Saturday, 23 April 2011

Norquay's closing weekend.

This weekend will be Norquay's last of the season, marking the end of an incredible 6 months. Although I'm not leaving immediately it feels like the end as the place where I've probably spent more time than anywhere else (possibly including my house . . . okay probably not my house) shuts. 
It's been an amazing last weekend so far, two blue bird days and a pretty cruisey time for me working on the lifts. Hopefully tomorrow will be much the same, and then we'll be having a few beers at the staff party afterwards. 

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Level 2 and the wolf.

My level 2 retest went really well and, as I mentioned in my previous post, I passed it.
We also had Warren Jobbit ski with us for the morning of the second day. He was there to get some video for next year's Level 2 standards video, so, having passed, I may be in the video for next year's courses which is pretty exciting.

Today as Dave and I were walking home from Town Noel came out of his house to tell that there was a wolf hanging around at the top of our street. So, naturally, Dave ran in for his camera and we got some really good snaps, and an impromptu walk up tunnel mountain. Here is a selection of the snaps we got:

The wolf:

Dave tracking some wolf tracks: 
Taking in the views:

All in all, a good, last minute trip!

I passed my CSIA Level 2 Instructor course.

You heard.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

This week just gets longer and longer.

Today at work I sold $600 of lessons over the next 3 days, which means that this week I'll have sold $900 in total.
Obviously, that's really good, because I'll definitely have full days of work and I get commission on the lessons. However, it does mean I'm going in on Sunday, which was gonna be my day off, and then I'll be working Monday and Tuesday on the lifts so I'll have done 13 days straight of work by Wednesday. I'm gonna be tired as hell by then but my next pay cheque is going to be pretty sweet, I think.

For now, onwards and upwards with another 5 days of work!

Sunday, 3 April 2011


Here are some photos from the blue-bird day we had at Norquay today. The sky was the rich blue typical of Alberta and the sun shone all day.
Here are Tate, Coo and Phil who I went skiing up Big Chair with, Banff sitting in the valley behind them.
 This is another view of the Bow valley from the run we took off big chair.
 This is the view from the top of Spirit chair, with Rundle Mountain in the distance.

Lots and lots of work.

After a fairly diminished pay cheque for the last pay-period I've been racking up a lot of hours this week. I've worked one shift on the lifts and one shift in the evening at tube town. I've also been working at ski school and had 10 hours of lessons last week, plus 2 today to start the new week. I was also named pro of the day, because in the last week or so I've sold about 5 more private lessons to students I've had who've really liked me and wanted more lessons with me. So, not only was it cool to be pro of the week but I'll also get commission on all those lessons which will be another nice boost to my pay cheque, plus I got a $20 tip off one my students' parents both yesterday and today.

Working with the lifties has, however, meant that I've basically got no days off this week, as ski school is still busy at the moment because it's spring break, and I'm also going in a lot to take the requests I've had! So, my next day off is next Sunday (1 week from today) and today was already my fourth day in a row. So, a 10 day week for me this week!

I've been teaching some pretty funny kids and having a lot of fun over the last few days. I had two sisters, Alexis and Victoria, who were big Harry Potter fans and so I made up a couple of Potter-based games that helped them work on balancing over the down hill ski and they / we had a lot of fun with it. I also had two 3 and 3/4 year olds, Sophia and Colburn, who were also fun to teach. Sophia had some trouble turning left and at one point she ended up in the deep snow at the right hand edge. As I picked her up, turned her round and started sliding across to get her going she started laughing and clapping her hands. She obviously had more fun skiing with others than trying by herself. Still, by the end of the lesson she was turning both ways which was very cool. Colburn was pretty good throughout the lesson, apart from at one point sliding down into the top of the terrain park, which meant we had to go through it, obviously avoiding the jumps. As we were about to get going Colburn said, "Can you help me now?!", after I'd helped Sophia down to where he'd stopped, skiing backwards in front of her holding her hands. Sophia then piped up and said, "no help me!" At this point Colburn grabbed hold of my hand, "no help me!". Sophia countered by shuffling closer and grabbing hold of my leg, "help meeeeee!" I took me a minute or two to get untangled and convince them that they could both ski by themselves.

I also went out skiing with Gord yesterday and we worked on some stuff to help me get ready for my level 2 retest, and after that he told me this morning that I had been skiing at the level 2 standard which was naturally very good to hear.

Tomorrow I'm back on the lifts then I've got another 5 days in ski school.

Ahhhhhh, here goes.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Have you been avoiding me?

Sorry, Blog, for my prolonged absence. I decided to wait to update until after my level 2 course had finished, and unfortunately I didn't pass and subsequently didn't really feel like posting about it.
That being said, I did pass half of it. The course is in two parts, a teaching / assessing part and a skiing part. I passed the teaching / assessing part but no the skiing, which was really quite the bummer.

That being said, half is half and better than nothing, and I can keep that pass forever and ever, so that if I do a retest I only have to be assessed on the skiing half and not the teaching again. Hopefully I'll get the chance to do this in April. With that in mind, I've been out practicing a lot lately to try and be ready for it. I went out for a session with Fred, one of the level 3s at Norquay, and my friend Phil, who is training for his level 3, although he probably won't take it this season. Fred explained a couple of things to me that I'd been pretty confused about and we had a really good session so I feel a lot better about things after that. He also said that he thinks my fail for the skiing part must have been pretty boarderline, as he said that, judging by my skiing today, I was pretty much at standard.

