The last few days in Verbier were an absolute blast.
Thursday evening I headed down to the meeting room to do some more Smash Ski Training. Ben McBride was kicking around and joined in for a few of the exercises. He found them very useful and relevant to his skiing, easily able to see the relevance and cross-over to improving his on-snow performance. He and Jon West are looking forward to more training in March.
Thursday night saw a big dumping of snow, which continued for much of Friday. As a result of that, the mountain was only open up to the mid-station, the rest of the resort staying closed for avalanche clearance and high winds. But that meant a lot of the snow was still fresh for Saturday, which greeted us with clear blue skies!
Lord Hans of Belgium had proclaimed a Four Valley Tour on Saturday, so with Moray in the lead we headed off on an adventure. Tortin was choppy by 10.30, with the powder hounds having already done several laps and now eating up Col Des Mouches. There were a few tumbles on the way down in the powder and Jerome looked like a snowman by the time we got to the bottom! Heading onto the cat-track, I took a side cut for some more powder and a little bit of air. A few seconds hang-time led to a stomped landing, before I realised my skis were no longer attached! A superman flight ended in a classic ostrich moment and I came up with a mouthful of snow and a promise to adjust my Din settings before trying to stomp landings in powder again!
We headed over to Veysonnaz, with Moray ploughing new valleys into the Alps with his indomitable style. A speedy run down the Women’s Super-G course was the perfect preparation for a classic Valaisan lunch of venison served with an Ardoise hot stone to cook my meat to perfection! The clouds came in over lunch so we stuck to the pistes on the way back, but it gave me a great opportunity to work on some technique with Coach Moray.
My turn initiation, hip projection and early edging were great, but I was finishing my turn too early and pushing through the final part of the turn, rather than relaxing to absorb the force. Moray suggested making the turn more progressive: continuing to turn my legs to allow my skis to come back under me, and allowing my legs to soften to the force coming back up as I re-centred over my skis. Then, as soon as the turn is complete and I’m in balance again, to start extending laterally with my now up-hill ski to start the new turn, whilst pole-planting and projecting my hips down the fall line.
This made the turn much more relaxed and controlled, whilst easily contributing to a sense of flow and rhythm. Underfoot, I really got the feeling of the force going through my forefoot as I initiated the turn, then moving into my mid-foot and almost my heel through the mid-point of the turn. Then, as my skis came back underneath me and I allowed my legs to soften, I could feel the force moving back towards the front of my foot, ready for the initiation of the next turn.
This feeling through the sole of my foot added an extra layer of proprioception and feedback to my skiing. It is also exactly what we looked at during the Canadian Instructors’ Course, so it was great to attain the same feeling by approaching my turn in a different way under Moray’s guidance.
By the time we got back to Verbier, the International Group were knackered. Some even took the lift down for the last few sections! We dropped the skis of and headed into town for Apres. Whilst the Belgians headed to Farinet, I watched the 6 Nations in T-Bar. As England put in and unconvincing display, I reflected on how many people revealed themselves to be fair-weather Irish descendants!
Farinet was awesome. The Swedish band on stage were on their 15th Verbier tour, and put in an excellent rendition of The Killers’ “Human.” Beer was thrown around, boobies were flashed and stage dives met with face-plants to the floor. So a standard Farinet Apres Ski! A few Jagerbombs with Roland Sommer and it was time to leave. We headed back to the chalet for a confusingly high-quality meal of foie-gras, scallops and calves’ liver. But I had taken an early nap by the end of the first starter!
The next morning was rushed-bag packing and last-minute admin to get the chalet ready for the guests arriving that evening. It had been the perfect end to a great week in Verbier: good skiing, fresh snow, awesome Apres and very positive feedback on the Smash Ski Training. Now I just can’t wait till Easter!