Banff, Week 4

Trip Start Jul 30, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Sunday, February 4, 2007

This is our last week before our CSIA Level 1 exams next week so everyone in the International Academy is desperate to soak up as much knowledge as possible from our new instructors this week. Sarah has a really nice English girl, Alex, and my group has local boy, Spunky Duncan.

We all spent most of the week perfecting our Fast Track To Parallel lessons - mobility, sliding, stopping, turning and linking. There were still a few comedy moments though, notably when Irish Ben decided to take his class of nervous beginners down a green run called Wiwaxy to practice sliding. The plan was that we would line up on the start line and then have a sliding race to see who could get the furthest with a single pole push. Ben's choice of terrain to do this was almost perfect, nice and flat so that we couldn't pick up too much speed. I say "almost perfect" because after about 30 feet the flat bit runs out and then there is a really steep section. He had hopelessly underestimated our powerful poling and the last thing I remember seeing was the horrified look on Ben's face as his beginner class went sailing off over the horizon and headlong down the black run.

There's been a second casualty this week as Jason, one of the snowboarders and also our expert IA table-booker, dislocated his shoulder going off a jump and will be going home back to England early next week. It seems a bit like a sort of skiing Big Brother at the moment with somebody getting voted off each week with an injury. That now makes it Skiers 1 - Snowboarders 1.

Monday night was Green Alex's birthday (Green Alex because he dyed his hair green for some reason) so despite most people being under the weather with a cold, we all went to the St James Gate pub for dinner. A few of the IA had thoughtfully decided to buy Alex a nice present as he was so far away from his family and friends on his birthday. We all watched in trepidation and then shock as he unwrapped what can only be described as a "Pocket Pussy". Happy Birthday Alex.

The Shepherds Pie didn't agree with me at all and I spent the rest of that night throwing it back up in our room. Apparently Sarah says I fainted into the cupboard and fell onto my ski boot which explains the massive bruise on my shoulder.

Tuesday was my birthday and as it turned out, my best efforts to keep it fairly quiet were all in vain as Caitlin decided to make it her life's mission to make sure that absolutely everyone in Banff and Lake Louise knew about my 33rd. As I emerged from the room that morning and gingerly entered the hotel reception to a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday", I couldn't help noticing the birthday greetings that were plastered all over the hotel. It took until the ski bus stop to also notice that my ski jacket had been vandalized with "Birthday Boy" written on the back with silver gaffer tape! Once on the bus there was another round of "Happy Birthday" after the bus driver announced to everyone that I was a tragically old 33 today. The rest of the day was spent saying thanks to random characters wishing me Happy Birthday on the slopes. Thanks Caitlin.

That evening we all ate at the Magpie and Stump Mexican. Unbeknownst to us, the Lake Louise Ski Instructors were having a Scavenger Hunt around town that night. For those of you not familiar with this, each team has a list of items that they must collect for points in an allotted timeframe - e.g yesterdays cinema stub, a Macdonalds breakfast, etc. You get the idea. After loads of Ski Instructors kept approaching us all night, we found out that one of the items on their list was an International Academy member in dressed in drag. Foo, Army Rich (a little too readily), Green Alex and Jack duly volunteered and we set off to the Paddock for the Ski Instructors Party with 3 beautiful ladyboys in tow. A quiet school night quickly turned into a full on party.

The weekend was pretty quiet as our exams start on Monday.

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