Last weeks wonderful group from Bahrain have left after one my favourite times out in Switzerland and the fun loving and enthusiastic kids have been replaced by a new, interesting combination of teens. As three international schools have travelled out from England for a week they have also combined ski groups and so a strange but funny dynamic was created. Having older kids who only know half the group can go either way as they get to know one another, and I hope it can go well.
Half the group are very loud, brash and arrogant Americans who think they are the coolest things on skis whilst the other half are more reserved, respectful kids who have the potential to be more attentive and get more out of this week. They are all here to have fun which they will, but they are also here to become better skiers which isn’t such a certainty as they did do some pretty silly stuff.
As it was the first morning all the boys were giving it large about how good they are on the slopes and how they’ve skied double blacks and the hardest runs around and how they’re generally just the best thing about. However, they are a level 2 group (out of 4(one above 1)) so a lower intermediate level and evidently, not the next world freeriding champions. As they were giving out so much chat and skied surprisingly well down the easy blue run I thought I’d let them know why they are not in a higher level and took them down a more challenging red run. Some of them haven’t skied for a couple of years and obviously inflated the image of their abilities in their mind because as they tackled the red run, it didn’t go how they’d imagined it would.
One of the boys who had been the loudest throughout the morning took a particularly hard crash back to reality on his descent. At the top of a steeper section of the piste he flung his shoulders round and everything else followed so that he ended up facing up the hill before stacking it and losing a ski. Due to the slightly icier nature of the mountains at the moment he was unable to stop himself and so instead of skiing down, which he is apparently so good at, he just slid down headfirst whilst eating snow.
Another noticeably naive moment came after picking up ice skates for the evening. All of my kids went straight to the rental shop from the slopes and so had their skis and poles with them. After queuing up for a while and then trying on skates for a while they eventually got themselves sorted and were free to return to the hotel. As I was trying to bring order to the chaos outside by controlling the queue I noticed one of the girls in my group wander past me and start her short journey back to the hotel. She also wandered right past her skis and her poles and whilst nattering away to her friend continued merrily strolling along the road until I had to shout out to her the mistake she had made. Confused, she questioned why she wasn’t able to leave them outside the shop in the middle of the village for the night, a shop that we wouldn’t even be returning to, before begrudgingly collecting the equipment to bundle back with her.
My personal favourite moment of the day, however, came back up the mountain as part of the “we’re the best skiers in the world” saga. You’d think that the best skiers on the mountain, who should definitely be in a higher level, would be able to handle something so basic and simple as a button lift, but oh no, even someone in this group can’t handle the curse. On the way up I was daydreaming and sending a few messages on my phone with zero concern that these ski experts would have any trouble handling the elementary lift until suddenly with a whining cry I heard my name. I was astounded to look up and see one of the boys crumpled up on the snow sheepishly asking for help as he got up. I told him to wait on the side and that we’d be by shortly to pick him up but this apparently didn’t sound good enough. As I went past him he stood up and tried to catch a lift with me but failed miserably. So, the next best alternative to him was to try and get the next free lift. These lifts are retractable from the top at the wire and so if no one is on it, dangle along the lift line in the air. So as I looked back I watched him jumping hopelessly with his skis on, metres from catching the lift as he refused to just wait on the side. After that ship sailed I’d thought he finally accept defeat and watched him take off his skis, presumably to walk to the side. Then I looked back again to check his progress and was absolutely amazed to see him sprinting up the lift line with his skis over his shoulders refusing to miss out on the top section of the slope. I have never ever seen anyone run up alongside a lift before and to be fair to him, he was moving pretty fast and it didn’t take long for him to cover the final thirty metres, but there’s no way I’d rather run up than ski down.