This week I had the pleasure of joining Evolution 2 for their half day off-piste ski clinic. Although I’ve been skiing for a few years my off-piste experience was limited to the occasional foray off the side of the marked slopes, where I could easily bail into safer territory if my “sit back and hang on for dear life” technique wasn’t doing me any favours. I decided it was high time to take a proper lesson and iron out my bad habits – would four hours be long enough?!
We met bright and early at Les Grands Montets and got on to the gondola before all the crowds arrived. Evolution 2 got off to a flying start with the choice of ski instructor – a handsome young chap by the name of Christophe who put everyone at ease with his friendly charms. He started by handing out avalanche transceivers in the gondola and asking everyone about their ski level to get an idea what he was working with. Our group was made of 5 skiers, all confident on-piste but with little or no off-piste experience.
We started off with a few on-piste runs so that Christophe could check out our style (or lack of it) and give us some advice. It turns out that most of us were making the same mistakes – not keeping our upper bodies facing down the mountain and sitting back too much when we turn. Easy to identify but not so easy to correct, as it turns out.
After a few exercises to give us an idea of the kind of stance we were aiming for we went up the Bochard and headed off piste in search of powder. It had snowed overnight but was a bit windblown and heavy, so it wasn’t the easiest conditions to learn in. The legs were working hard and within 5 minutes each of us had taken at least one tumble – into soft snow though so we all came up laughing. As Christophe pointed out, if we could learn to turn in these conditions then fresh light powder would be a breeze.
Even with 5 of us in the group Christophe was great at identifying everyone’s weak spots and giving individual attention to help us correct them. Some people started the lesson feeling a bit nervous but by the time we stopped for a quick break halfway through everyone was relaxed and eager to get going again. This course isn’t just about floating effortlessly through perfect powder; we also learned how to attack moguls, turn on steeper terrain and control our skis in different types of snow – all without being able to see much through the clouds. After all that our first bluebird powder day will be a doddle!
It turns out that one of my (many) bad habits is to use my skis independently of one another, stepping from one to the other kind of like I’m on a stairmaster machine. Having my skis wider apart makes me feel more stable but it also means that they’re far more likely to do their own thing and go off in different directions. It was Christophe’s mission to have me skiing more like an actual skier and less like an ice hockey goal keeper by the end of the session – and he managed it! Since the off-piste clinic I’ve been diligently practising my new skills; I’m not quite ready for the Freeride World Tour just yet, but I’m definitely more confident and skiing with more control than I was this time last week.
At just 69€ the Evolution 2 Off-Piste Clinic is a great way to spend 4 hours having fun and improving your technique. If you get it done towards the start of your holiday you’ll have the rest of the week to enjoy practising your newfound skills – I wish I’d done it sooner!