47 students (including 6 year 12 girls from the High School) and 6 staff (Mr Webb, Mrs Gosling, Mr Gibson, Mrs Harvey, Mr Parish and Mr Elvidge), set off for Leeds-Bradford Airport early on Saturday 23rd March. How ironic then, that the annual ski trip was threatened by too much snow!
After experiencing the delights of LBA, with flight after flight being delayed and cancelled, we naturally worried that our flight would also be cancelled. We were due to fly to Geneva at 12.25 only to be told at about 15.30 that our flight was also cancelled. As you can imagine everyone was very disappointed. We then had to collect our luggage (which had been loaded onto the plane). We were then told that all flights from LBA were fully booked for the next 7 days. Trying to secure 53 places in the Easter holidays seemed to be a tall order! Our tour operator, Rayburn Tours tried to secure us a flight out of other airports, again to no avail. We spoke to the Jet2 duty manager who said he would see what he could do to help us. After a short while, we were offered places on a flight to Geneva on Monday, as they could upgrade the 12.25 flight from a 737 to a larger 757. It did not take us too long to make our mind up! Although we would miss 2 days skiing, we all agreed that 3 days was better than none. We arrived back at school late on Saturday Evening.
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We departed again on Monday 25th, with no hiccups this time and arrived in Sauze at 19.00. After sorting out the rooms, dinner and a meeting to go over the plans for the next day (and the usual dos and don’ts), we had an early night.
Brilliant blue skies and according to our Tour Rep for the week, James fantastic snow conditions. We had to get up early (7.00) as we had to go to the ski hire shop to get all our gear ie skis, poles, boots and helmets. We then took the ski bus to the chairlift, which took us to the Sportina ski area at 2000 metres. We met our instructors for the week and everyone was soon sorted into ski groups according to ability (after a ski off).
James was right, the snow conditions were brilliant. As we had lost 2 days skiing, we took up the option of an extra hour each day. Hence we skied from 9.30 until 13.00 and then from 14.00 until 16.30. In effect we ‘clawed back’ half a day. The advanced group and the intermediate group went straight to the higher and tougher ski runs, whilst the 2 beginner groups remained on the ‘nursery’ slope. After lunch one of the beginner groups took the chairlift to 2500 metres and began skiing some of the long blue runs.
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We returned to the hotel at 17.00 and had ‘free-time’ (students that is!) until dinner. As a result of the 2 day delay, our Apres ski plans had been badly affected. Many of the party were really tired and most were in their rooms by 22.00. A hardy group of 16 and 4 staff (and James) went to a local bar to watch the England v Montenegro World Cup Qualifier. I’m not sure whether it was the dire quality of the football, or the 6 hours skiing which was the reason for most of those watching falling asleep early in the second half! I do believe that Mr Parish was snoring for most of the second half.
Another wonderful day. Not a cloud in sight. 3 groups went straight up to 2500 metres and began skiing the more challenging runs. The 4th group soon joined them. We all had 6 hours of wonderful skiing and everyone was making excellent progress.
After dinner we went to the local games room. Many played pool, table football or table tennis, whilst others began collecting tokens from the various arcade games. After collecting hundreds (and in some cases even thousands) of tokens, they were exchanged for some truly terrible prizes! The staff were particularly amazed that the ‘Golden Aardvark (or was it an Anteater!), a plastic ornament sat upon an equally undesirable black plinth, proved to be a popular choice at 600 tokens!!
As James had predicted, heavy snow and low cloud greeted us when we woke up. Today was going to be cold! We had planned for the advanced and intermediate groups to have a ski away day to the adjoining resort of Sestriere, where they could ski the 2006 Olympic mens downhill run. However the instructors decided that this was not possible given the weather conditions. Despite the snow and low cloud, we had 6 hours of great skiing at Sauze.
It was decided by the Ski School that the top 2 groups were easily able to ski down to the village at the end of the day via some challenging red runs. The other 2 groups would descend on the chairlift. However, such was the progress made by the 2 beginner groups, the instructors decided that they too could ski down to the village. James our rep was amazed that they could do this after only 3 days.
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After returning our ski gear to the shop the instructors came to the hotel to present certificates and badges to everyone. After dinner, most of the party went to the local sports centre to play 5 a-side football. The highlight of the evening was a very short game between 3 of the male staff and James versus the female staff and 6th form girls ie 4 against 8! This was meant to be non-contact, friendly game, though I don’t think the female team realised this. However, class finally showed in the end when Mr Gibson thundered in a superb volley to secure a 1-0 victory. The male team celebrated as if they had won the FA Cup!
We then returned to the hotel and had a short awards ceremony for the students from the staff. We gave certificates to about 18 students eg most dramatic fall, most improved skiers, bravest skier, effort awards, trendiest skier etc.
After packing and a room check it was early to bed as we had to be up at 5.30 am on Friday. The hotel provided breakfast for us all before our 7.00 departure for Geneva airport. We arrived back at school mid- afternoon.
In spite of the 2 day loss of skiing, this was another very successful trip. We were blessed with truly fantastic snow conditions. With the help of pristine pistes and great instruction, everyone made brilliant progress. The advanced group skied fast and furious for 3 days and Alex the instructor was delighted with them. They looked and skied like proper skiers. The intermediate skiers were in effect a ‘lower advanced’ group, such was their prowess. Mr Parish and Mrs Harvey particularly enjoyed skiing with the intermediates for most of the 3 days. The 2 beginner groups also made fantastic progress. If any of them come on the next ski trip, they should go straight into the intermediate group(s). It was a pity for the beginners in particular that they lost 2 days skiing, as having learnt the basics in the first 3 days, they would have improved so much on what would have been days 4 and 5.
As always the staff where impressed with the attitude and behaviour of the students, particularly on the Saturday when we had to return home. We were delighted to receive many compliments eg from other passengers and staff at LBA, especially on the Saturday. The instructors, James and the Hotel staff also complimented the students.
A special mention must also go to my colleagues who worked hard to ensure everyone was safe, well and had an enjoyable time. Helping supervise and run a ski trip is an enormous responsibility, undertaken in their own Easter holiday. Without the support of the staff, ski trips could not happen.
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In 2012 we skied for 5 days at Sauze on some of the poorest pistes ever. This year, whilst we only had 3 days skiing, the 6 staff and the 7 students who came on the 2012 trip all agreed that the skiing was so much better and much more enjoyable.
In 2014, the Easter holidays does not begin until April 11th. As a result many of the ski resorts may well be short of snow. We have yet to decide if it worth booking a ski trip. We will consider higher resorts, where there is a better guarantee of snow so late in the season. If we do decide to organise a trip in 2014, information will go out in the next couple of months. Places will be limited to 46 students (with priority being given to those in Years 8 and older). All places on the trip are subject to an appropriate effort and behaviour record. As a result, we reward students who make a positive contribution to the school.