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Blake from SkivoAcademy trains people to become ski instructors to the highest levels. He runs his ski instructor training programme in Courchevel and most of the instructors in this area that come through the system have done at least some of their training with Skivo Academy. We caught up with Blake and got his thoughts on why you should consider getting instruction as an advanced skier.
Why get Ski Instruction as an Advanced Skier?
Honestly you can probably continue doing what you’re doing, probably not what you were expecting me to say, you can make your way around the mountain already, you can ski where you want to ski, you may even have aspirations to become a ski instructor, why bother getting any more lessons? Seems stupid…but it’s not… I can think of lots of reasons, but here are the first three that come into my head.
It is likely that despite being able to “ski anywhere you want” you have not even scratched the surface. Ever fancied going where no lifts can take you to? Ski off-piste and not see anyone for miles. It doesn’t have to be the couloirs at the top of Saulire, it could be adventures in Les Avals or Itinerary routes in Orelle or if you want to get more serious you can put skins on your skis and walk off into the mountains.
You can do all of these and it’s perfectly feasible but before you can do this you will need to be able to ski off-piste. But what does that actually mean? Most people think off-piste is just powder but actually it’s anywhere not on the piste, sounds obvious! But what this means is that it’s not just lovely light powder that you are going to be skiing, it’s likely going to be a variety of snow conditions.
So do you want to go on some adventures a little further afield? We don’t necessarily mean hiking for miles, we could mean popping into hidden valleys and using the whole mountain as our playground rather than just the piste. If you want to, you’ll need to be comfortable skiing all conditions because it can’t always be the hero powder that you see the magazine photos of, you may need to learn to also ski some crud, breakable crust, ice, frozen slush, spring snow etc. Perhaps you need to use a retraction turn, feather the turn, pick the ski up in the snowpack… All of these different conditions require adjustments in your technique but how on earth would you know how to ski them effectively and enjoy them unless someone is there to give you a few nudges in the right direction.
Pistes probably cover about 20% of the mountain (that’s a complete guess, I don’t know the actually % for Courchevel) but the point is that there is much more of the mountain to explore. This isn’t something to be done on your own as this can be dangerous if you don’t know where are going or if snow conditions are unstable. Get yourself some advanced lessons, explore the mountains, take some adventures.
It can be tempting when you are gaining confidence to ski faster and faster and this is natural and completely fine, but there is only so fast that the basic parallel skiing technique can safely go and it’s not that fast!
If you want to ski at higher speeds it is essential that you learn to carve. Skis turn in a similar way to a bike. At lower speeds you will turn the handlebars of a bike the direction that you want to go, at higher speeds you will tilt the whole bike over to turn. There are similarities with skiing, at the lower speeds we turn our skis the direction we want to go but at higher speeds we need to tilt our skis over.
Simplistically that is it, however doing it and staying in balance at speed requires a little more thought and practise. Skiing to many people is counter intuitive, if you want to carve well you will need someone to tell you how to do it effectively and I guarantee you that carving better equals more fun.
Learn to be able to improve yourself
As you become better and better you start to be able to listen to what the skis are telling you. Sounds spiritual! Perhaps they feel like they aren’t gripping so well, or they keep diving down in the snowpack. These feelings should start to trigger responses, but it will only happen if you can really understand what the skis are doing and you know how to manipulate the ski.
These are things that can be explained by experienced ski instructors and they can give you the toolkit to solve any problems that you may have. The more advanced you get the less it is about pure technique and the more we need to think adjustments, tactics or the psychology of our performance.
There we go, 3 little snippets, but I think that the better you become at skiing the more you enjoy it! There are plenty of expert ski instructors that will be able to help you with advanced ski lessons, the instructors love to do this sort of work!
If you have any questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please be patient with a response as most of the day I’ll be out coaching but equally if you never hear back feel free to give me another nudge.
