Snow Better Way to Spend Half Term
Friday 12th Feb
Squadron Leader Covey assembled his troops early on Friday morning for the long road to Folgarida, Italy; an assortment of established skiers and new recruits ready for the annual adventure on the piste.
Saturday 13th Feb
The outward journey was a breeze and before we knew it, we were at our homely hotel at the foot of the slopes. With our location only 200m away from the ski lift, a welcome mass scheduled for 5:30pm and a hearty feast to sustain us, all the omens were good. At 11pm, 55 tired souls went to sleep satisfied and excited about the week ahead.
Sunday 14th Feb
"I ❤ to Ski"
The female contingent had an extra sugar rush for the first day of skiing courtesy of Mr Chewins' complimentary Valentine's day chocolate treat (big softy!). The males needn't have been too downhearted though, as the hotel ensured we were all energised by excessive carbohydrates from the breakfast buffet (some witnesses claimed they saw Mr O'Donnell consume four croissants. His defence? "I didn't butter any of them!")
The resort was perfectly geared up for our trip; the range of slopes and runs, as well as the skills of our expert instructors, meant all skiers were put in the right groups and the skiing began as soon as we clicked our skis on.
The "elite" skiers accompanied by Miss Iwanek went straight to the summit and we were left only with their trail of powdery snow as they shot away at their usual blistering pace. A special mention goes out to the year 13 skiers: Jack (Male Skier of the Year), Matthew, Joe and Luke; these students set a great example throughout the week and have done for all the years they have been in attendance. Mr Covey is particularly proud of their achievements and attitude over the years-well done lads.
The next group weren't too far behind and the skiers from previous trips clearly remembered much of what they had learnt from Paganella 2015. Female skiers who only debuted the previous year were showing they were naturals when it came to the slopes; what they lacked in aggression and speed, they more than made up for with finesse and technique. Charlotte, Lucy, Adele, Grace and Giovanna, who eventually went on to be voted Female Skier of the Year, well done.
The intermediate group and the two groups of beginners made a slower start, but by the end of the first day, ALL our skiers had at least made an attempt at some of the blue slopes, getting to grips with the ski lifts and alien equipment. The year 8 students: Kenzie, Mariela and Honor seemed to be taking the experience in their stride with a fearless and enthusiastic approach. It was great to see our students exhibiting such a "can-do" mentality. Mariela and Honor were voted best new skiers in recognition of their exceptional attitude and dedication to improving technique throughout the week-well done girls, you are stars of the future.
Monday 15th and Tuesday 16th Feb
"A Piste of Cake"
What struck all the staff during the second and third day of the trip was the rapid progress the 23 new skiers made. All new skiers were at the point at which they could confidently manage some of the more challenging blue slopes. Even greater progress was being made by the new year 11 contingent; so much so that by the end of Tuesday we decided that we needed to reshuffle the groups to enable them to make a start on the more challenging red slopes further up the mountain. Caitlin Hebb and Cole Chang were getting to grips with the sport very well, despite being complete novices.
Sadly one new skier, David Dunne, twisted his cruciate ligaments on a tricky red run and couldn't ski again for the remainder of the holiday. The great positive to come from this was his attitude, courage and response to the unavoidable accident. David fully engaged with all the evening activities and remained upbeat despite the disappointment-well done David, we really hope to see you back on the mountain next year. David's peers saw fit to vote David as the "Skiers' Skier" to recognise his positivity.
Rumours of off-piste trails and high speed jumps came from aloft. The more advanced skiers were really challenging themselves and pushing our experienced skiing staff harder and further than they expected by this point. Regardless of what level the skiers were at, there was a common theme to the evening's discussions; the staff were in awe of the rapid rate of progress the pupils were making in terms of their skiing. Just as importantly, the staff and instructors spoke in glowing terms about the attitude and kindness of the skiers to one another. At this point it would seem suitable to mention Jordan Gill and Jack Hardy who won the "Ski Etiquette" award for their consistently helpful and optimistic approach-both were absolute superstars throughout-well done chaps.
On Tuesday evening the students and staff went skating (from the staff team, only Mr O’Donnell and Miss Culliney were willing to take to the ice!). The outdoor Olympic rink provided a great way to burn any additional energy after another humungous evening feast. It was a pleasure to see children just being children without their phones stuck to their palms or them being worried about messing up their hair.
