Usually, in December, the slopes of Espace Killy bristle with pistachio jackets for a fortnight as several dozen ski- and snowboard-mad candidates undergo the annual induction that is the Ski Club of Great Britain reps’ course. This month, however, they are absent. Instead, locals in France’s premier early-season venue are watching with curiosity the arrival of a seemingly new group. Clad in bright blue, with dark trousers, they look rather swish, and they appear to be British. Could they be…? Surely not! Why, yes, a closer look reveals that this is indeed the new Ski Club uniform – as allocated to the 2010 intake of would-be leaders (formerly known as reps).
I have the good fortune to be here. There are around 40 of us, aged 21 to 60, and we girls are outnumbered to the tune of 3:1. Among our number are a policeman, an ice-skating coach, a pilot, a cameraman, an optician, a couple of students, a decent Scottish contingent and a handful of “adult gappers”. It’s amazing who turns up, actually: I am convinced I recognise one face from an internet dating site. Among our mentors are BASI instructors Gareth Roberts, Phil Smith and Andy Jerome, leadership guru Kyle Newman and SCGB’s own Simon Henwood.
Together we have piled into the lovely Hotel Levanna in Tignes Lac, where all of us – with the help of sensible name tags at meetings and mealtimes – are relishing making new friends, getting out on the slopes and discovering how to become top-class leaders. Two days in, we already have a local: most of us have crossed the threshold of the Alpaca bar, and at 3 Euros for a wine or beer, this looks to be the favourite.
I’ll leave you, for now, with an update on conditions: upper pistes beautifully powdery, turning firmer towards the village. Off-piste variable with high avalanche risk following a foot of fresh snow and a stiff wind.
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