After a solid morning working on my class’s beginners turns and technique we were all feeling pretty confident heading back out to the slopes after lunch. All morning they had been listening and focusing on the tasks and things were looking good on the snow. So good in fact that I began to let them set their own pace and pick their own lines down the cruisey blues of the resort, and slowly let them ski for longer and longer without stopping and soon I made the mistake of trusting them.
Having never been skiing before they had some differing opinions on certain terms to me. If I asked them to stop at the end of the run at the corner, for example, sometimes they wouldn’t stop where I was expecting them too.
As the group set off for what I imagined was a corner 200 metres down the hill I stayed at the back and coached down one of the slower, troublesome members of the lesson. As she dawdled slowly across the slope at speeds impressively slow I patiently slid alongside her expecting the rest to be around the corner.
As I turned around the corner I was presented with the glorious view of miles of piste and the horrible shock that my group of kids were nowhere to be seen. Round the corner, a couple of kilometres in the distance I spotted the first girl bombing it down the piste. No turns, no technique, just a power plough and no intention to stop. I spotted another instructor of a higher group and asked him if he passed any of my students to tell them to stop but they were in no mood to be caught. Even the teacher from the school who had joined the lesson was enjoying flying past me and he ignored my pleas to slow down.
Still coaching the most outrageously slovenly girl and begging her to go faster I lost track of the others. In the week of orientation at the company I had been briefed on procedures for losing one member of my group. I had lost 5/6 and had no idea what to do. I couldn’t leave the one soul destroyingly slow liability on her own and I couldn’t contact the others, I just had to hope that they had survived the descent and stopped somewhere sensible.
At this point I could see the end of my career at the company and as a ski instructor in general and pleaded with the snow snail to get moving. Agitation rapidly rising, the encouragement to the annoying devil who began slowing down in my time of desperation got blunter. At the point where after completing a turn the useless little diva sat down I lost it and shouted at her to get up and get going and the rage increased. My class were still missing and probably getting further and further away and this little spawn of Satan just looked at me, motionless, as I urged her so stand. The problem child had been winding me up all week, she wasn’t a bad skier but would deliberately crash and slow down for attention and during my emergency she decided to sit down and refuse to get up. Fuming, I pulled her up and pushed her down the mountain to get some speed up so we could hunt for the others.
Luckily, the resort of Saas Fee funnels past the restaurant where we had lunch and also where the cable car starts from and the rest of the group were waiting on a picnic bench outside. Absolutely delighted with their triumphant descent the rest of the group were on cloud nine with their accomplishment and couldn’t understand my frustration. Letting it slide I applauded their ability as to ski what they skied after only 4 days on snow was impressive and they were so happy I couldn’t be too mad. But on the next runs I made my instructions very clear about where to stop and wouldn’t make the mistake of trusting them too much again.