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.