In other news, I'm going to be working a couple of days a week as a liftie, probably for the rest of the season, which is good because ski school is slowing down and so this will keep my pay cheque pretty sweet and help me get through the rest of my time here.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

My life is like ooh, ah, ooh, ah.

Today was so good.
After a pretty lazy day off and some good football at the high school yesterday I got the 9.35 a.m. bus to Norquay. I took my snowboard boots and from about 10.00 till about 12.00 I went snowboarding. First I went over to mystic chair. I went down imp (blue) and knight flight (blue), then got the chairlift back up and did banshee (blue) and the bottom of giver grandi (blue), went up again and did the top of giver grandi (black - probably the equivalent of a difficult European red) and black magic (black) before heading back over to the lodge. I then did a few laps of the park before lunch which went really well.

After lunch we had level 2 ski-instructor training with Gord which also went really well and I got a lot of positive responses from the boss and so I'm pretty confident for my level 2, which is good considering it starts on Monday!

After that I got back on a board and hit the park for a few more laps and absolutely smashed it. It's interesting that I've taken to free style on a board way easier than on skis. I find that I'm way more confident and able to do much cooler stuff on a board than I dare to on skis. It feels a lot more natural than trying grinds and stuff on skis and I rocked it like a boss.
My trick repertoire is now:

50-50s on boxes.
50-50s on rails.
Back-side board slide on boxes.
50-50 to backside board-slide on boxes.
Straight air small jumps.
Indie-grab small jumps.

I was talking to Matt A, the senior snowboard instructor at Norquay (also a mate) and he said that I should have no problem with level 1, and I'm feeling increasingly confident for my skiing level 2.


Monday, 7 March 2011

Your 8 weeks are up.

This weekend marked the last installment of the weekend 8-week programs.
It's been really good working with the same groups on Saturdays and Sundays for the last month and a bit and I definitely felt like I'd gotten to know the kids in my Saturday group really well. They were all very sweet and said they'd miss me and didn't want the programs to end and gave me lots of hugs. Jenny's Dad, Dan, who was also one of the chaperons for the school, said I'd done a really great job and they'd all had a brilliant time, and he bought me lunch which was really cool. Other than that, however, I got no tips, which I wasn't too bothered about until I heard that a couple of the guys got about $150 in tips between their different kids. Just the luck of the draw, I suppose.

My Sunday group were less sentimental, all of them saying they wouldn't miss me apart from Anna-Maria, who said she would, even in the face of the others saying they didn't care. Typical, fickle 5 year olds, right?
Nonetheless, their parents all seemed very pleased and told me they'd had a really good and that I'd done a good job. Hugo's Dad said that, despite seeming like he hated skiing sometimes, Hugo had in fact really liked me and enjoyed himself. Still, no tips. Such as life.

Things are slowing down a lot now and so there are a lot less shifts on the mountain. It might be time to start looking for a part time job on the side, which I can then carry on with once ski school closes.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

85 cent day.

Having been drafted in yesterday, I spent today working. It was 85 cent day, which is a promotion that has been put on a few times this year as part of the celebrations of Norquay's 85th year. By the way, I learnt today that Norquay is the oldest, longest running resort of North America! Pretty cool. We were also offering $85 2 hour private lessons (for 2 people: add a 3rd for $30), of which I had 2 as part of my 5 hour day, completed by a 55 minute special at 9.00 a.m.
The two hours I had in the morning were with Sharan and Kaitlin, mother and daughter, who said they wanted to build up skiing double blacks. Naturally, hearing that at the start of the lesson was awesome and so we spent the whole two hours ripping around on Mystic riding bumps and tree lines (Sharan - the Mum - didn't do the trees, but Kailtin wanted to and she did well). We finished off the lesson by going down Sun Shoots, a double black, and so they were really pleased they managed to do what they set out to, which of course made it very rewarding for me.

I then had two hours with brother and sister Bennet and Alexandra who were good fun. We skiid off Cascade (on the green runs) and built up to a bit of parallel skiing, and at the end of the lesson their Dad gave me a $20 which was, of course, an excellent end to the day.

I then did a couple of laps of the terrain park with Will, my sort-of-housemate (he used to be in our flat but now is downstairs). He absolutely nailed a 540 off one of the medium jumps which was wicked to see, although it did cast something of a shadow over me nearly landing a 180. I landed it fine, but I only managed about 160 degrees of spin.

All in all, another great day at the office.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Back in the country.

We had another quiet day in terms of lessons on the hill today.
Max, Alex, Daniel and I were sent to help ski patrol remove and roll up some B-netting (the netting they put up along the edges of runs when races happen). It was kind of annoying, pretty cold and tough at times but we made the best of it and had some fun, especially considering the huge amounts of snow just off the side of the run that we went jumping into.

The day ended in amazing fashion, though. We got permission from ski patrol to go outside the ski boundary and we hiked over to a place called the South Bowl. Needless to say, in was incredible. Only 2 people had been there before us all year and that was ski patrol. The powder was incredible, it was about waist deep and, because it's outside the boundary, there was no snow pack underneath meaning it was just deep, deep soft snow. We stuck to the edges, near the trees, to avoid setting off avalanches but nonetheless it was incredible.

