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Most skiers talk with fond memories about the occasional trips where the snow conditions have been exceptional for the time of year. This was definitely the case for the 40 pupils from Year 7-10 who travelled to France at the start of the Easter holidays for a week’s skiing in the Alpes. Leaving the cold and wet of England behind we travelled overnight to reach the historic resort of Montgenevre in the southern Alpes. A traditional ski village, it is one of the oldest ski resorts and is located on the French/Italian border making it possible to ski both countries in the same day. It was in Montgenevre that some of the earliest ski races took place, mainly as a test for the mountain guides of the time.
Passing Grenoble on-route it was clear that the group were in for some good conditions, as where normally we would be looking out of the coach onto green fields and spring flowers, we were faced with high walls of snow created by the ploughs as they had worked to keep the pass over into resort open. On arrival the Hotel Rois Mages offered a simple but convenient location for our stay, being directly opposite the slopes and ski school meeting point. The pupils were divided into 4 levels of ski ability and each had two 2hr lessons per day.
Conditions were exceptional with the snow maintaining its quality throughout the day despite the warm sun. With the considerable depth of snow remaining from the winter acting like a refrigerator we avoided the normal slushy afternoon conditions experienced at this time of year. The groups progressed well, quickly gaining confidence on the slopes and soon even the beginners were travelling further up onto the mountain and enjoying the thrills of skiing the more expansive slopes. Several members of the advanced group, having skied during the week with their instructor, were entered into the Fleche slalom race on their penultimate day with Fin Shaw and Harriet Evans both taking first place in their respective categories. The Fleche event is held weekly by the Ski School and is open to skiers of all abilities, so their achievements deserve praise. Mention should also go to Ed Dove and Carmen Calland who also gained places in the top three for their categories. As if the general conditions during the week had not already been kind enough to us, fresh snow on the final evening meant we had spring powder to ski in for our last day. Conditions really don’t get much better!
Outside of skiing the evenings were filled with various après ski events which this year included a high speed bobsleigh ride from the top of the first lift station back into resort. This provided many screams of excitement from the students as they hurtled down the mechanical track descending through the trees securely fastened into the cars, controlling their speed with a mechanical brake. It also gave the opportunity for some good photographs. Other evenings were spent bum-boarding, visiting Briancon, a nearby historic fortified town, and participating in an in-house games and movie night.
The behaviour of our students was excellent and this was commented on by their instructors, who praised them on their general attitude and progress during the week as well as the Hotel staff for their general good manners and co-operative nature. Another successful trip with no real issues and not even a single trip to the medical centre.