By Richard Liddle, Author and Creator of Monty the Marmot.
“This year’s family ski holiday was going to be our most anticipated yet!”
Not only because our daughter (aged 5) was in her third week of ski school and ready to take on her first full blue run and chair lift with me, but also because our youngest (aged 3) was about to embark on his first experience on real skis. I was obviously very excited to have both of them on the slopes and enjoying the mountains as a family.
Putting children into a ski school environment is always going to be a challenge: it’s cold; they don’t know where they are and what they are going to do; and, more importantly, they are split into different groups, depending on their age and ability, away from their friends and family. Eeeek!
Back in 2009, when I found out that I was going to be a dad for the first time, I started the preparation for this very moment. Along with buying our first ‘family’ car, converting the spare room into a nursery and thinking up possible names for both boys and girls, my sights were firmly set on how I was going to get our new baby onto skis!
I had qualified as a BASI ski instructor a few years previously and was accumulating quite a bit of experience teaching people to ski while waiting for the impending birth. This experience included getting young children onto the slope for the first time too, and I was very aware of how nerve racking it was for most of them (and their parents) to be taken out into the cold for the 45 minutes I was allocated to help them start to learn about this fantastic sport.
Like many people, I had a fear that my children just wouldn’t get it and feel the enjoyment of the sport as I had as a teenager on my first ski lesson at Harrogate Ski Slope – run at the time by Martin and Graham Bell’s parents… Happy days!
I needed to do some pre-ski school prep on them, but looking in many bookshops and online for suitable ski-related reading material, I found that there just wasn’t anything that could properly get across to my children the wonderful world of the winter holiday. This is why I decided to do something about it myself.
As an architectural illustrator and part-time ski instructor, I got to work on my own children’s picture book that would use my skills and experience. A book I could easily read to my children and, 3 years later, I finally finished and published ‘Monty Goes Skiing’.
As parents, we have been reading about Monty to both our children since they were old enough to enjoy the story, and I would say that it has definitely helped get them out and onto the slopes. My initial fears about them not enjoying the sport have slowly been replaced by a real confidence that we will have many happy years ahead of us skiing (and boarding) as a family. We all love the great outdoors and I cannot imagine a ski season that doesn’t involve us being away and enjoying the snow… or a cheese fondue… or a mid-morning hot chocolate break in a mountain restaurant.
It’s brilliant to have my character ‘Monty The Marmot’ team up with a fantastic ski holiday company like Ski Famille. Like most instructors, I really love getting people enthused about the sport and if something I’ve created can help other families all over the Alps, then I am delighted to have Monty help show everyone how great it is to ski!
So finally, if I was to pass on one piece of advice to anyone about to embark on their first experience in ski school, either as an adult or as a child, that would be to keep properly wrapped up. No matter how good your ski instructor might be, they won’t be able to teach you anything if you are struggling to keep yourself warm.
Happy skiing everyone!