It was a little sketchy at times, when we were on our way down through the trees to the ski-out and it got pretty skinny. Despite that, and a bit at the start where we ended up doing a lot of hiking and weren't quite sure where we were going, it was awesome and, if I get the chance, I'd definitely do it again.

So, my first endeavor into some back country skiing was a veritable success.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Just another day at the office.

Today we had a lovely, spring-feeling - 29 on the hill, which meant that, much like yesterday, a lot of those who had booked lessons didn't show up, so I got to ride all day.
My best runs of the day were 3 laps of Big Chair that I did at the end of the day. As we pulled up to the chair we heard that Gun Run, a double black, had just been opened, and so Alex, Yannick, Kelly, Iona and I all jumped on, with a few of us keen to hit the newly available powder. As we got to the top of the lift I saw a bunch of snowboarded lining up to go down Gun Run, and so instead of waiting for the others and giving the boarders a chance to tack out all the snow I just zoomed straight off and down Gun Run, where I got an awesome line through fresh snow.

As I arrived back at the top of Cascade chair and was about to head back to Big Chair, I heard Gord (Ski school director, my boss) call me as he was just getting off the chair,
"Where're you going Jon?"
"Big Chair."
"Awesome, come with me!"

Gord Then took me to a run off the North American Basin where no one else had been and he and I swept through making the first tracks of the day, despite it being about 2 p.m. We did two laps, and so I basically got half an hour of private tuition from my boss which was awesome.

It's a hard job, but someone's got to do it.

Monday, 28 February 2011

The snow report says we've had 2 cm. . . yeah, we've had more than that.

Today was one my best days at work ever.
At the morning meeting I was told that I had an all day discovery lesson (for absolute beginners) and so by 9.05 I was on the slopes and I made the day's first tracks down a couple of the black / double black diamond runs off Mystic chairlift.
Upon my return to the lodge for my lesson, I was told that in fact it had been recorded wrong and the lesson had been booked for March 28th, not February 28th. So, I spent the whole day going out and skiing in between hourly check ins, none of which yielded any lessons. There were very few punters on the hill because it was pretty cold (low of - 23) and snowing all day, plus it was a Monday, so I was constantly finding more fresh powder: I don't know what the official figure was but in places the snow was knee deep.
My top 2 runs of the day were:
1. A run down through the trees between two runs off Mystic chair which was awesome.
2. Going down the shoulder at the edge of Rob's Run (a black diamond - the equivalent of a European red) where the combination of the actual depth of the snow, the steepness of the pitch and my hard-charging meant that the snow was effectively waist deep as I went down, which was amazing.

After signing out at 1.00 Yannick, Yannick (two German guys in ski school) went out snowboarding. We went over to mystic and I made it down my first black diamond run on a board without having any real falls . . . that is to say, I fell once, but it was just as I starting going and it was because the front of the board went from sliding to dead stop under all the snow.

All in all, it's pretty incredible that I get paid for days like today.

Tonight I'll go play football (proper football mind, the English kind) at the high school and then back to work tomorrow for, hopefully, some more shredding!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Sunday always comes too late.

My lessons today went, on the whole very well. I had a bit of a hiccup with me A.M. minit mites, whereby after 2 runs Sophia, who it turned out only wanted to have a little snack, went from laughing as she skiid down and having a great time to sitting down on the slope, bawling her eyes out and asking for her momma, which is obviously the method of communication she thought most appropriate, rather than, "can I have a snack?" Other than that, the mini mites did a great job as usual and we got some good skiing in.

I then had a 2 hour private with a 6 year old called Emily, who was a good skier and who did really well, but who was very quiet, so the 7 minute chair lift rides got a little awkward. Excluding this, and to be honest I think I did quite well at keeping conversation going, the lesson was really good and she said she enjoyed it so our lesson next Sunday afternoon should be similarly successful.

I'm working for the next three days as well, but I don't think a few beers this evening could hurt.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Saturday, wait

The penultimate week of my Saturday program went really, really well.
None of the boys turned up which was a shame, but Emma, Rachel, Jenny and I did some really good skiing. They love going over little bumps and jumps and going down all the little tracks through the trees dotted around so we had some fun with that. In afternoon we got over to Spirit and Mystic chairs and went down some nice blue runs which was a really big achievement for a group who hadn't been able to stop on the magic carpet when I started with them.

Next week there's going to be a bit of a party with some music and stuff for the end of the programs which should be a lot of fun. On the other hand, it seems I'm going to have to write some report cards for the kids which might be a bit of a drag, then again Jenny's dad said he'd give her some money to buy me lunch next week to say thank you which is really nice, and who knows, I might get some tips off the other parents.

Tomorrow, another week of my Sunday morning mini-mites.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Friday, I'm in love.

Today was the fairly lazy day I predicted. I was exceptionally successful in buying a new ski coat which is awesome, it's a yellow and black north face coat which came with a reversible liner jacket and together they're really warm. It cost me $220 in all, which was after 30% (also known as $90) had been taken off in the sale.

