Rossendale Skiing On 14th February

By John Lymer

How did you spend your Valentine's night? Well, this is how just 3 of us spent ours.

Bill McGann was injured, so there was a substitution of instructor. Geoff has spent the last 12 years instructing in Arinsal, Andorra. The tiny principality still boasts the largest English speaking ski school in Europe - I remember the tuition on my first ever ski holiday to Soldeu, 20 years ago, as being particularly good. Geoff is back just for one winter and gave us a different "take" on technique to help our skiing. After all, every instructor tells you something slightly different and in a slightly different way. It can either be confusing, or good, or both!

The emphasis of the session was on pole planting. Maybe we think of this as a very minor aspect of technique? Well, yes and no; it also impacts on the rest of your posture.

We were encouraged to roll our wrist up and outwards - think of a twist grip throttle on a motor bike - so that the backs of your hand were almost horizontal and the poles stick out diagonally backwards and down. They diverge. Pictured that? It's a bit different to what most of us do and it perhaps makes you plant the poles further away from the sides of your skis. My "problem" was, Geoff told me, that I liked feeding chickens - too much waving of the arm after planting each pole in turn. Trudy was apparently guilty of a more gorilla-like stance (not a very flattering description!) with arms curved. Curling back the wrists straightens the arms and helps plant the poles in the right place. By planting about 2 feet from the skis, you are more likely to be leaning out over the downhill ski and edging more effectively. Though, where you plant will depend on the steepness of the slope and possibly speed.

There followed the "usual" exercise of holding both sticks horizontally out in front, using both hands. This helped keep the hands still and the body facing down the fall line, or very close to it at all times. We had to imagine carrying a tray of hot chocolate drinks. Next, we had to rest the sticks on the back of our wrists while doing the same things. Trust me, that really makes you hold your hands still. I was assured that there'd be a few hungry chickens now! Trudy, on the other hand, says she'll send Geoff the cleaning bill.

Similar exercises and a few forays into the bumps followed. All in all a good time was had. When we returned home, we finally drank that hot chocolate that we'd been "carrying round" most of the night. Well, it was cold that night and we really know how to live it up.

Any more takers next season?