Ski Trip 2023
On Friday, February 17th, 42 students and 6 staff braved the demands of a lengthy coach journey to Austria to experience all the fantastic things that a school ski trip has to offer!
Full of excitement (tinged with a touch of understandable trepidation for some), the group left at lunchtime on board the executive coach and headed towards Folkstone for the Channel Tunnel crossing. Before we knew it, we were in France honing our language skills and raiding the service stations for top-ups on Haribo (other confectionery is available!) and other time-passing snacks. As night descended, excitement began to give way to tiredness and a touch of journey fatigue…
Next thing, we were awake in Germany!
Having navigated the busy roads around Munich (and having seen the amazing football stadium that houses both the famous Munich teams), the Austrian hills started to come alive with the sound of music - the mountains began to heave in to view accompanied by the merry sound of excited teenagers and staff chirruping along with their new-found, early morning,, “nearly there” excitement. 22.5 hours after departure (representing a record outbound journey time), the coach pulled up to the Gosauschmied, Gosau in the Dachstein West region of Austria.
The good news: plenty of snow in resort!
Following a period of settling in to the hotel (which was basic but warm, friendly and with great proximity to the slopes), we undertook our ski fitting in order to hit-the-slopes first thing on the Sunday morning. By 21:00, everyone was ready for sleep and the arduous journey there soon became a fading memory.
With revived bodies and spirits, we took to the slopes before the locals on Day One. It was lovely to see students new to the sport experiencing the delights of such a beautiful environment for the first time and great to meet the team of friendly instructors on the nursery slopes for the ski test designed to ascertain ability and to ensure students hadn’t overstated their skiing experience or been too modest!
With 4 groups identified and teachers allocated to the groups, we took to the slopes.
The only minor issue: on the lower slopes it was raining (for the beginners) while up on top of the mountain (with the advanced and intermediate group), it was high winds and snow! Such is the unpredictable and changeable nature of life in such an adventurous environment…
Irrespective, all groups took to the slopes with aplomb and by the end of Day 1 the beginners had learned the basics and those with more experience had begun to explore the 65km and 1800m awe-inspiring peaks that the region had to offer.
The rest of the week on the slopes was amazing: the sun shone and the beautiful landscape offered up all sorts of exciting experiences. Above all, though, was the wonderful progress seen in the skiing and the team work which underpinned all of this. By Tuesday, the beginner groups had mastered the basics so they could go in the gondola to the top of the Zwieselalm mountain and see the myriad other slopes available to them on this and future trips. The fact that they would venture down the 1800m slopes to the nursery area where they had started only 3 days’ previous was incredible, some of them were even performing jumps in the Fun Park…
And all with a collective smile on their faces!
Elsewhere, those who had skied before got to explore all sorts of slopes across the 65km available – and all in the glorious sunshine which contrasted so markedly with the challenging conditions which characterised the first day. Again, it was all undertaken with a terrific esprit d’corps. By the end of the week, no inch of snow had been left uncovered and the already proficient skiers were even more expert in their sport.
As part of the wider experience, the group had opportunity to be involved in all sorts of other great experiences in the evenings:
- A quiz – won by the teachers but only narrowly did they out-perform a strong student showing, especially from Y11
- A visit to the aqua park – which, by all accounts, lived up the expectations created by our great PGL rep, Rafa
- A Snow Show – a brilliant event on the floodlit slopes on the night of Fasching Tuesday (the Austrian equivalent of Shrove Tuesday) where the history of skiing was enacted and all sorts of high-level skiing and boarding was on display
- A disco – where the students with their moves and choice of tunes demonstrated for the teachers just how out of touch many of them now are…
On the last evening, amidst all the packing and trying to work out just whose socks belonged to whom, we celebrated the week with an Awards Evening. Staff and the hoteliers as well as the coach drivers were all recognised but the focus, of course, was on the brilliance of the students. A Skier of the Week was identified for each group as well as an overall Skier of the Week based upon factors such as progress, attitude, and technical ability. The winners were:
- Liv – Y10
- Gemma – Y9
- Amelia – Y9
- Isaac – Y9
For his progress, good humour and support the overall Skier of the Week was Charlie – Y9
We wish we could reward everyone as it was such a great team experience and effort!
By the end of the week, a great experience had been had and the long journey home passed relatively quickly given the tiredness, relaxing satisfaction and great memories created. Staff had kindly given up their half-term for what is a wonderful but very demanding experience but the much-appreciated celebratory communications from parents and students alike reiterated just how worth it it had all been.
We very much thank the parents for their kind words but also their support in the smooth-running of the first such major trip since Lockdowns ended.
We in particular thank the students for being so brilliant.
Please look out for Ski Trip 2024!