I also went up Sulphur Mountain with Dave, my housemate, and his cousin, Sebastian Monster (yes that's really his name) who's visiting at the moment. The views were breath taking and they got some spectacular pictures, which you can expect see some of soon.

Onwards to the weekends and the next installment of my 8 week programs.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Thursday doesn't even start.

Today I went on another awesome road trip with Jeremy and Jon Kress from ski school. The three of us went to Castle Mountain, another BC ski resort where we get unlimited free reciprocal lift passes.

The day was almost a write off because it was absurdly cold. As we waited for our lift passes to be printed we heard ski patrol come over the radio saying it was - 45 with the wind chill, and a liftie told us that at the start of the day it had been - 60 at the top of "red chair", which goes up to all the best, steepest terrain, and which remained shut all day.

Nonetheless, we made the best of it and still did some pretty hard charging and got a lot of good runs through the shoots, over jumps and cliffs.

Tomorrow I'm going to be having a pretty chilled out day off, not least because it's going to be around - 25 / - 30 again.

Wednesday break my heart.

Wednesday was pretty awesome, we'd had some snowfall which made for good conditions and I got 4 hour of lessons plus I set up the magic carpet which gets me another hour's pay.

My 4 hours were with 2 British Children, Erin and Finlay, from The Wirral, who were a treat. Finlay made me laugh when he responded to the offer of hot chocolate with, "I'd rather have a cup of tea. I do love a cup of tea" in a little 6 year old northern accent.

They both seemed to have a good time and they definitely improved so it was a very successful day.

I also got a great run down Lone Pine, off Big Chair, after my lessons. The snow was great up there which made for a great run down despite my legs being pretty tired after the 4 hours of teaching.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


Today I only had 2 hours of lessons but I had a really good session with Dale, Georgia and Keely. We skiid the Sun Shoots, a double black run off Mystic Chair and then we went up Big Chair and came down some more steep terrain off there. 

This week I've felt like my skiing has been really good and really technical. A lot of the time I'm guilty of sacrificing good technique for speed but lately I've been slowing down and thinking about skiing properly which has yielded some good results. 

Hopefully I'll making a trip to Panorama, another ski resort around 2 hours away, with Jeremy on Thursday, so if that happens it should be really good. For now, I'm going to see Gnomio and Juliet tonight, which I'm sure will . . . pass the time, and then back onto the mountain on Wednesday and another week with Meadow and Wyatt. 

Monday, 21 February 2011

Monday you can fall apart.

Today I had a very busy day on the hill. It was family say so naturally a lot of people were up for their holiday and there were a lot of lessons going out. In the end, I had 6 hours of teaching, and as it's a national holiday I get 1.5 X pay, so it'll be a nice little boost to my next pay cheque.

Most of my lessons went really well, with the exception of one. I had a 2 hour private with some Russians, 3 adults and a 2 year old, to be precise. When told that we don't give lessons to 2 year olds, they said he was 3, then they said he was 4. Nonetheless, he couldn't speak English and he didn't seem to like me. Another relative was also there, not on skis, trying to help him. At one point, she was trying to pass him over to me to ski down the small hill with and he was refusing to come with me, so he just fell over and started crying. I tried to pick him up but he wouldn't let me help him and continued to cry. The other relative there walked down and I thought she was going to help him up and talk him round, but instead she produced a camera and took a picture of the bawling child. After 20 minutes the mum and child dropped out of the lesson having realised that it was pretty much impossible for me to teach him. I then carried on with the two guys but the kid's Dad also dropped out after about an hour had gone by and I only carried on with the last bloke for around 20 more minutes, so the lesson finished 45 minutes early.

All in all it was a really good day though,  I even got a great run down Big Chair in.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Family Day Weekend.

This weekend the programs I normally teach were on a hiatus for Family Day, which is tomorrow. Basically, this is a national holiday brought in by a conservative government a few years back, which they had also used as the hook with which they caught the voters.

I still worked 3 hours each day though: on Saturday I had one hour with a little girl who could pretty much ski the whole mountain which was very cool and then a 2 hour special with a family from San Francisco who were also good fun; today I had 1 hour with twin 4 year old boys, Adam and Marcus, who were a lot of fun, although they thought that going in a straight line really fast was a much better idea than learning how to snow plow, and so as I skiid down backwards in front of them they continually tried to get underneath my legs and out the other side to freedom.

There was a Dog Sledding company on the mountain this weekend with a tent and two dogs who were the coolest dogs I've ever seen. They looked very proud and were super friendly and I quite wanted to steal one. Alas, I have no pictures.

I'm now going to be working the next three days as well, then I'm off Thursday and Friday.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Road Trip

Our road trip to Kicking Horse and Revelstoke was incredible.
The trip kicked off at 8.00 a.m. in Banff after we picked up the car and go onto the road. It took us 2 hours to get to Golden, where Kicking Horse and we were on the Gondola by 10.40 having gotten our free lift passes and Kat having gotten some rental poles because she forgot hers.
We then proceeded to have an amazing day shredding powder, hitting vertical drops and jumping cliffs. Here's a little video:

At the end of the day we went to Revelstoke, which took us about another 2 hours on the road. We then found a place called the Powder Springs Inn where we got a room for $109, plus $10 for an extra person, and we got free breakfast and 10% off our food bill at the attached bar, so in the end we paid $67 each for dinner, the room and breakfast, which we were pretty happy with. 

