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Greetings again from Wanaka where this weekend just past brought 30cm of fresh snow to the top of the mountain, which is just the way we like it.  But back to the start of last week, our third down here in New Zealand.…

Just about everyone had a day off last Saturday after a big week of training.  And with Kate’s birthday coming up on the Monday, it seemed a good idea to go out and celebrate.  A few entered the curling competition at the Bullock Bar but – somewhat surprisingly – no one made it through to the finals.  While NZ is home to the only curling rink in the southern hemisphere, it certainly ain’t at Bullock Bar, Wanaka!  The photos will reveal the improvised conditions – a long strip of plastic, heaps of water to make the “rock” (if not the competitors) slide and the poor sweeper on the end of a cheap floor mop!  Still, the spirit was nigh on Olympic anyway, even if the equipment and style weren’t.  Sunday saw a few head up the hill but most had an easy day and a yummy roast chicken dinner at Bullock Bar before hitting the sack early, ready to do it all over again.

Week 3 of training started without any new snow – just rumours circulating it was on its way.  The skier groups were mixed around a little on what was a slow day with lots of practice teaching and drills.  Still, it’s got to be done.  Our dear caterers, Max and Brent, returned from their holiday in Bali and resumed their rightful place in charge of the kitchen.  Their first meal for the group was yumbo roast beef with lots of veggies, after which the skiers headed to Mt Aspiring College for their first classroom session.  That night it started to rain in Wanaka which meant…..

10-15cm of freshies waiting for us up on the mountain on Tuesday on what was the first powder day for the group.   While visibility was poor in the morning, it cleared in the afternoon and everyone had a great day.  New techniques were taught to help the group get the most out of the different – and divine! – conditions.  Some went out for a beer afterwards to celebrate the experience but most took their well-worked muscles to bed early.

Most of the new snow had been tracked out the next day. With no Skool on Wednesdays, the freestyle skiers started their course early in the day to make the most of what was left in the off-piste chutes.  Welcome to first grade!  There were some epic falls but most did a good job and had a great morning.  The freestyle boarders worked on their bumps and drops around the mountain while some hit the park for a bit of fun. Dinner was delivered to the apartments, followed by a night in watching DVDs for most of the group.

It was back to Skool on Thursday under sunny and clear skies.  The pressure of the looming Level 1 exams was starting to mount so time was put into perfecting those drills.  Friday was a bit different for some who were given the chance to do lap training.  This involves doing the same section of the mountain one by one, over and over again, all under the watchful eye of the trainers.  With individual feedback given each run, most enjoy this approach as they can improve on the same run each and every time.

Friday brought with it the first “Jug Fine Friday” for the boarders at Mint Bar.  Rules are you have to buy a jug of beer for each mistake or fall on the mountain during training.  Some of the guys had to buy a LOT of jugs – Kirk and Fiona had an expensive evening with 7 and 5 jugs respectively but luckily, a discount is offered.  Although the skiers don’t partake in the game, they also came along and the group had a great night in Mint and HQ before some finished at Opium. We hope Greg wasn’t too cold in his kilt – rumour had it he went commando but thankfully, there’s not a shred of real evidence to confirm it!

Check out some more photos HERE – and we thank Kirk for sharing some of his pics with us.

That’s the week that was in Wanaka.  This coming week is the last one of training before the Level 1 exams, so we’ll be working hard in preparation.


Kiaora from the Land of the Long White Cloud!

The group over in New Zealand is settling in well to their way of life, including the demanding training regime.  Our routine is well established after this second week in which we’ve had a mixed bag of weather plus a few aches, pains and sniffles – all right on schedule for a course such as this!

Last Saturday was the first day anyone took off from skiing or riding. The first week of training finally took its toll – as no doubt did the first really big night out on the town on Friday!  There were a few sore heads on what was yet another beautiful bluebird day that saw some head up to Cardrona, some explore the town and some visit the local cinema, which is a real experience.  Cinema Paradiso seats about 80 people, all on old two and three-seater couches.  There’s even a VW Bug for a group of four but take our advice – the car looks way better at first glance than it feels some time into a long movie.  You can pre-order a snack for intermission (they just stop screening the movie about half way through, whenever it seems a reasonable point to have a bit of a break) and you head out to collect your freshly-prepared meal, a glass of wine/beer, some munchies, and consume it all back on your couch during the second half of the movie.  All cinemas should be like Wanaka Paradiso!  That Saturday evening most watched the All Blacks play (and defeat) the Springboks at rugby but a few were starting to develop colds and sniffles and headed in for an early night.  The change in country and climate inevitably brings this on – all are looking after themselves and are now on the mend.

The great weather continued on Sunday and several students headed up the mountain to practise what they learned during the week. Kirk collected the campervan purchased for his travels after the course while others stayed around town.  Vikki and Marcus were able to move from the hostel into their apartment here with us at Belvedere.  It hadn’t been available earlier because of the influx of Kiwi and Australian tourists during the school holidays so it was great to welcome them into the fold – especially seeing they invited us all around for pre-dinner drinks!  They set the scene nicely with home-made salsa and guacamole in advance of everyone continuing the Mexican theme with dinner at Amigos restaurant.  Most headed home for an early night, in preparation for the new week of Skool.

Monday was cold and windy with flat light making skiing and riding quite challenging.  Everyone made it up the mountain and the new week saw most groups starting to learn how to teach.  Olly had to finish early for the day due to his cold/flu symptoms and then Dan fell and hurt his back so went to rest up with Olly in the bus.  We went straight from Cardrona to The Venue for dinner on the way home, where we had ever-popular lasagne and carrot cake and then…..

FRESHIES!!!!  It finally snowed overnight and continued into Tuesday morning.  Snow chains were needed for the first time on the long and winding road up to Cardrona and everyone was eager to get first tracks for the first time this season.  Most groups went straight out to enjoy the powder but some had to stay on the beginners’ slope to do their first “practise teach”.

There’s no Skool on Wednesdays but most boarders and a few skiers had signed up for the freestyle course.  Classes run 11.00am-2.00pm so there’s plenty of time for those all-important warm-up runs.  On what was another clear sunny day, the boarders worked together on park progression all over the hill before splitting into two groups.  The skiers’ free-riding focused mainly on backcountry skiing.  All enjoyed the day and learnt some cool new tricks in the park which led to a quiet night, resting the muscles and nursing a few bruises.

Thursday was another sunny day with some black clouds looming.  It was good to have Dan back on the mountain for what was a top day on the hill.  Training was split between more practice teaching, going back to basics and perfecting those demos.  Some enjoyed a few early beers in HQ that evening but nothing too crazy as it was a Skool night.

Those dark clouds delivered only 1cm of fresh snow with terrible vis all day Friday.  In response to this, the trainers didn’t venture too far from base – they took the students into the classroom and then spent more time practice teaching on the beginner slopes.  The end of the second week saw a big night out with all students going wild on the dance floor at HQ and enjoying late drinks at Mint Bar.

If you’d like to get a glimpse of what we’ve been up to, check out all of the photos HERE

All up, things are going along nicely. The group has settled in and is enjoying the training as well as the socialising.  They are working hard attending class and practicing their new skills. Definitely an impressive start.

That’s about it from beautiful Wanaka for another week.

All the best