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Trust Your Skis

Posted on
January 18, 2024

Hi everybody and welcome to another post from your favourite blogging ski instructor in Méribel. Since my last post ten days ago, the ski resort has continued to tick along as normal, with visitors arriving from all over the world. Plus, and oh my goodness, we've been on the receiving end of all sorts of weather. It still hasn't been particularly freezing cold yet, which is what we would often expect in January, however snow conditions are evolving and improving all the time. All of the photos featuring here were taken by me since the previous blog post.

A snowy Gelinotte blue piste looking across to Méribel Town.

Doesn't it all look so pretty? I know that sunny blue skies are a skier's dream weather wise, but sometimes these transitional days can knock your ski socks off. Last week I skied with the Roach family for a day, and I also skied several days with Mick, Susan and Astrid.

The day I was with the Roaches, I split my time between them because of the differences in standards and speed. We were able to suggest time slots for each skier, and organise rendezvous points for meeting up again. One time we were on a chairlift late morning, my mobile pinged through a message. So I took a quick look to check if any of these arrangements had changed.

Top of the Combes chairlift above Méribel-Mottaret.

In fact it was a quick message from Harriet my wife, so I read it quietly. It was good news on her side of the family, she was telling me how one of our nephews has got into Oxford Uni depending on his A level results. Thinking this was a topic that might be interesting to share. I mentioned it out aloud. I was dead chuffed of course, but then shocked to hear a muffled 'boo' coming from behind Harry's neck warmer!?! How rude I thought, and wanted to politely ask why he had booed. "I went to Cambridge Uni", was his reply. So does that mean there's a bit of beef between the two I asked? "Yes, especially if you are a rower!" he continued.

Here's Harry in the middle.

I decided to swiftly deflect away from his boo, and asked more about his rowing. He explained that he was part of the Cambridge rowing squad that was going to compete against Oxford in the annual 'Boat Race' on the River Thames. They started their physical training in September 2019, and ramped it up over many months. Sessions on the river, ergo trainers and of course gym work would've been relentless. Within a few seconds of him explaining this, I suddenly figured out the timeline, and asked the date of the race day had been the end of March 2020. Unfortunately the country went into lockdown because of Covid one week before the race! Can you imagine that? All of the training, the dedicated lifestyle over seven months, came crashing down to nothing!?! It was great to meet the Roach family.

Over the years, some of you may recall me speaking about my mate and fellow ski instructor called 'Slippers Jackson'. He is based in the ski area of Morzine, Les Gets and Avoriaz all year round. He also sometimes has clients here in Méribel. Last week he had just that, and stayed with me in my apartment. It was of course great to catch up and talk about all sorts of things including ski teaching.

Slippers Jackson visiting Méribel, over from Morzine.

During this time I was teaching Mick, Susan and Astrid when he was here. Team Piglet (self-named by them, and I have no idea why) often ski with Slippers Jackson over in Morzine. They come to Méribel one winter and ski with me, then often the following winter they go to Morzine and ski with Slippers, before repeating the routine again. I didn't tell Team Piglet that Slippers was here, so he and I coordinated a surprise meeting for them down at Chaudanne one morning. Great fun.

Astrid, Susan and Mick after having bumped into Slippers.

Anyway, enough of Slippers for this post. I hadn't skied with the Piglets since Jan 2020, so it was great being back with them again. They are wonderful characters and full of stories both skiing and non skiing. A mid-morning coffee stop was an important time of the day for them, as was a late lunch before safely heading back to their hotel late afternoon in Méribel. Can I quickly add that Mick originally comes from Wolverhampton and now lives in Cumbria. Astrid is German, and Susan is from Swansea. Imagine the wonderful blend of accents going on.

Coffee stop time at the Pilatus in Courchevel.

We revised various topics of ski technique, tactics, the physical side of things, and also psychological. We spoke about how we can gain confidence on skis, and also begin to learn to trust your ski equipment, and how the equipment really can work for you.

Over the first couple of days I noticed something rather strange. Several times each day I thought I heard Astrid shout out what sounded like a swear word! I discreetly asked Susan if she had noticed this as well. She said yes, she had picked up on the fact it was when someone skied closely to Astrid. Over the next coffee stop, I put my big pants on and asked Astrid what in fact she was shouting. In her assertive Germanic tone, she said the word being used was 'Pistensau' without anything explaining further. I quickly went onto my Reverso App and looked up the translation, and found that Pistensau means 'Piste Pig'. Apparently this is a common thing to shout in Germany and Austria at idiots on the pistes who ski too fast and too close to you. This trend then continued between all of us for the rest of the week!?!

Mick and Astrid beginning to trust their skis on the Gentianes piste in Courchevel.

As mentioned earlier, the weather has been very changeable, much to the delight of Mick. He is a scientist, and has tremendous knowledge of atmospheric conditions as well as thousands of other things. On one particular day he pointed out a Brocken Spectre, as well as a type of Sun Dog, and then part of something called a Solar Halo. He explained that this knowledge grew when he worked in Antartica for a year when he studied Aurora Borealis. How amazing would that have been? I asked him when this project took place, he answered, in 1966!?!

Funky atmospheric conditions towards Roc de Tougne.
Stunning 'Sea of cloud' scenes, without any Pistensaue!
Top of Roc de Fer.

That's it for the latest update from Hemsley's World here in Méribel. The forecast continues to bounce around, with no weather stability in sight yet. Do stay in touch via The Socials if that's your thing. and as ever, don't forget to Live With Passion. Martin.

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