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Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors

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My Mate ‘Slippers’

Posted on
November 27, 2011
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Last Thursday and Friday I had my first ski of this winter over in Tignes. My mate and fellow ski instructor Slippers Jackson stayed with me in Méribel overnight, prior to us driving across on both days. We were also joined by another instructor Bryan Hogg on the Friday.

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It was brilliant being back on skis again, if not a little wobbly at first. We had stunning weather on both days, plus the snow was pretty good as well. It didn’t take long for the banter to start between Slippers and me, after all we have known each other for many many winters.

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I first met Slippers about fourteen summers ago when we were both mountain bike guides over in the Portes du Soleil. We would say the odd polite hello to each other, but that was about it mainly because we were working for two different companies. That soon changed the next winter during a ski instructing training course and assessment, we recognised each other again and instantly hit it off and became very strong friends.

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I don’t often talk about the process of becoming a fully qualified ski instructor, because it could easily be interpreted as being big-headed, but it is extremely difficult to pass the very strict exams. Slippers and I for many autumns and winters helped and supported each other along this emotional path. We have shared some incredible experiences, some very rewarding, but also some rather unpleasant down right failures and rejections mostly to do with the European Speed Test. The Euro Speed Test is a stringent Giant Slalom race that both of us really struggled with and had to travel around France and other Alpine nations in order to attempt. I even had two full ski seasons down in New Zealand solely to race train, to help me achieve my goals, no work, no income, just an investment in self improvement!?!

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On Friday we both watched with admiration a French second tier team train their Giant Slalom  athletes. And to be honest, even though Slippers and I eventually reached our goals of passing the Euro Speed Test, these chaps were something else. But without banging on about stuff the average holidaymaker wouldn’t understand, let me move on. Both Slippers and I absolutely love the sport of skiing and the high mountains, we both love teaching, and we both adore passing on our passion to anyone who is willing to spend time with us during the winters.

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But, there is a difference between Slippers and I. Boy oh boy has he been through the wars to get to this stage of his career, and I’m not talking about gaining the Full French Equivalence of qualification that not even most of the local aspirants get to. Since I’ve known Slippers he finally gained a much needed hip replacement, no mean feat. He told me on Thursday that his other hip is on the way out as well. He also suffers from rheumatoid arthritis!?!

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He is one of the most positive chaps I’ve ever spent time with, especially in the mountains. So when I received a phone call last winter to help cover for him and teach as a replacement because he was unable to work for a few days due to a ‘fall’, I did my best to help out. On a chairlift last week I asked him more about this event and he eventually opened up and said that he had fractured his pelvis in two places. But he got back on skis within a week and continued teaching. How very humbling…. The next time I feel a little stiff and tired during the winter I think I shall just shut up and get on with it!

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Blimey, that got a little heavy. But listen, one of the awesome things about being a ski instructor other than living in the high mountains each winter, is sharing the passion of the sport. I get to meet some amazing characters, and briefly share experiences of everyday lives that I wouldn’t normally come across. Bring on the next instalments.

Martin     

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With our skills- based system of learning, we give you the tools to safely negotiate any demands the mountains make on you, helping you to increase your comfort zone and ski in a wider range of conditions. Whether you are a nervous novice, a blue piste cruiser or an all mountain adventurer, we tailor your ski lessons to create a perfect fit. The question is, which one are you?

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With our skills- based system of learning, we give you the tools to safely negotiate any demands the mountains make on you, helping you to increase your comfort zone and ski in a wider range of conditions. Whether you are a nervous novice, a blue piste cruiser or an all mountain adventurer, we tailor your ski lessons to create a perfect fit. The question is, which one are you?

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