Last month pupils and seven members of staff departed on Antrim Grammar School’s ski trip to Les Menuires in the French Alps.
Les Menuires is part of the 3 Valleys ski region, the largest ski area in the world.
A mid-morning arrival into Geneva airport was followed by a two hour coach transfer to Les Menuires and base for the week, the superbly-run Hotel Piolet.
The next morning we made our way to the slopes to meet our instructors from the École Du Ski Français (ESF) or the French Ski Schools. Based upon the pupils’ skill level and previous ski experience, they were divided into 5 groups, each with an instructor: thus we had “Team Hugo”, “Team Tony”, “Team Natalie”, “Team India”, and “Team Sandra”. The first day consisted of the instructors running through basic skills, culminating in a test on a nursery slope to see if we could stop safely by using the “snowplough” technique.
Each day thereafter consisted of a morning lesson from 9.30am-11.30am - with a break for lunch - and an afternoon lesson from 1.30pm-3.30pm. We were fortunate in having a “ski-in” / “ski-out” hotel, which allowed us to ski directly to and from the piste.
Everyone – no matter what their skill level – worked hard with their instructors through the week and all improved. The Alpine air was fresh, our heads were clear, and the views around the Three Valleys were sublime.
By Wednesday, all the groups were ready to tackle a more challenging blue run, which only three days earlier had looked all but impossible to many. A gondola ascent of over 1000m took them towards the summit of Pont de la Masse. Emerging in near white-out conditions due to the force of the snow, the pupils showed great determination in negotiating the run safely.
Towards the end of the week, our instructors gave us tests appropriate to what we had learned during the week and it was great to see that all the pupils achieved at least the ‘Class 1’ ski level with a healthy number graded at ‘Class 2’. Thanks must go to our five instructors for their unending patience and good rapport with their young charges.
‘Educating for life’ is something that Antrim Grammar School promotes and it was clear that the pupils had gained tremendous life skills from the trip.