Category: Ski and Snowboard
So peak holiday season is over for another year and we can all collapse from exhaustion before embarking on low season hours and a more civilised life. It’s just as well the French let their kids out of school region by region – if they all descended on us at once we’d have to operate the kind of coloured armband system like they used to have when you went swimming on a Saturday afternoon.
It has to be said that only the greenest of noobs would book a skiing holiday in France in February. It’s not just the French – UK, Dutch and Belgian school holidays all combine to make the place anklebiter central, reduce all the roads to linear car parks and fill the mountains with terminally rude Parisians.
Why would you do it? Yes, I know people have children and all that, but be realistic – how much is your seven-year-old really going to miss if you haul him out of school for an extra week to go skiing? I know the teaching staff are going to wag their fingers at you, but that’s because they’re looking at a whole lifetime of nightmare half term ski holidays and don’t see why anyone else should have any fun.
Apart from anything else, peak season skiing represents possibly the worst value for money available. You’re paying top whack for transport and accommodation and there’s no way you’re going to get any kind of a deal on lift passes. And what do you get for paying this sort of top dollar? Traffic jams, queues at airports and ticket offices, crowded pistes, and a scrum to get served in the bars and restaurants. You ought to be getting a discount, if you ask me.
Possibly the most barefaced rip-off is at the ski schools. How many people would you like to see in your group ski lesson? Half a dozen or so, maybe? You do want to see what the instructor is doing, after all, and it might be nice to have a spot of individual feedback now and then. You are paying for tuition after all.
So presumably you wouldn’t be enormously chuffed to see your little dears in classes of 14 (no, that’s not a typo – 14) being led around the hill by someone hauled out of retirement for three weeks. You’d do better to pay for babysitting because that’s pretty much all you’re getting, particularly if yours is the kid at the tail end of the snake. Poor little sod is lucky if he can see the instructor at all at that distance.
Now, there are always going to be people tied to school holidays – teachers, parents with exam-age kids, whatever. But if anyone who doesn’t actually have to be there made strenuous efforts to get away on some other week, there would be a lot more space and better service over the holidays, and those shifting to low season would discover a whole new world of quiet runs, affordable accommodation and stress-free travel. Go on, try it. You might like it.
© Christa GIMBLETT
Category: Ski and Snowboard
High season is upon us once again here in the Alps and the slopes teem with overconfident incompetents, snowplough beginners and wet girlies allowing their boyfriends to teach them. Which would be fine (if a bit twee) except that most of the boyfriends fit into category ‘A’ above. There are plenty of good reasons why qualifying as a ski instructor takes ages and costs a small fortune, even in countries where they don’t insist on Olympic level slalom skills and an ego the size of a small planet.
I do wonder occasionally whether people treat other sports in the same casual way they do skiing. Do they decide one morning that they’re going to have a scuba diving holiday, buy a load of gear they don’t know how to use and then just hop into the briny? Or attach themselves to the back of a mate’s speedboat and expect to be able to waterski despite the fact they they’re significantly overweight and haven’t done anything more physically taxing than open the fridge door since they left school and were no longer forced to play hockey in sub-zero temperatures once a week?
Skiers tend to be marginally more sensible about all this than snowboarders – there’s an ingrained attitude amongst boarders that you are somehow less of a man if you stoop to being taught anything. Not being a man myself I wouldn’t know about that, but it only takes five minutes observation off the first chairlift to see that it certainly makes you less of a boarder.
Read more: Pay attention in class there!