Season Opener, Meribel Dec 2013 - Sun, sun and more sun!
The 2013 Season Opener in the Three Vallees was blessed with some great piste conditions and a week of virtually unbroken sunshine. Our most popular season opening trip saw three coaching groups make great progress with their skiing, enjoy the best of the Three Vallees and enjoy the two superb chalets that we used as our base for this trip.
Inside Out Skiing coaches Rob, Scott and Jojo (who is based in Meribel with our alpine partner Marmalade ski school) were on duty for the week, leading our Performance, Skills and Improver groups. The group ranged from relatively inexperienced skiers who were developing their skills on green and gentle blue pistes, through to more experienced skiers already qualified as Level 1 ski instructors working their way towards their Level 2 qualifications.
Inside Out Skiing coaches Scott, Jojo & Rob
Despite some delays from the collapse of the UK air traffic control centre (never a good thing on a transfer day!) everyone eventually arrived in Meribel in good time for welcome meetings and the splendid catering of our accommodation partner Ski Hame, staying either in Chalet Grange a Charlotte in Meribel Les Allues or in Chalet Martin in Meribel Raffort.
Typical piste conditions for the week. In a word, superb!
The first morning was a chance for a gentle (or rather quicker than that for the Performance group) warm up, to find ski legs after the long summer break, working a number of the pistes around Meribel and Les Menuires. Special mention to Andy M. for his entry to the “Crash of The Week” award, just one hour into the first session. A high-sided double eject with 30m slide thrown in for bonus points! Always good to get the first one out of the way early in the week! Despite a couple of strong challenges from Jonathan later in the week Andy was to hang on to his award :-)
The first coaching session was a good opportunity to focus on key developments everyone wanted to make during the week, as well as getting to know class mates and coaches. Piste conditions were generally good, with firm, grippy snow on the upper slopes, deteriorating slightly to hardback and ice on the lower slopes, especially underneath snow cannons and on busy sections of the pistes. The weather was just about perfect, with great temperatures and unbroken sunshine. This was to continue for just about all of the week! Coaching sessions typically take place in the morning, running from about 9.15am through to 1.30pm or so, leaving plenty of time in the afternoons for free skiing. Unfortunately this proved to be the downfall of one of our number, with Mike making an early return home as a result of a broken collarbone from a high speed crash during the first afternoon. We missed you for the rest of the week Mike!
Day 2 saw the the continuation of our tour of the Trois Vallees, with two of the three coaching groups heading to Courchevel to take advantage of great snow conditions and good pistes for developing technique. The great weather continued, although the beginning of the day saw a little bit of high cloud. Cruex and Combe du Saulire pistes proved perfect training terrain, with very few people around and zero lift queues. It’s one of the best things about skiing in the opening week of the season!
A typical coaching session in this week is a mix of technical drills, practice time and individual feedback, followed by video feedback in the evening. We encourage free skiing in the afternoons to consolidate improvements during the coaching sessions, as well as providing a range of skiing experience, not to mention fun! We find this is the best approach to making lasting improvements to technical skills and the ability to apply them in a range of terrain and conditions.
Video feedback and analysis sessions after the day’s skiing has concluded.
Day 3 was an all-day coaching session, allowing the groups to travel further afield and providing an opportunity to spend more time working a particular skill set. Val Thorens was the destination, skiing some of the highest slopes in the Trois Vallees. Once again the weather was perfect, providing wonderful views of the scenery and the rare opportunity for al fresco coffee and lunch stops in the middle of December. Quite amazing conditions for this time of year.
Coffee stop at the Chalet de la Marine, Val Thorens.
Day 4 is a free skiing day for the coaching groups, and as usual it’s an opportunity for everyone to ski together and head to favourite terrain and mountain restaurants. Happily everyone returns in one piece for a big evening meal together as it’s the chalet staff night off. L’Arbe in Meribel Les Allues proves, once again, to be a favourite venue for dinner and drinks.
Day 5 sees a return to the coaching programme, and all the coaching groups repeat the journey to Courchevel for some of the best snow conditions. Once again the Cruex piste was a favourite, with so few people around it felt like it was exclusively reserved for Inside Out Skiing! Verdon was in perfect condition and great for developing carving skills, with the Biollay piste proving to be excellent for developing short radius turns.
Coffee stops are an important part of the coaching session, allowing caffeine levels to be topped up and a respite from the physical and mental challenges of the coaching. Not that the ski coaching is similar to torture sessions, but it is nice to take a little break every now and again. We like to keep things civilised!
Scott and Jojo’s groups taking a break. Rob’s coaching group topping up the caffeine levels.
Day 6, the final day of the course sees a return, once again, to Courchevel The weather continues to be glorious, the pistes virtually empty and the lift queues non-existent. The final coaching session is an opportunity to put lots of different things together, as well as have some fun with some synchro skiing and some high speed piste performance. It was nice to see the steady improvements during the week, culminating in some great skiing on the final day. It really was a splendid way to finish!
All in all it was perhaps our best Season Opener yet. Wonderful weather, good snow on piste, three really dynamic coaching groups putting in some great skiing and having loads of fun along the way. As coaches it was brilliant for us to see the progress made during the week, and a real pleasure to ski with a lovely bunch of guys. We were really pleased with the feedback we were given, and delighted to hear requests to reserve places on next year’s Season Opener. Can’t wait to ski with you again guys!
For more photos take a look at the slideshow of this wonderful week!