All the best, Blake
Update: Crowd Restrictions – A limit of 500 people from Courchevel side (walking or cycling and arriving before 13:00). A limit of 1000 people walking or cycling from the Méribel side. Access will be controlled in the final 500m before the summit. of 500 people from Courchevel side (walking or cycling and arriving before 13:00). A limit of 1000 people walking or cycling from the Méribel side. Access will be controlled in the final 500m before the summit.
The La Tania Col de la Loze finish is on Wednesday 16 September 2020.
Le Tour has been moved due to the pandemic from it’s normal June/July slot to take place from Sat 29 August 2020 to Sun 20 September 2020.
Day 17 is the 168km mountain stage from Grenoble to Méribel on 16 Sep 2020. This not only includes the famous Col de la Madeleine but it then finishes at the top of Col de la Loze above La Tania on the brand new cycling track that goes up there. The Stage 18 start the following day is from Méribel Altiport to La Roche-sur-Foron.
The 2020 Le Tour Route Map
The last time Le Tour was in La Tania was 2005 and was a huge occasion – well worth a trip out to see it.
See our ride down from Col de Loze to Méribel last Summer – it’s actually almost easy to hit 80km/h on the straight bit of Boulevard du Loze even on a Mountain Bike!
The arrival of the peleton at the Col de la Loze is scheduled between 16:45 and 17:45 (estimated times) on Wednesday.
Access via cycle is available from Verdons on the tarmac track to Col de la Loze and the walking route is from 1850 to Verdons and then via the Lac Bleu path. Covid-19 restrictions are in place with limited viewing areas at the finish – will be unlike other finishes we’ve seen on TV then!
Many teams are staying in Courchevel and the altiport will be used by Le Tour on 16 September. Road closures and diversions will be in place – see the dedicated page on www.savoie.gouv.fr
Bars open are The Drop Inn in Le Praz, Funky Fox, La Boulotte, & La Cabane in 1650 and Bar de la Luge in 1850. Restaurant 1928 (Roc Tania) is open at the Loze summit if you fancy the climb up.
Covered car parks in Courchevel are free but no ski lifts are open in the Courchevel Valley.
Don’t forget to check-in at Col de la Loze 2304m – La Tania
In Méribel bars open include La Tsaretta, Jacks, The Tav, LdV (open from 7am), Barometer, Le Blanchot, La Fromagerie, Le Refuge, Le Spot, Petits Oignons, La Terasse du Mottaret and Les Rhododendrons on the track up to the Col de la Loze.
The Saulire Express 1 Gondola will be open (free) from La Chaudanne in Méribel on Wed 16 September to give access to the Cold de la Loze track viewing points.
Golf Chairlift from Méribel Village will open on Thursday 17 September to view the start (“grand depart”) from the Méribel Altiport.
More information on this stage of the Tour at www.letour.fr/fr/etape-17
Nearly mid-way through September and traditionally the busiest booking period for Ski Holidays. The local businesses in and around La Tania are doing their best at offering flexible, protected booking policies and making plans for Covid Secure Ski Holidays.
Far too much negativity about, could be the best season ever if the slopes are quiet! So book now – #TheSnowMustGoOn
Extreme Ski Services offer a state of the art cleaning service using the latest disinfectant technology for spraying/fogging and protecting against viruses for 30 days.
Alpine Escape – All guests booking one of our chalets for winter 2020/2021 will benefit from our Covid-19 money safe guarantee. Of course, standards in the chalets will be higher than ever, and we are ready to adapt our service to be flexible to your needs.
The Freeride Republic – Book with confidence using our new COVID19 refunds policy. Our ski holidays for 2021 are available with a full refund for COVID19 cancellations up until 7 days prior to your travel date with refundable deposits of just £50.00
Snow Retreat – New booking conditions are now available allowing a full refund up to a week before arrival in the case of travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ski-Dazzle – Book with confidence – no quibble cancellation policy due to covid. Chalets available on a Self Catered Basis only this winter (catering and drinks delivery options available).
Ski Magic – We have put together a clear policy to provide protection should COVID-19 related government restrictions mean that you are unable to travel. This guarantee applies to all new and existing bookings for holidays between 1st December 2020 and 30th April 2021.
