First day up at Saas Fee with the beginners after a couple of days getting to grips with the basics at gentler Saas Grund. There was a long delay as the bus didn’t show up to pick everyone up and to entertain the kids I slowly had my brain killed by going through the alphabet naming different countries, cities and animals. We didn’t get up to the slopes until about 11 but once we got going all was good.
To get warmed up we took a few laps around the button lift and a few small problems started to come through. A main struggle being a failure to understand gravity and that to get going after turning to a stop it is easier to just point skis down the hill rather than waddling across the slope not going anywhere. A million repetitions later of advising one girl to just ski rather than walk fell on deaf ears each time and at each stop I turned to the frustrating sight of her turning up the hill, stopping and then waddling across the snow.
At Saas Fee there is a tunnel through the mountain after getting off the main cable car, and it takes a few minutes to walk through. Ten kids who are wearing ski boots for the first time and can’t get a grip of carrying skis created a symphony of a thousand moans beforeI finally dragged everyone through to get to the piste and began the longest ski of their lives. As I had the boss with me the first run down went well. It was a long process but for kids to be on their third day skiing and to make it down the mountain was very impressive.
Second lap after lunch I was on my own with all 11 beginners. The cat track struck this time around with a few girls reverting to the power plough scream descent. Rather than doing the turns that they are more than capable of doing they just made a big wedge and screamed their way down until gliding to a stop at the flat end.
But after that their confidence grew and there were even some good looking parallel turns across the wide blue run before the next cat track where the flying crying technique was used once again to fly down the hill. One girl was gaining speed particularly quickly and began to overtake me. I turned to guide her through the process of regaining control by telling her to make a big turn in order to slow down. There was an empty piste on one side and a wall of snow on the other. I coaxed her to turn to me in the open piste but instead of turning into the empty groomer abyss, for some reason she went the other way into the embankment of powder and instantaneously flipped out of her skis, ejecting out of both and landed off the slope in a surprised pile.
To try and negotiate some good turn shapes with my group a game of cat and mouse was deployed. Hoping that the pairs would differentiate their turn shapes in order to lose each other and actually experiment with the sizes of turns was an entirely misplaced trust as they just bombed it down trying to hit each other. One girl adopted this tactic for the rest of the afternoon and each time we tried to ski down as a group she found it impossible to refrain from cutting through the line as she failed to turn and wiggled her way to the front.
This group has made incredible progress with their skiing and to be skiing the slopes they are in the way that they are is a great achievement. The occasional mishap is all part of the fun and a good learning curve and the improvement is there on each run.