting you both, and I am glad the weather was on our side for your day. Right, that'll do for now. My wife Harriet is travelling out at the weekend, along with our niece Megan who has never been to Méribel before. Can't wait. Plus, all of a sudden, next week is the first week of the Easter holiday. Do stay up to date on the Socials, and I'll be back soon. As ever don't forget to Live With Passion. Martin.

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