Season Opener 2009 - Inaugural trip to Solden

This was the first coaching week in the Alps for the new ski club: Inside Out Skiing. We teach clients in the UK at The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead, and run coaching holidays to a number of resorts in the Alps. This, our first week, was to the Austrian resort of Sölden. It was a relatively last minute decision to run a coaching week this early in the season, but Sölden has a good reputation for early snow and we wanted to get a feel for the resort before the main part of the season started. As it happened we were to be blessed with great snow so there was no need to rely on the excellent glaciated terrain for access to good teaching slopes.

Including myself and Scott, my fellow director of the company, our students and some friends we had a group of nine for most of the week. The students were all good skiers so we had to work hard to keep challenging them as the week went on, doing a mix of on-piste performance and off-piste development. We had two very snowy days, on top of the previous week’s heavy snowfalls, plus regular top ups towards the end of the week. It’s difficult to think of anything to complain about for such great snow, so early in the season!

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A typical day was to meet at the bottom gondola station at 9am for a coaching session through until 11.30am, pausing for coffee and some video feedback from that morning’s skiing. Everyone skied at a reasonably similar, and pretty high, standard, so there was no need to split the group into two. This meant team teaching from me and Scott, with as much feedback and individual attention as we could offer.

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After the break we’d continue teaching until 1.30pm or so, stopping for lunch in one of the very impressive mountain restaurants that the resorts offers. As we weren’t running afternoon sessions we would mostly just free ski, stepping up the pace from the morning, looking for the best snow we could find (always with great success!). Even when the weather was bad, the skiing was superb!

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On Thursday we travelled to the top end of the resort to sample the slopes available on the glacier. This is brilliant terrain, with wide, long slopes ranging from gentle blues to fearsomely steep black pistes (the opening race of the World Cup ski circuit is held here each October). We had a great day’s teaching, running through many drills working on balance, coordination and timing.

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All in all Sölden is a very impressive resort. There’s a great range of terrain, including some fabulous slopes for teaching on, high altitude so snow-sure and a modern lift system which moves you around pretty quickly.

There’s also an extremely impressive range of apres-ski destinations, from upscale restaurants, quiet and cosy bars and some extremely raucous clubs! After last week’s celebrations I was determined to take it easy this week and not overdo the evening’s entertainment - sadly that determination failed me on a couple of nights and rather too many silly drinks were consumed. One tip: never drink Zombie shots - it’s just not a sensible thing to do. Apologies for the following photos which were taken by phone in the dark, but they give a flavour of the apres...

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Can’t wait to get back to the resort for our next coaching week on 16th January. Spaces available on our courses that week, so book up now... ;-)

You can view the photo gallery here.

Photo credits: Rob Rees, Sue Sessions, Mark Woods, Ray Collins, Corin Huke