Italian Food & Fun, San Cassiano, March 2012

It's March 2012 so it's time for Inside Out to return to San Cassiano in the Dolomites for our Italian Food & Fun coaching holiday. This is a little different from our other alpine coaching trips as the wonderful piste domain, amazing scenery and astonishingly good mountain restaurants mean we mix up a bit more touring around the pistes in addition to our usual focus on technical development.

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This year's trip is a sell-out, with a total group of 21 people based, once again, at the Albergo Frohsinn. This hotel offers perhaps one of the best locations in the Dolomites for skiing. At the intersection of a red and blue piste, it offers true ski-in, ski-out accommodation. It's only 60m from the main gondola out of San Cassiano, sits next to the main nightlife spot in town and is just a 10 minutes stroll to the village centre. You really couldn't wish for a better location! As last year the food is very good for a value-range hotel, and the hotel staff look after us well (and help us to celebrate the three birthdays we have during the week.

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The first day sees a moderate fall of fresh snow, continuing Inside Out's tradition of at least some fresh snow on every trip it's had to the mountains. An enviable record which we hope will continue! The snow helped to freshen the pistes a little, but in general we didn't see the ski domain at its best because of unseasonably high temperatures in the three weeks prior to us arriving meant a thin snow base. This didn't, however, mean a lack of skiing opportunities: the Dolomites' pisteurs are wonderfully skilled at maintaining their pistes in tip-top condition even when there is less snow than usual. So all week we had good piste conditions, ranging from firm and grippy in the morning, to soft, slushy bumps in the afternoons. Good training snow, and lots of fun for touring around.


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Everyone was divided in to three groups, so no more than seven per coach meant lots of fun as well as plenty of individual feedback. Each day we selected a different restaurant to finish the morning coaching sessions and begin the afternoon session. This allowed us to indulge in the local cuisine, which is a mix of Italian and Austrian, at prices which everyone felt were great value for money. As some of these photos show, we ranged far and wide to find the best lunches on the hill. It's difficult to pick out the highlights, but the local mixed grill at the Scotoni Hütte in the Hidden Valley and the Nevada steak at Punta Trieste would be difficult to beat in any location never mind the splendour of the Dolomites. Other unique experiences for some of us were the drive up the hill by piste-basher for our evening mean in one of the mountain restaurants, and the horse-drawn drag lift to exit the Hidden Valley.

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But it's not (just) about the food! The coaching formed the focus of five days, with four half day sessions and one full-day session. This gave each group one full free day to tour more widely, with most people opting for a lap around the Sella Ronda.

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While working on technical skills we passed through the Hidden Valley, Cinque Torres, Col Galena, La Villa, Santa Croce and local slopes around San Cassiano. Each group worked on developing new skills or refining and improving existing skills. It was terrific to see some people change bad habits which had taken years to acquire, in just one week of coaching. Truly great work guys!

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Each day we were blessed with wonderfully sunny weather and warm spring-skiing temperatures. This mean the sundowner drinks at the wonderfully named Las Vegas restaurant were of the cold and refreshing variety. We've never seen so much Prosecco consumed in one week before! By the end of the week it felt like we were locals at the Vegas, and were treated to shots of Grappa by our entertaining hosts.

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By the end of the week ski skills had been improved, scenery had been admired, food & drink had been enjoyed and new friends had been made. A rather brilliant way to round out the season! But for those people who flew via Marco Polo airport there was a bonus day in Venice on the way home. In the warm spring sunshine we enjoyed wandering around this most amazing city.

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So all in all a wonderful week. Here's to the next one...

You can see a wider range of photos at our gallery page, and see a slideshow of the week’s fun by visiting our Vimeo channel.