Pre-Season Tune-Up 2010 - Fresh tracks in Tignes in September!

28th September and it's breakfast in the Hotel Les Melezes in Tignes. We have a dilemma: is this the last of the summer skiing, the first of the pre-season or the start of winter? It's too difficult question to answer so we head up to the Grand Motte glacier to see what conditions await us, and members of the Inside Out Ski Club who are due to arrive in the evening.

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What we find are astonishingly good conditions for a month when few people are even thinking about skiing. The glacier ski area is almost empty, with just a few junior race teams and the French Paralympic ski team burning up the slopes (man, those guys are impressive!). Piste conditions are fast, with great grippy snow. And the sun is shining. It's difficult to describe how lucky we feel, and grins are permanently affixed! We blast around the pistes that are open to get a feel for conditions and happily find that it's just about perfect for the two group of club members who will be in resort for three-day clinics.

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With the limited terrain that is available on the glacier the coaching is very technical, with lots of drills to focus on developing specific skills. Not so much a ski holiday but a training camp to give club members a skills boost so they can enjoy their ski holidays in the winter even more. We have a fast group and an even-faster group and everyone seems to enjoy the time on the glacier. Typically it's an early start to the day to get a minibus up to Tignes Val Claret for the 8.30am or 9.00am funicular, then coaching through until lunchtime, sometimes with a mid-morning break. Last funicular down from the glacier is at 3.30pm, so there's usually time for an hour or so free skiing after lunch. After that it's back to the hotel for a snooze or to spend some time in the sauna or outdoor jacuzzi, followed by video feedback and a discussion of what areas to work on the following day.

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We are blessed with great weather, and even get a couple of top-ups of fresh snow while we are there. Seems almost mean to be skiing fresh tracks at this time of year. Not that feelings of guilt hold any of us back, so it really is wonderful to make turns in a few inches of fresh powder (even when it all goes horribly wrong).

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Progress is made and good times were had. One day was lost to bad weather (very high winds) but overall everyone had a fun time and there was much chat of what a great opportunity it was to ski at this time of year. Even those who slightly over-indulged at the hotel's bar still managed to ski well the following day, much to the admiration of the club coaches ;-)

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You can view the photo gallery here.

Photo slideshow of the Pre-Season Tune-Up:

Photo credits: Rob Rees, Jason Gibson