Season Opener 2010 - Great snow and Arctic temperatures in Meribel
After a brilliant pre-season trip to Tignes for the Inside Out Ski Club we had high hopes that our first week of the main winter season would be equally good. We were not to be disappointed! The week before Christmas is traditionally very quiet, and often good value with cheap accommodation and discounted lift passes. For this club trip we partnered with Ski Hame, an independent chalet operator based in Meribel Les Allues and Courchevel La Tania. Our 12 club members were based in the very lovely Chalet Grange a Charlotte in Meribel Les Allues. This offers seven lovely ensuite rooms, a spacious lounge and dining room plus a jacuzzi to soak away the aches of the day. Perfect! Chalet staff were extremely helpful, and ferried club members to and from the day's skiing in a couple of minibuses.
We ran three separate groups for coaching, so there was plenty of opportunity for individual attention and feedback. At the start of the week we had blue skies and cold temperatures, with relatively hard pistes. As the week went on, it got colder much, much colder with Arctic temperatures of -25°C and lower! We were all on alert for frostnip, and morning coffee breaks were appreciated as much for a chance to warm up as consume caffeine in various forms!
Everyone made good progress with their skiing, so it was a real pleasure providing feedback in the evening video analysis sessions which were sometimes conducted in the chalet and sometimes in a welcoming bar. One particularly enjoyable apres-ski session took place in the Lodge du Village in Meribel Village where local band Bring Your Sisters rocked the place for an hour or so. A great start to an enjoyable evening.
The coaching consisted of a mix of technical development using various ski drills and the like, plus lots of time, in and out of coaching sessions, to put new found talents to good practise. One of the groups opted for an all day coaching session, followed by a free day to ski together and explore the Trois Vallees domain more widely.
By mid-week the local rumours of incoming fresh snow were beginning to look like more than wishful thinking. The bitterly cold temperatures ensured the lightest, driest powder snow we've ever had in Europe, and after a day and a half of non-stop dumpage it was knee-deep all over and occasionally deeper in some sheltered spots. Even the gentle pistes and boot deep fresh on them, giving the perfect opportunity to try skiing in snow for the first time. What a way to start the winter! Everyone flung themselves in to the fresh snow with great gusto, quite literally at times, and the size of the smiles at the end of the day were a great measure of how much everyone had enjoyed themselves.
The final day of the week was the stuff of dreams: awesomely good snow, blue sky and a nearly empty resort. Not even the continued Arctic-like temperatures could cool down everyone's passion for the skiing that day. Fresh tracks were made on-piste and some gentle off-piste, and pisteurs had done a great job of returning the groomed snow to perfection.
It seemed to us that everyone had make very good progress with their skiing as the week concluded and with the final feedback session taking place over a few drinks it seemed a perfect way to set up the rest of the winter. Can't really ask for any more than that.
And for no other reason that it's good to finish with a photo of a big dog, here's a photo of the big dog which lives at the restaurant booked for the lunch on the final day. It was known to us as The Big Dog Restaurant although that's probably not its real name.
You can view the photo gallery here.
Photo slideshow of the week:
Photo credits: Rob Rees, Scott Pleva