Wednesday 17th Feb
"The Dreaded Wednesday Wall"
When we hit the proverbial wall on Wednesday there were a few students feeling the burn as we began our ascent after breakfast. Some students shuffled around the groups until they found the one suited to their ability and degrees of tiredness. The muscles and joints that are never normally used were beginning to ache and throb, but with the on-piste feast to refuel everyone at lunch time, the students managed to complete another successful day of skiing.
That evening we all went ten pin bowling and the students were challenged to beat the reigning champion, Joe Speed. A few students got close, but Joe signed off in style and retained his title for another year. Mr Chewins narrowly defeat his arch rival, Mr O’Donnell, in the staff competition. Later that evening the staff discussed the nominations for “Muppet” vest and “Hazard” jacket models for the next day; Jack I’Anson was a hot favourite for his demolition derby, but other nominations for the week included:Giovanna for a multiple pile up and wipe out
Miss Stone for a ski-jump face plant
Christian for failing to get off the ski lift and breaking a pole because of his constant flirting with fellow skiers
Miss Culliney for failing to stop on a regular basis
Navjot for being a snow angel for most of the first couple of days (her vest did transform her performance the next day though-not one fall wearing the luminous monstrosity!)
Mr O’Donnell for getting the wrong ski lift to the neighbouring town….yes, that’s Mr O’Donnell, deputy head and GEOGRAPHY teacher!
Kenzie for general ‘Muppetry’ and a wild, often unorthodox approach to staying on his feet! All nominees accepted their new wardrobe gracefully and took the “awards” in the right spirit.
Thursday 18th Feb
"Thurs-ty for even Bigger Things"
The novices were now becoming much more confident and assured, tackling red runs without fear. Mr O’Donnell, Mr Teale and Miss Culliney were all clearly proud of the achievements their groups had made, speaking in glowing terms of their students. Miss Culliney made a particularly strong bond with her group, unable to contain her excitement at the progress and positivity of Sukhjeevan, Ramandeep, Navjot, Julia, Gabi, Teigan and “Pam” (Bethany, who for some unknown reason was known as Pam to the instructor!)
The more senior skiers were covering nearly every slope on the mountain and spending most of their time seeking out ski jumps and alternative routes. Miss Stone and Miss Iwanek both had the pleasure of witnessing some high adrenaline, extreme skiing courtesy of their respective groups.
Mr Covey and Mr Chewins covered almost every group at some point, managing to give some more bespoke support and training to those that needed it, as everyone pushed themselves hard on the final full day. There was a feeling that the wonderful experience was coming to an end, so all involved were desperate to try new things and work towards the limits of their skiing skills and abilities.
Back at the hotel, we were met by our instructors for an awards presentation. Each skier received a personal card showing the progress they had made. The instructors were presented with personal gifts from each group there was a real sense of achievement and camaraderie. The instructors were superb throughout the trip and it was clear how touched they were by their gifts.
That evening we had the pleasure of night skiing, but due to some administration errors by Ian, our ski rep, the night was cut a little bit short. Ian had to endure a severe dressing down from Marco who was quick to point out ways in which he could improve his service and people skills – thanks Marco, it’s safe to say your comments represented the feelings of the group in an articulate and (VERY!) forthright way!
Friday 19th Feb
"Farewell Fabulous Folgarida"
Mr Covey is always keen to get one final Friday fling under our belts before we leave and this year was no exception. Despite being totally shattered, everyone made one final push and headed out on to the slopes. It was a beautiful, blazing morning and the snow diamonds were winking at us as we rose up to the top of the mountain for a final hurrah. After a bittersweet morning on the slopes, we signed off from Hotel Renzi with a customary feast from our hosts. With a heavy heart, we set off on the looooooooonnnnnnnngggggg journey home.
"The longest day..."
Thirty hours later we arrived back at SBSJ Ardor site. We arrived back in the manner we left; cheering, clapping and celebrating a wonderful trip. It would be impossible to mention every one of the 55 strong party, but in one way or another, everyone involved did themselves proud, demonstrated courage, battled demons and represented the school in a positive way. Thanks to all those who took part and we look forward to seeing many of you again next year.
EAT. SLEEP. SKI. REPEAT.
Report by Mr Covey