Thursday, 26 July 2007
Well, it's somehow taken me over two months to write a post, so maybe the spring wasn't the best time to start a winter sports blog. Having said that, one of the reasons I've been less than productive is that I've been away skiing. A fortnight on the glacier in Les Deux Alpes helped to satisfy the snow addiction for the moment. As I've said elsewhere, summer skiing is a really nice way to spend time in the mountains, and the fact that the skiing finishes at one leaves the afternoons free for other activities or just chilling out.
Not that this was a holiday - it was all training towards the Eurotest, which is part of the ISTD - the top European ski instructor qualification. To pass the Eurotest a candidate has to ski a GS race within 18% of a zero FIS points time (equivalent to being within 18% of the World number one). The test is required by French, Austrian, Italian and British instructors to gain the highest qualification in those countries. To gain the right to teach in France (even temporarily), an instructor has to pass either the Eurotest or a similar slalom test - the Test Technique .
The result of this is a lot of hard work for British instructors wanting to work in France, but it has also led to quite a lot of tension between the various governing bodies of skiing in Europe, particularly as the rules for working in different countries change regularly. Also, until recently, the only way to teach snowboarding or any other snowsport legally in France was to pass the Eurotest - on skis. This is a result of the French refusing to recognise 'Snowboard Instructor' as a separate profession to 'Ski Instructor'.
It is for these reasons that many (non-French) ski instructors loudly criticise the French system as elitist, nationalistic and with an inordinate bias towards racing (particularly as few customers of a typical ski school want to learn to race). However, it is their country and if we as foreigners wish to work there, it is only natural that we are expected to follow the local rules. So, I'll be in the gates doing GS training at every opportunity until I get through it.
The photo at the top right shows Steve W enjoying some summer powder after the day's race training had been abandoned due to too much snow.