We then headed up to the mountain for another awesome day's skiing at Revelstoke. We got going with some  great runs through the glades there where there was still some super nice powder. However, after doing a pretty awesome, though difficult double black run under the Gondola I was suffering from some pretty bad shin bash, so I decided to take the afternoon off and I had a little sleep in the car while Phil and Kat continued to tear it up on the hill. 

The drive back was pretty interesting. The first two hours, from Revelstoke to Golden went smoothly and we made good time. After our break there though we ended up in and out of snow storms with huge trucks ripping past us, so visibility was really poor and we only did about 60 kilometres an hour for a lot of the time. In the end the journey home took a total of 5 hours so it was the longest journey I've ever done, the first journey I've ever done out of England and the first I've ever done in those conditions! So, all in all it made for some pretty interesting driving. 

Nonetheless, although pretty hairy at times it was definitely worth it for the amazing skiing, and I'd do it again for sure. 

Monday, 14 February 2011

Something I forgot.

There's a Canadian married couple called Don and Donna who work at Norquay at the weekends who passed something on to me they heard at a dinner party or function of some sort.
They were talking to the mother of Sophia, who's one of the kids in my Sunday A.M group, and she said that she was really impressed that I'd managed to win Sophia round, as she had said previously that she wanted to have a girl instructor, but has told her mum since that she likes me and likes being in my group.
The good feedback is rolling in! 

Monday, Monday.

Today I had a wicked day teaching. I had a 2 hour discovery lesson with a married couple which was good fun, although the wife suffered from some confidence issues which, at one point, resulted in her crashing into me and taking me out, which was, naturally, loads of fun.
In the afternoon I was expecting to have one of our valentines day specials, but in the end I was with two adult guys, as their wives had decided they would be better of together considering the difference in ability, so we skiid all over Spirit and Mystic chairs, did a couple of black runs and worked on their technique in carving turns and over bumps. We had a lot of fun and they gave me a $20 tip at the end which was pretty cool!

Tonight I'm going to go play football at the local secondary school again which should be cool, then probably have a bit of a night out before my day of tomorrow. I plan on going boarding again tomorrow and we'll sort out our car and our reciprocals and then it's plain sailing to our road trip on Wednesday! Woop!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Weekend Repeats.

My weekend programs all went very smoothly this week, despite there being relentless snow all day on Saturday. The 3 brothers in my Saturday group, Chase, Trae and Jet weren't there this week, so our group was reduced to 4, which was fine and we got some good skiing done. Today my Sunday group had gotten an extra member, Gabi, which was fine, she was at pretty much the exact same ability level as the others and so we carried on trying to get to grips with parallel turns.

As I said, it snowed all day on Saturday, so today there was some really nice snow, so we got to do some great shredding first thing in the morning and in the afternoon (after I was done with lessons) and I hit some nice tree runs and plenty of snow.

Phil, Dave and I have planned ourselves what promises to be a sweet road trip for this week. We'll be leaving Banff (if everything's cool with the car rental) at about 6.00 a.m. to get to Kickinghorse by about 8.00, sort out our ski passes and ski all day there. At the end of the day we'll drive to Revelstoke, spend the night in a Youth Hostel and then ski there all day on Thursday, then drive back home, getting back to Banff at about 9.00 or 10.00 or so. It should be an excellent trip as both those resorts have some great snow at the moment as well as some nice, steep terrain.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Catch up.

Things since last Wednesday have carried on much the same. My 8 week programs have continued to go well as I begin to introduce some parallel skiing to the kids. I had a couple of days on the hill with no lessons, which basically means I get paid about $30 to ski, which I really can't complain about.
I've been spending some time in the terrain park recently learning some tricks. So far, on skis, I can ride boxes (sideways) pretty well and I'm building up to 180s of jumps. On a board  I can 50-50 on boxes but that's about it, though I'm pretty happy with that considering my limited experience on a board.

We few of us are planning on going up to the free ice rink at the Banff Springs Hotel and playing some "shinny", which is what Canadians call the ice-hockey equivalent of having a kick about, so that should be good fun.

Phil and I are also trying to get a group together to make a little road trip to the Marmot Basin in Jasper to ski there for a day, so we've been looking up car rentals, although that'll probably be our main / only expense because we've got vouchers for a free night at the youth hostel there and we get 1 free day skiing there as one of the reciprocal deals that come from working at Norquay.

So, plenty of plans being made for exciting times ahead. For now, onwards towards the weekend and another round of programs.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


Today I had a(nother) good day on the hill.

In the morning I had no lessons, so I went riding with Matt Berry for a bit, and then I went up Big Chair. I timed myself, and I managed a lap in 12 minutes and 19 seconds, which includes a 7 minute chair ride and a double-black diamond run. I did this because I'm beginning to get ready for the challenge that you can do at Norquay where you have to do 27 laps of Big Chair in a day. You don't get much if you do it, just a little Gold pin and some pride, but it would be cool to say I've done it so I think I wanna give it a go.

