Pre-Season Tune-Up 2011 - Ice, snow & perfect weather in Tignes

Mid-October sees the first ski trip of 2011-12 for Inside Out Skiing. At least we think it does, but nobody is exactly certain when the ski season starts and when it ends. It’s an ongoing dilemma if you have ski trips to the mountains all year round!

The Grand Motte glacier at Tignes, perfect for pre-season ski coaching with Inside Out Skiing

A few days before we arrived in Tignes there had been a good fall of fresh snow, all the way down to resort level. This is a good sign to help freshen up conditions on the glacier even if we know that down in the resort snow this early never lasts more than a couple of days. Despite this conditions on the glacier are pretty challenging for the first group who are with us for the weekend. There’s a thin layer of snow, but as the day goes on this gets scrapped away exposing the glacier ice underneath.

Skiing on the glacier at TignesPre-season ski coaching in Tignes with Inside Out Skiing Pre-season ski coaching in Tignes with Inside Out Skiing Pre-season ski coaching in Tignes with Inside Out Skiing

If you’ve never skied on a glacier before you really don't know what skiing on ice is all about! It takes a bit of getting used to, but after some trial and error it becomes clear that the best way to ski it is not to do anything different, but do everything you normally do but just much better! So make good movements to help steer your skis, create lots of early pressure when you turn, make smooth, round turns, plan ahead so you know where and when you want to make your turns. These are all things that good skiers do consistently, so we eventually concluded that the tough skiing conditions simply demanded we ski well rather than differently.

Developing great skills for skiing on ice, with Inside Out Skiing

As well as tricky snow we also had perfect weather and generally quiet pre-season conditions, so the weekend crew made the most of conditions and really raised their game. With coaching from 9.00am until lunch, then a bit of free-skiing afterwards, there was lots of time to make good progress and by the end of the trip the first group had made great strides forward in their technique and with their confidence to ski hard-packed snow. Top marks all-round!

Back at the hotel we had the usual mix of video analysis, making sure we have a great mental image of how we are skiing and the changes we would like to make. This is a powerful coaching tool, and everyone gets a great deal of benefit from the video we take of each coaching session. It's pretty civilised to be able to do this in the comfort of the hotel's bar with a beer in hand!

Video analysis for ski coaching with Inside Out Skiing

There's also the opportunity to play around with some balance games (just how much drinking can be done when you're standing on a wobble board!), as well as juggling skills and the slightly bizarre Indian Leg Wrestling…

balance 1 balance 3 balance 2

Monday sees the end of the weekend course and the midweek crew arriving for another three days of coaching. The weather forecast looked promising for fresh snow on Wednesday, but the first day of the midweek course sees a continuation of ice and blue sky. Once again everyone rises to the challenge and reaches the same conclusion about skiing better rather than different when we are on icy snow.

Happily the forecasters are on the money and snow begins to fall on Wednesday, immediately refreshing the piste conditions. There's snow as far down as resort level, which is terrific for mid-October. This continues the great tradition we have for Inside Out Skiing trips of fresh snow on every single trip to the Alps that we’ve had so far. Long may this continue! Throughout the day the snow gets heavier and the smiles get broader. By the end of the day the snow is beginning to fall at resort level and anticipation for the final day grows. We were not to be disappointed.

Fresh snow at resort level in mid-October

Lots of fresh snow for the Inside Out Skiing group

Skiing above the clouds on fresh snow, in October

Smiles 2 Smiles 1 Smiles 3

It still snowing when we head up the funicular for our final day, but as we reach the glacier we are above the clouds and there is a decent fall of fresh snow. In sheltered areas it probably amounts to 20cm of fresh. That’s plenty to give us a superb ending to our Pre-Season Tune-Up. We spend the day lapping around the Grand Motte cable car and the 3500 t-bar, skiing on brilliant variable snow - a little bit wind-swept, a little bit of fresh, a little bit of hardback, etc.

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This is great for training as you really need to keep well balanced on your skis and make great movements to drive your skis around the turn. The fresh snow gives us all a bit more confidence to let the skis run a bit faster, so everyone has a terrific final day! Hopefully our trips for the rest of the season will be equally successful!

Grand Motte glacier looking in perfect condition

Lots more photos of the trip in the Gallery.