By Ben Moore, Sep 18 2016 08:10PM
The new school year is in full swing but I can’t stop looking back on what was a great summer holidays. I imagine like our two children, yours were busy having fun and probably attended various clubs and camps during the break.
For a final fling at the beginning of September, Parallel Trails’ junior members Seb and Ollie were able to spend two days at a ski camp at Gloucester Dry Slope. It was run jointly by Team Evolution, who are experts in their field and are usually found running FIS level ski race training out in Austria, in association with Ambition Racing.
But back in Blighty – with our lack of snowy mountains – they run a series of children’s camps at dry slopes and indoor snow centres around the country.
They are a brilliant thing to get your skiing children doing. It doesn’t matter if they are relatively new to dry slope racing, these camps are all about having fun, challenging yourself and improving your skiing.
Seb and Ollie are members of their local Bowles Ski Racing Club and compete in a series of London and South East dry slope races. They’re unlikely to be Olympic champions, but they will grow up to be the best skiers they can be, with a love for being in the mountains.
There were many skiers at the camp who were faster than our boys, but they both came away from the two days with smiles on their faces and a sense of achievement having worked on their ski technique from 10am to 4pm. There was one-to-one feedback from coaches, time off skis working on core fitness drills, free t-shirts, goodie bags full of skiing-related freebies and the chance to try brand new skis provided by main sponsor Rossignol.
Paul Telling is the programme director at Team Evolution and he says the motivation behind the UK camps is to develop the sport at grassroots level.
“It’s about getting as many kids as possible - who've been skiing with their families, who can ski to a decent level, who can ski fast around the mountain – to develop those skills. We want to get as many kids as possible into the sport, enjoying their skiing, skiing fast and seeing where their limits are.”
Both Team Evolution and Ambition Racing run a range of camps during the year and they vary from one-day camps to four-day training events. Depending on whether the camp is at a dry slope or indoor centre, you can expect to pay £60-75 for a day. Or £200-240 for a four-day camp. These are structured so you start off by working on fundamentals on the first day and towards the fourth day you are skiing more and more on gated courses.
“The idea is to test all of the kids against as many different variables as possible. So how good are they at skiing fast? How good are they at making a short turn? How good are they at letting a ski run? What are they like skiing with one ski, or without poles? And when you take them off their skis, how dynamic are they? How athletic are they? It's to challenge their limits in a safe environment,” explains Telling.
“If you want to get better at something then you need repetition. In the same way if you play a musical instrument you don't just play it intensely for a few weeks of the year and then not pick it up for the rest of the year. You would actually try playing it outside of having your lessons.”
And Telling is adamant, almost evangelical, that the benefits of just a little bit of specialist training can have a massively positive impact on your children’s skiing.
I agree with him – your child doesn’t have to want to be a downhill racer, but joining a local race club and training regularly on a dry slope or on artificial indoor snow throughout the year will boost their self-esteem as well as their technique. You’ll really notice the difference when you’re on snow on your next family holiday – I know this from personal experience!
“These camps, even if the kids aren't aiming to become racers in the long run, help them become better skiers and therefore enjoy their ski holidays more.
“They shouldn't pigeon-hole themselves as a ski racer or a freestyler. Skiers love being in the mountains, whether that's skiing fast or jumping or skiing with family and friends. Being a skier is possibly the best thing in the world.” he adds.
Tempted? You should be and there is an immediate chance to get involved. Snowsport England is offering free or discounted taster sessions at slopes across the country as part of its #30DaysOfSnowsport initiative. It runs from Saturday 24th September until Sunday 23rd October and 19 slopes – from Kendal down to Southampton – are taking part. Find your local slope at www.30daysofsnowsport.org.uk and get your children involved!