In the afternoon today I had the 3rd week of my 8 week private and it went really well. On Wednesdays I have Wyatt (who has been really difficult in the past, frequently sitting down in the middle of the piste saying, "I give up, I can't do it") and Meadow (who has been a dream and an excellent skier). This week things finally turned round with Wyatt, who suddenly seemed interested in skiing and, thank the lord, finally managed to turn both in both directions, which he hadn't been able to do before, after many drawings in the snow and a lot of watching meadow and pointing out his straight tracks. While he mastered steering, I had Meadow try some parallel, getting her to do turns in snow plow but ski parallel during the traverse, which she got on with very well.

Needless to say, I had a lot of snowballs thrown at me today.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Weekend Programming

The last two days I had my weekend programs, which both went very well.

My kids on Saturday were a little excitable, but they came round and we did some good skiing. At one point they were accusing me of having killed all the bears, as well as having sunk The Titanic, two feats I can only dream of having the power to actually perform. This then led to a pretend phone call to the police, informing them of my sins and asking that they come to arrest me "at Banff, at a mountain", which did rather make me chuckle. Saturday night was a pretty quiet one before I went back up the mountain today.

My Sunday Mini-mites group was depleted by 1, as Hugo didn't turn up, apparently because he was sick. The four of us (Anna-Maria, Janelle, Sophia and I) soldiered on through the - 16 temperatures and did about 4 good runs in our 2 hours, which I was pretty satisfied with. I would have liked to have gotten on to doing some parallel ("french-fry") turns, but it was not to be.

After this and after some lunch I went for a Level 2 training / steep terrain session which was good, I always feel like my skiing gets better after these. A nice moment for me was when I was on Big Chair (the 2-man that goes up to all the steepest expert runs) with Yusaku (who had been teaching us) and he said, "so, you're pretty good at skiing bumps and powder, I see" which was awesome.

I then went up with a bunch of the other instructors and had a run at the Acrobag: basically a huge, cuboid bouncy castle with a huge jump in front of it. These are mainly used for pros to practice huge tricks on, but we all just went and hit it for the big air and soft landing, which was really fun (videos to follow).

Finally, I had this email forwarded to me by Gord:

To whom it may concern.

I am writing to express my thanks to four members of your staff. 
Myself, my husband and our three boys visited your resort on Friday 
21st, Mon 24th, Tues 25th, Wed 26th and Thur 27th January of this 
year. Matthew had lessons with Daniel from High Wycombe, Iain and Kai 
had lessons with Sam from Australia and myself and Joe had lessons 
with Jon from Cambridge. They, alongside Gretchen on the front desk 
did everything possible to make our lessons go as smoothly as 
possible.They went out of their way to accommodate us and make sure we 
had an amazing time!

I have to congratulate you on hiring such good team members and them 
for taking their jobs seriously and not just treating us as something 
they had to do to pass the time! We have all left your ski resort with 
some excellent memories (and lots of  funny stories for the staff 
concerned to tell their friends later on after the resort has closed!)

Can you please pass this email on to the four people concerned to show 
them that their time and patience was very much appreciated! (Poor Jon 
certainly earnt his money teaching me to ski and was very patient- I 
would have lost my temper with somebody like me on day one and refused 
to teach them anymore!)

We are all home now (after a very long flight) but the skiing and 
snowboarding is all the boys could talk about on the way home and that 
is what they have spoken to other people about! We will definately be 
coming to Canada again next year and visiting your resort.

Thank you again and well done to you all.

Kind regards

Tracey Lewis (And Iain, Matthew, Kai and Joe)

Having that passed on was really cool, and Gord also mentioned it at roll-call this morning to everyone who gave the four of us a nice little round of applause; good stuff all round. 

It's difficult to believe that it's already the end of January, which means that thing will be picking in terms of how busy we are, and I'm scheduled for 5 days next week, with tomorrow and Thursday off. 

So, for now, in case I don't see you, good afternoon, good evening and good night. 

Friday, 28 January 2011

Finally, a day off.

So, I thought yesterday (Thursday) was going to be my first of two days off, but at the last minute Chappy recruited me to cover his shift while he does the pre-course for his Level 3 qualification. It was, however, a good day in the end, as I had 3 one-hour private lessons, all of which were requests. The first two were with Joe, a 3 year old from Oxford whose family is on holiday here who I taught every day this week and had who a really fun 4 lessons with, Tracey, Joe's Mum, who I taught twice and who was also a good student as well as being very friendly and a good laugh and Conrad, a Canadian 3 year old who I taught on Monday when I was covering Mary's lessons. So, I got 10% commission on all those lessons, having sold them by being so awesome, getting me 10% of $356.00 in all which will make a nice addition to my next pay cheque! It also means that I'm only $646.00 worth of lessons away from getting 15% commission on all the lessons I teach, which I don't think will take too long because I'm fairly sure that Conrad will be coming back for more lessons in the future, making me a happy, busy and well paid bunny!

Tracey and I also had a bit of a laugh during Joe's lesson as, while Joe and I did laps of the magic carpet / bunny hill (the slope for kids / beginners) there was also a group of kids that included children called "Jaden" and "Maveric". This prompted Tracey to ask me, "Where are Goose and Ice Man?!"

Wednesday night was the card board sled race and The British Bullet performed admirably. Here are some pictures just after we had finished it:

I think we did a pretty good job using only a LOT of cardboard, about 200 metres of duct-tape and one bin-bag!

