Reporters: David Gould and Hugh Edwards
December 2012 saw the introduction of a SCOM pre-season club training week with 'the development centre (TDC) in Val d'Isère, French Alps. Giles, who heads up TDC, and his team gave 17 keen SCOM members excellent instruction over the five week days. Lessons were held in the mornings between 0900h and 1200h giving everyone the opportunity to either free ski in the afternoon or rest aching muscles. Of course there was always the opportunity to partake in a well earned Vin Chaud in La Rosee Blanche on route back to the Hotel after a exhilarating day on the slopes.
The instruction delivered by TDC was second to none. Group sizes varied from 7 to only 4 in one of the off-piste groups. TDC aim to coach you on your style as an individual allowing you to really make a breakthrough in confidence and ability. They certainly achieved this goal with skiers receiving focussed personal feedback. Whilst at times the conditions were challenging the style of coaching we received certainly allowed us to improve our skills in an enjoyable and relaxed environment. Each group aimed to individual development paths with most venturing off on occasion into the fabulous powder.
The adventure started in Manchester airport with Flybe seeming a little confused over which plane our skis would be on. However all skiers and skis arrived intact at Geneva airport and the three hour bus trip to Val D’Isere was comfortable and complimented by fantastic alpine views.
The Hotel Champs Avalin, situated in La Daille, offered comfortable accommodation in a typically French Hotel with a rustic alpine feel. The rooms were clean, warm and best of all had a bath, something not always available in the Alps. The food served in the pleasant hotel restaurant was excellent with a choice of three options for dinner, including vegetarian, and as much wine as you could drink. A hot option was offered with breakfast or alternatively continental style with plenty of choice.
The service offered by the staff in the Ski Total Hotel Champs Avalin was second to none. Great company, excellent food and free wine with dinner led to a joyous culinary week for all.
A fine evening out was enjoyed by all on the Wednesday at the excellent Le Barillon restaurant in La Daile with fine food, plenty full wine and vibrant conversation with many of the world’s problems being solved in a matter of hours as is usual.
Val d'Isère town is very picturesque especially at night with the trees lit up and the lights glittering in the snow. A relaxed and friendly resort with prices to match most pockets, including the fury collar addicts, but not so exclusive as to put off the more financially considerate of us.
The town is made up of three main areas being La Daille, Val d'Isère and Le Fornet all located along the same straight road. A free shuttle bus service is provided every 5 minutes through most of the day taking you the length of the town.
The food and drink is perhaps a little more expensive in Val d'Isère than some other resorts with a beer at around seven euro and a basic meal sixteen. There are several very friendly bars and restaurants with good food and live music.
We were fortunate in having the women's World Cup downhill coinciding with our stay and some of our hotel rooms had amongst the best views of finish line. During the week we could see the amount of work that went onto setting the course up. The media camp had located it's self outside of our hotel together with the team accommodation. The race favourite, Lindsey Vonn, had a rare crash and failed to make a five consecutive win and instead the race was won by Swiss skier Lara Gut with second place going to Leanne Smith from the USA. Unfortunately the Super G, due to be held on the Saturday, was cancelled due to a white out but this did not stop many of the club members who reported the best days skiing of the week no doubt fuelled by the skilful coaching received that week at the hands of the TDC team.
A big thanks to Chill Factore for not allowing TDC to come to us this year which led the club to go to TDC and an excellent holiday! Next year is already in the planning and very likely to become an annual event.