Banff - Week 6 and 7

Trip Start Jul 30, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Monday, February 26, 2007

Apologies for letting the blog slip slightly in the past 2 weeks or so but it has just been so unbelievably busy out here.

We've started the CSIA Level 2 course now with a bang. Eric was our new instructor for the first week which was cool with me as he is just so funny - it's constant jokes all day. Apparently they have been given strict instructions to get us all out of our comfort zones for the next 2 weeks by scaring us silly. The first week we spent practically all day, every day skiing steeps, bumps and trees at very high speed - can't believe that no-one hurt themselves! We've been jumping off 6 foot blind cornices onto nearly vertical walls at the top of some of the back bowls. It was all quite extreme but I have to say that I loved every minute of it. Fortunately, it snowed lovely soft powdery snow all week so when we did fall it didn't hurt (too much).

Lake Louise has been really busy as it is UK half-term so there are loads of really bad English skiers clogging up the pistes (how quickly do we get into a locals mentality). This gave us the opportunity of helping to help the ski school teach some lessons over the weekends. Sarah had an interesting one looking after 7 kids - all one of which wanted to do was eat snow all afternoon. Still, she enjoyed it apart from the sore back from picking them off the floor all the time. I got lumbered with a 7 year old lad who was a bit deaf and had motor-neurone disease for my first lesson which was a nice easy introduction into teaching - NOT! The afternoon got better though as I had three girls who all thought I was an absolute legend and did everything that I asked them to.

Finally we decided to skip a meal voucher night and have our first meal out with just the two of us since we have been here. Went to The Keg steakhouse at the Caribou Lodge ("The Boo" as us locals call it) for a really good steak. It was a good opportunity to check it out as a potential hotel for our parents to stay at when they come out in April - very nice.

The other highlight was our IA road trip to The Kicking Horse Resort in British Columbia, about a 2 hour drive away. The main attraction of the place is the steep and deep, black and double black runs at the top of the mountain. Some of the more steeper runs were pretty hairy as the visibility was limited but worst of all was the tiny trails along the top of the ridgeline to get to them, with vertical drops either side - tingly parts alert!! Anyway, all 15 of us who made the journey had a good day and enjoyed a really good lunch n the restaurant at the top of the mountain and then a few après ski beers on the bus home - especially Sarah who for some reason managed to get absolutely hammered on about 2 pints and couldn't stop giggling and falling over for the entire 2 hour journey home!

Once back in dear old Banff, it was off to Melissa's with the rest of the IA guys for $1.75 gin and tonics, pints of a particularly potent cocktail called a Pornstar and a few games of darts with Foo's French mate Bert. Myself, Paul and Caitlin once again got a free ride back to the hotel in a Police car as Caitlin freaked out and went completely paranoid, thinking she was going to be kidnapped. Once back in the safety of the Best Western she promptly threw up all over me in relief - nightmare!

The second week I had a new instructor, Pat Cote, who all the girls love, and Sarah had Jeff (nice turns, let's go ski). This has probably been my best ever week of skiing - it snowed all week and we have just been burning around the mountain non-stop. First run of the week, we had to follow Pat through the tightest tree run imaginable at such a reckless rate of knots that the slightest mistake would make it game over for the rest of the course. Then, the same afternoon, we warmed up by straight-running down the Men's Downhill run in a tuck - I have never been so fast in my life. Sarah's group were doing similar crazy stuff with Jeff, resulting in a spectacular crash by Army Rich. Apparently he took off a large mogul on a black run, flew somersaulting through the air, clearing a cat-track and then plummeted down another 100 or so metres, his skis coming off and pirouetting high above him like a pair of tomahawks. Amazingly he survived with just some bruising and will have to have a few days off but one of his skis came off worse and will need some heavy base-repairing.

Usual Thursday night, school's-out antics in the Rose and Crown, culminating in a hilarious wet T-shirt competition at Aurora's. I can only assume it was hilarious as unfortunately I am unable to remember a single thing about it and woke up at 7:30am having inexplicably slept in the corridor all night with 4 other IA people.

Friday was the official photos day for the International Academy so we had some tame group photos and then some individual "action" shots. Action is a bit of a misnomer as the photographer was so boring that he would only allow us to ski at 1mph down a green run for 10 metres in front of him. We made our own entertainment however when the whole thing degenerated into a massive snowball fight and then a jumping competition off the roof of Whitehorn Lodge with our skis on - see the attached video if you want a good laugh at my near-miss with a picnic table. In the afternoon, the photographer warmed up a bit and took 6 of us, including Sarah and myself, off up the mountain to shoot some cheesy photos for next year's International Academy Brochure - should be good to see when it comes out.

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