Having clambered into our sled amidst palpable apprehension, our first race went off in dramatic style. After a slow start we witnessed two sleds collide in front of us, spilling their pilots across the track, and gained speed downhill thanks to the slickness provided by the bin-bag stretched across our undercarriage. The weight distribution was such that our sled span a full 360 degrees, during which we made contact with some of the crashed sleds' floundering crews. We emerged from the spin to find ourselves in second place behind a sled full of Aussies and thought to ourselves, "well, second place is good, and it is Australia day so we'll let them have this one." However, The British Bullet had other ideas and mustered all its patriotic gusto to sail past the green and gold for a spectacular victory.

Noel Martin, our Landlord, was there with his family (his children had also entered a sled in the design of a submarine) and he caught our race on video for posterity, so I'll keep bugging him about it and hopefully you'll see it on here in no time.

Today I expect I will be doing very little other than making a trip to the bank to cash in my pay before heading back up to the mountain for my programs this weekend.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

It's a crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy life.

Well folks, it's been a week since my last post, and what a crazy week it's been!
I worked Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, today (Tuesday, naturally) and I'm working again tomorrow, having volunteered to cover both Debbie and Mary's shifts after they managed to injure themselves falling down some stairs and playing football (proper football, mind, English football), respectively. So, I've been slamming in the hours at work and having a great time doing it. I had two runaway children who I found myself skiing down and diving underneath to stop them before the careered off into anyone or anything else that might have been in their path. Other than that all my lessons went very smoothly except my Sunday A.M. program, from which Quinn dropped out due to her recently discovered fear of the chairlift, so my Sunday group is now down to 4, which is a shame because Quinn, (of, "my toes hurrrt" fame) was a cute kid who often came out with some pretty funny stuff.
On Monday, the day I was covering Mary, I had a 1 hour private lesson with a 3 year old from England called Joe. He and his mother (who stayed with us for the lesson) liked me so much that she went and bought 3 more lessons with me this week for a total just short of $300, on which I got 10% commission which will be a nice little bonus in my next pay cheque! I taught Joe again today and, upon discovery of his love of Indiana Jones, we went down the bunny hill singing the theme tune to ourselves, which, I must say, made the process of him learning to snowplow infinitely more dramatic.

Monday night was also the staff party at Tube Town which was a lot of fun, and tomorrow night is the Norquay Cardboard Sled derby, in which my fellow instructors Nathan, Phil, Tom and I are entering. The rules are that sleds may only be constructed using cardboard, tape, string and bin bags, and we have constructed quite the behemoth (pictures to follow.) We've named our team "the British Bullet", us all being Brits and our sled being shaped a little like a bullet and we hope for great success tomorrow night in the race! Tomorrow is also Australia day which we will undoubtedly be celebrating in style, considering the number of Aussies that work up at Norquay, and with Thursday off work it promises to be a big night!

Thursday and Friday will be 2 very welcome days off after 6 consecutive days of work before going back up the mountain for my Saturday program with Team Awesome!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Sunday, Monday, happy days.

My Sunday program went pretty well, albeit despite a hiccup whereby one of the kids refused to go on the chairlift. We'd all been up it last week and I also know she's been up all the lifts before with her Dad Andre, who's the head-honcho up at Norquay. This made it pretty confusing as to why she wouldn't go up, be she insisted she was to scared and wouldn't go on. So, seeing as the rule is that you always go at the pace of the slowest skier, we stayed on the magic carpet for our 2 hours.
However, this then led to two of the other parents getting concerned that their kids were in the wrong group and asking me if they should be moved up. I did my best to reassure them and suggested I go out again with their kids to see if they should be moved up, but they didn't want to pay for another lesson. They then went to Kathryn, the assistant ski school director, who then came to me so I had to explain it to her and then go to speak to the concerned parents again to explain that their kids were in the right group, we'd just had this problem with one of them being scared.
Kathryn helped me out a lot by saying she'd talk to Andre and explain to him about Quinn and ask whether it would be okay if, were she to refuse to come on again next week, she stayed inside while we went on the chairlift.

Hopefully Quinn will have come round next week, but if not I think this might have to be what we do because I understand that the other parents want to feel like they're getting their money's worth for the lessons.

Other than that, it was a good day, although the kids didn't make too many more contributions to the lift of hilarious things they've said, just the one:
Anna Maria: "Look at my valentine's necklace!"
Me:              "That's a pretty necklace, did a boy give it to you?"
Anna Maria: "NO! I'm not getting married!"

That did make me chuckle.

Today was also a good day: I slept in late but once I was up I went and hitchhiked up to Norquay (it's very common for people to hitch up to the ski hills here) and, seeing as my skis were being waxed / serviced I rented a board and boots and went for a ride. I got myself on the spirit (the chair to the intermediate blue runs) and did a few laps of those which was good fun. I can Ollie pretty well now and ride switch a little, but that'll take some more practice. I think it would be cool if I could get to be ambidextrous on the hill by the end of the season.

I've now got two days of work coming up, having said I'd fill in for Chappy, which also means that I'll get an extra day of work this week which is pretty handy.

