Greetings from Wanaka!

Week One done… P-h-h-h-e-www!!!  course is a very hectic time for students and staff alike and the weekend break is always heralded in with a large slice of relief, washed down by a couple of pints of the local brew!

We are a fun and eclectic group hailing not only from the UK (including 7 Scots!) but also from Hong Kong, Oman, France, Canada and Australia.

A quick recap – everyone arrived in surprisingly good shape on the Saturday night having travelled over 19000km in just over 35 hours. All were on deck by 10.00am on the Sunday to head into town to stock up the pantry and sort out snow equipment. That evening the group went to the course briefing session from the Cardrona ITC (Intensive Training Centre) which gave us all a chance to meet the instructors and get even more excited about hitting the slopes.  After an early group dinner at Mike’s Barbeque, everyone hit the sack early to be ready for the first day of training. Monday dawned a perfectly clear bluebird day with a light dusting of fresh powder. Perfect!  Everyone was up nice and early and on the bus on time – it’s a steep, twisting road up to Cardona, which can take some time after snowfall.  Day One on the slopes was mostly about getting to know the instructors and orientating oneself around the hill.

After that first day of training, we stopped for dinner on the way back from Cardrona.  Each Monday, we will call into The Venue where our friendly local caterers, Brent and Maxine, provide a sit-down meal for our group.  This week, the students were briefed on course etiquette and expectations and all seemed to respond well, especially to the notion of “Going Kiwi” – they are such nice people around here, it’s well worthwhile letting their delightful approach to life brush off!  Three other nights, Brent and Maxine will deliver food to the apartments while on Sunday, we’ll head out to a local eatery.

On Tuesday night the whole SnowSkool group headed to town to celebrate the 21st birthday of James Howell. After a few drinks at HQ, THE local, with the Cardrona instructors, we all hit up the Mint Bar for a late-night boogie. Rumour has it the party then continued on back at the apartments but SnowSkool staff cannot confirm or deny this as we were all tucked up in bed, cautious as we were about turning into pumpkins!

The week continued with everyone settling into the routine – the days start early, the skiing / riding is tough and the instructors push hard but this ensures the best on-snow development. Already many report a dramatic improvement in their own skiing / riding but they have been warned it’s sometimes a matter of two steps forward and one step back for a while, and then it all seems to just click.  The guys and girls get back to the apartments at 5.00pm and dinner is normally taken between 5.30 and 6.00pm. Because the apartments are all next door to each other, the group social life is very active even if it is nothing more than listening to a CD while discussing the day’s skiing / riding.  Some have enrolled for optional extra freestyle training on Wednesdays but most are using this free day to hone the skills learned the previous week.

FYI, I am the course host, Jamie Jones. I am from London and completed the Level 2 instructor training in Canada with SnowSkool last year.  I headed back to Big White earlier this year to help out with the hosting there, so this is my fourth snow season in two years!  I go up the mountain with the group most days and ride with each class (skiers and boarders alike), observing how they’re going and getting valuable feedback from their instructors.  Company founder, Phil Purdie, stayed in town with us for week.  You can’t keep a good Scot down – we all enjoyed Phil’s energy, experience, good humour…and big hair!  He left us last Saturday to return to the UK via SnowSkool’s Sydney office.

Check out the full photo album from week one here

Jamie

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