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.