During February half term 43 students and 5 members of staff headed to the sunny slopes of Grandvilara in Andorra.
We set off from Swindon on the Saturday afternoon and after a long journey we arrived in the ski resort of Pas De La Casa on Sunday. On arrival, naturally everyone was feeling a little tired and so spent a well-earned relaxing evening familiarising ourselves with the hotel and unpacking.
We woke up on Monday to a scene of white; during the night the heavens had opened and dumped a huge amount of snow on the mountains and it was still falling thick and fast, unfortunately with this also came extremely high winds. This provided very cold and tricky conditions for everyone’s first day of skiing, not to mention the students being blown over! That said, everyone seemed to get the hang of snow ploughing and despite the weather everyone finished the day with big smiles on their faces. Some tired bodies in the evening meant we spent the night chilling out, playing table football and table tennis and hoping that the wind would drop.
We awoke on the second day to bright sunshine and clear blue skies- perfect skiing conditions. Once we had traipsed through the town with skis in tow, we were ready for a second day of skiing. The students progressed quickly with the more favourable conditions and many were already riding the ‘magic carpet’ and skiing down the beginner slopes. A hot lunch was the perfect chance to refuel and catch up on stories from the morning session. The afternoon was equally as successful for most, although Jed Hawes was quickly becoming the long-limbed one to keep our eyes open for, with calls of ‘ Jed- snow ploughhhhh!’ echoing around the mountain from the instructor. Nevertheless, the day ended on a high and the students spent some time exploring the town (and stocking up on sweets) before heading back to the hotel for a quiz evening.
The third day brought as good weather as the first and although legs were tired, everyone was ready to hit the slopes once more. We saw some great progress on this day, with human slaloms and parallel turns a-plenty. This proved to be particularly fun and the students found much enjoyment in knocking over Miss Butterfield multiple times! Most of the groups managed to tackle the chair lift for the first time and get down their first ever green run. The feeling of success was evident with all of the students feeling really positive as we headed back for the evening of ice skating in the local town.
With two days left on the slopes, it was time to start pushing on. Now we had the hang of getting on our ski boots, we were able to start bright and early and as the first ski school group out, the students got the chance to make use of the slalom practice course. Although this was challenging, it meant that the students managed to really put their parallel turns into practice with some added speed. After a well deserved lunch break, some of the groups went on to tackle some of the more difficult blue runs around the area. This was found tricky by some, with the best fall of the week going to Hari Burdock for a nice long stomach slide on a particularly steep section, but all made it down to the bottom in one piece. All agreed that this had been the best day by far, and almost all left the slopes looking particularly rosy cheeked with some nice goggle marks coming along!
As much as we didn’t want the last day to come, it dawned bright and sunny as ever. Another early start meant that we made the most of the full day of skiing, venturing down different runs and really refining our skills. By this time we had some really savvy skiers in our midst who were flying down the blue runs with control and style. As with anything, all good things come to an end, and after a fantastic last day it was time to head home, pack our bags and start the long journey back. Not before we had celebrated the students’ successes, funny falls and failures with an awards ceremony. Most notably was the winner of the prestigious ‘most improved skier’ which was awarded to Taylor Gara. With tired legs and full stomachs its fair to say that our journey home was much quieter than the way out!
An absolutely brilliant week of skiing, sun and lots of laughs made for a fantastic trip that was thoroughly enjoyed by all. We thank all students for their company, hard work and resilient attitude for the week. We are excited that we will soon be launching details for next year’s trip, with some tweaks to make it even better than the last…….Watch this space.