So, probably a pretty chilled out evening ahead of me.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Saturday Program

The program today went well, the 6 level 2 kids did a really good job and we did a good few runs down the green run. I was really pleased with them, especially after they spent the first run or so falling down an awful lot, which made me wonder if I'd hit the chairlift too soon, but it all worked out and by the end of the day they were doing really well.

At one point on of the kids, called Chase, managed to pop one of skis off while on the chairlift (right at the bottom just as it took off out of the station), and so I ended up giving him a piggyback / fireman's lift down on that run, so that the others would end up having to wait for him for ages. So, that was fun.

Back on my A.M. program tomorrow which should be good too, another evening chilling out tonight, I think.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Good day instructing.

I had really good day instructing today. I had a "disco" lesson, which is a "discovery" lesson, which is where you get absolute beginners, take them through the rental shop and then spend all day with them.
I was teaching Rachel, from Liverpool and her friend Megan from California (under the watchful eye of their boyfriends, who seemed to check up on their progress fairly regularly.
We had a good day and they made a lot of progress so it was also pretty successful.

It was snowing it's ass off all day today though, as it has been for the last 2 or 3 days, and the snow up there was incredible, so I was a little jealous of those able to go all over the mountain making new tracks while I was stuck on the magic carpet. That said, I'm sure there'll still be plenty of snow left for when I'm able to hit the slopes in my own time, come Monday or maybe Sunday afternoon, and I'll have my fatter skis then so it should be awesome.

I've got my two programs tomorrow and Sunday, so I'm looking forward to that too.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

January will be pretty quiet.

The last few days have been fairly uneventful, what with the mountain being dead during the week leaving with us instructor types in want of some work. It's quite frustrating and I may have to look at getting another part time job in town. If I did do that, I'd most likely look at a couple of evenings a week at one of the ski or rental shops in town. That way, it wouldn't interfere with my instructing if that picks up in the future and I can learn a bit about the equipment which would be pretty cool.

In other news, we have two new house-mates (again). Alex, Dave and I have been joined by Lee (an Australian) and Rachel (a Canadian). They seem pretty cool so far and we get on well so maybe these guys'll stick around a bit, although that's not what the trend would suggest.

Back to work tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to it, I think it's the most excited I've been about having to get up at 6.30 a.m. for a long time. I really, really enjoy instructing and it's making me want to come back next year and do this again more and more. It's just a shame there's no one to teach during the week; I'd be up there every day if I could. This is also making me more sure about pursuing teaching as my ultimate career.

Tomorrow I think I'll just get what I get, but Saturday and Sunday I'll be working with the same groups as last weekend which will be good. I'm particularly loooking forward to what Quinn and Hugo might come out with this week, as they were pretty funny / cute last time round. Quinn sounded qutie a lot like this Zak Galifianikis Character: except she would say "my toes hurt", not "my beard hurts."

More on that story later.

Monday, 10 January 2011

First weekend instructing.

So I've just had my first weekend of lessons and it went really well.
On Friday I shadowed Chappy, one of the other instructors on Norquay for the morning, then in the afternoon he was booked to teach a group from Canmore, but the Scottish couple we'd been working with asked if I could stay with them and so that's what I did and we had a good lesson together.

On Saturday I taught the first weekend in an 8 week program. I had a group of 9 level 2 kids, where level 1 is never skid before at all, so they could stop but not turn. We stuck to the bunny hill and had a good day's teaching; it seemed to me like they made a lot of progress. It was also handy that Yannick (another instructor) took 3 of them off separately, because there was a fairly significant divide in the group in terms of ability. So with just 6 the afternoon was a bit better, plus I had 3 less people to pick up off their feet when they fell down.

On Sunday I had a group of 4 level 4 5 year olds just for the morning. Two of them were enthusiastic and fun to teach but the other two were a little difficult to convince that skiing was a good idea. One cried as her mum left and so stayed with her for a while before joining us on the magic carpet, and I had to tell one little boy that it he came skiing and did really well then he would get into The Guiness Book of World Records for being the most awesomest skier ever, after he said that he wanted to be at home looking at the pictures in it. One of the girls in the group was also the daughter of Andre, the boss up at Norquay, so hopefully she'll tell him that I'm awesome and he'll give me loads of money!

At the end of the day, 11 of us got recruited to clear the lodge's upper balcony of snow, which turned out to be a pretty enormous task, and after 2 hours we'd only managed half of it with our pick-axes and shovels, despite being fueled by free beer, so that was loads of fun(!)

I also taught myself to snowboard on Friday at the Norquay night skiing which was a lot of fun, and then a whole bunch of us went tubing, where you go sliding down a track in a rubber ring, which is also a pretty good laugh. So I'm on the way to becoming ambidextrous on the slopes, although for now I'll be sticking to the green and easy blue runs.

Unfortunately January is looking pretty slow and at the moment I'm only getting work on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. I'm going to have to work on selling some lessons (somehow) in order to try and get some more hours in so that I can get some cash coming in.

We're planning to take a trip to kicking horse this Wednesday, or maybe Wednesday of next week, which should be cool because apparently they've got tonnes of snow at the moment.

After having a pretty chesty cough and spending 3 days on the slope shouting out to students I've lost my voice, so for now I'm just taking it easy trying to feel a bit less groggy.