Ski Amis – Ensuring the safety of our guests is very important to us following the pandemic. Although it is very early to tell exactly what measures will be required for holidays coming up next season, we will be ensuring that all of our staff and chalets are taking the utmost precations and sticking to all measures required of them.
The Alpine Generation – Book with peace of mind for Winter 20/21. For more details please see our updated Ts&Cs.
Alpine Action – We have now created a new-and-enhanced cancellation policy to give you greater peace of mind. We will also be Covid-19 Ready, so please take a look at precautions & protocols that will be in our chalets.
Two thirds of Les Trois Têtes (where’s Kate?) , plus Rambling Roots Emma and their old man Rich at Pub Le Ski Lodge last night – they’ve still got it!
With massive amounts of work going on creating the 2023 World Cup piste and the associated snow cannon system and reservoir it feels like some of the “normal” work at the end of the season was forgotten.
Yesterday the magic carpets in La Tania finally got covered up. There’s still plenty of netting, fencing and crash mats that usually get removed in place too.
Meanwhile in 1850 there’s some huge construction work in front of La Croisette. A big hole and retaining wall – possibly access to the underground car park for the new Stade construction? Anyone know?
The La Tania swimming pool is open every day except Saturday with 2 sessions in operation this Summer for additional Covid cleaning operations and a maximum of 30 people.
Sessions from 14:00 to 16:10 and 16:40 to 18:50 cost €4 each. A bit 1980s but tight swimming costumes (budgie smugglers) are compulsory – no boardies/swimming shorts. Showers are compulsory and you mustn’t move the sun beds or umbrellas. Not widely advertised Aqua exercise classes take place at 11:15 on Tue & Thu, ask in the Tourist Office.
Aquamotion in Courchevel 1550/1650 has slides, gym, swimming lanes, lazy river, indoor & outdoor pools plus “Wellness” Areas. Costs €20 for adults for an afternoon session (you may be moved around when the additional cleaning takes place but you don’t have to pay again).
Free car parking and lockers, showers compulsory. Book on-line at aquamotion-courchevel.com
This €60m complex does allow shorts / boardies however!
The Courchevel Valley Ski Pass (including La Tania) prices for 2021 have been released – there is now no Aquamotion entrance included and the duo / tribu discounts (for 2 or 3 people with the same passes for 6 or more days) have been withdrawn.
The difference between a Courchevel Valley 6 day adult pass in main season (€286) and a 3 Valleys pass (€321) is less (€35) than a 3 Valleys extension which will cost €39 for Winter 2020/2021. So as it was last season, if you’re going to ski just once over in to Méribel (and beyond) it’s cheaper to buy a 3 Valleys Pass.
Family Pass discounts for children over 5 and under 18 (kids are under 13 on normal passes) remain with a 6 day 3 Valleys pass costing €256.80 and a Courchevel pass €229. All passes must be bought together for a family and be the same type and duration – all pay the same amount but you don’t have to ski together!
With Tribu discount the 3 Valleys Pass difference is only €20 so the 3 Valleys pass is definitely the way to go next Winter!
There are rumours that the Workers and Resident Season Pass discounts may be altered for Winter 2021 – we’ll update as soon as we hear anything.
Looking down from Col de la Loze the extent of the work on the new tunnel under the World Cup piste near the La Tania Gondola Station can be seen.
The original start of the Jockeys piste that connected to the Bouc Blanc (well before the beginners magic carpet lift was installed) has been filled in to give a consistent gradient and will go over a tunnel that will provide recreational skiers access when racing is in progress.
Using the free La Tania gondola to gain height then following the Teddy Bear 🧸 path through the forest to the cross country ski track towards Meribel leads on to a spectacular walk to Méribel Village. At over 4500 feet and mostly in the shade of the trees it’s a pleasant retreat from the heat of the Sun.
The day finished with some music at Après at the Ski Lodge with Charlie and young Tom helping out too.
A breakaway group of cows tried to get the beginners magic carpet working in the centre of La Tania today…