George King, our newest member of the Ski Famille team, recently broke the trend and became our first snowboarder in the office with a trip to Les Gets! George stayed in our fantastic Chalet Le Marjorie. Read on to see how he got on.
So being the ‘newbie’ at Ski Famille I thought it was time to break the mould slightly and become the first snowboarder in the office. As a keen skateboarder I had been convinced by friends that I would take to snowboarding with ease – I mean it can’t be that different apart from that you’re not actually strapped onto a skateboard! My old school friends and I used to take the wheels off our skateboards, attaching our feet to the deck of the board with the inner tube taken from a BMX bike and sort of slide down hills. There had to be some logic behind my comparison…
I decided to go to Les Gets for the same reason I give to many of our guests who are thinking of travelling with us. It’s a great beginners resort and although I was fairly confident that my skateboarding skills would be transferable (eek!), I didn’t want to stitch myself up by being too over confident before starting out. I had chosen to stay in Chalet Le Marjorie as it is one of my favourite Ski Famille properties and its location in Les Gets village is fantastic. As a sociable person that really likes a chat with the guests, I also opted for one of our larger chalets meaning I got the chance to meet a few more people. There were a couple of snowboarders in Le Marjorie on the week I went, so I was given a few words of advice around the dining table the first evening whilst eating my piping hot Beef Daube cooked by the awesome Chalet Chef, Ben. I took it very easy on the wine though as the last thing I needed on my first morning of snowboarding was a hangover… and the last thing my instructor needed was me on a hangover!
Following a great night’s sleep in the Chalet, I headed to the local ski hire shop Desire where the friendly staff there gave me a pick of some of the boards. I then went for a quick espresso at Bellevue and, having filled myself up on croissants beforehand at the chalet, I was then ready and raring to go! I started my day off with a 2 hour group lesson meaning I was learning with other people which allowed me to make a few like-minded friends. Anyway, you know the whole skateboarding comparison thing? Yeah that… absolute rubbish! I was probably the last person in the group able to stand on their board! Getting off and on the lift was a challenging task in itself and even just pushing myself around when moving about on the flat, was some of the best exercise I have had in a while! Although the start was a bit shaky I actually found myself balancing very well by the end of my first lesson and more importantly I had learnt a lot about the basics of snowboarding. I may not have been side slipping at all yet but at least I understood the theory behind it and the importance of understanding what ‘the fall line’ was.
I had made sure I was really prepared for my first snowboarding trip and had booked in additional private lessons for 2pm on each day to advance myself a little after each morning group lesson. I also gave myself an hour and a half in between lessons to fit in some much need energy food! Throughout the week I ate at a couple of places but even just walking around the resort I noticed that there really is something for all tastes and budgets – I highly recommend the pizzeria opposite the 360 International office which I did treat myself to on one of the days! The rest of the week I was quite happy to settle for a 6 Euro big meaty cheeseburger from the 412 shack in the village. For me, lunchtime was a period I could use to re energise myself rather than an occasion or opportunity to try and eat somewhere new every day, after all I had my delicious 3 course meal to look forward to every night back at the chalet!
The private lessons themselves really benefitted me. It was nice to have that one on one time in addition to the group situation where it’s a bit more social. I had an ex Olympic snowboarder teaching me and she was brilliant! We would discuss where I was with my group lessons and then she basically just picked up from where I had left off. By the end of my first private lesson I was snowboarding down a blue run with ease as I had mastered side slipping on my heel edge. That’s what I loved about Snowboarding, although the basics are tricky to nail, once you have it is a really fast moving process from then on and you find yourself flying down the piste to the extent that you forget you’re still just a beginner and have a lot more to learn!
I won’t go into detailing each lesson throughout the week because a lot of time spent by a beginner snowboarder is falling over your bum. However, falling on your bum is all part of the learning process and those times when you’re not falling over I have to say are pretty mind blowing. I have only snowboarded for less than a week and I am already able to sideslip on both my heel and toe side and just about link a full turn – Which I would like to think is quite good going!
Overall my first experience of snowboarding was one to remember and although I spent most of my week just practicing on the red run next to La Grande Ourse, I have definitely been converted! I have already starting planning a long weekend for January next year as well as a week in March when my girlfriend is going to give Snowboarding a whirl too ( YAY! ). The vast majority of our Ski Famille guests are skiers and for very good reason, but I just wanted to share my recent experience with you in case any dedicated skiers out there fancied escaping their comfort zone.
Two very important words of advice though… Bum pads!
Written by George King