What to expect on a ski season
The season of skiing, beer peche, steeze, dancing on tables in ski boots and using the hashtag - winter is coming - is upon us. I’m going to do a little series on my seasons to help any first timers - so I thought I’d start with a bit about what to actually expect…
On my first season in Les Arcs, I had absolutely no idea what on earth to expect. I was such an introvert who struggled with anxiety and very low self-esteem. I still to this day don’t know how I actually forced myself to get on that coach. But I did and it literally changed my life.
After a long journey to London full of anxiety and a little voice in my head screaming for me to just turn around and go home; I got out of the car, grabbed my things (more like heaved the mini wardrobe and million packed bags) and made my way inside. The room was full of newbies and also a little group of returners (name for people who have already done a season) who looked so cool in their Planks hoodies compared to me in my Jack Wills jumper. I’m still cringing at myself. Anyway, we all got chatting and before we knew it; we had arrived in France. After a trip on the ferry and a 20 hour coach journey of course.
We arrived in a resort called Val D’Isere for a week of training and honestly, it was the most insane week imaginable. This is where you meet everyone, meet your team, make friends, learn that actually - you’ll probably never be in a room of such like minded people again (unless you do another season of course), drink a lot, dance a lot, let go of life and start to enter the ‘season bubble’ and you’ll also learn actual rep stuff that you’ll need to be able to do your job - but you’ll forget this by the end of the week so that’s not important.
At the end of the fun (and work) filled week, once you’ve put on a few pounds and built the foundations of lifelong friendships, you make your way to your very own resort. We rocked up to the little bus area in Les Arcs and saw our home for the first time. It was so ugly. We then made our way to our accomm (season word for apartment) and again, it was ugly. When I say ugly, I mean horrifically small, dirty, stained and the bathroom was bright red and completely plastic. But… I walked over to the window, opened the vile curtains to reveal the most incredible view I have ever seen in my entire life. It was in that moment, I knew I had made the biggest and best decision of my life so far. It was my first euphoric moment. Euphoric moments are moments that happen a few times throughout the entire season where the view or the situation you’re in, takes over your entire being and nothing else in the world matters. It’s the most overwhelming, emotional, fulfilling feeling in the world. Potentially like having your first child but I mean, I wouldn’t know. So the point of the euphoric thing is, be prepared for some of the best moments of your life thus far.
Fast forwarding a couple of weeks worth of training, learning your resort, building such strong friendships with your team, getting to know suppliers and more importantly - bar staff, settling in etc. You’ll then come across your first season blues. You’ll start to miss home, English people, your family and friends, your own room. You’'ll be tired, over whelmed, over-worked, hungover, chubby and you’ll begin to realise you actually don’t ski as much as you thought you would. But fear not, this passes. To fill you in with season blues - you’ll get ‘mid-season blues’ which are mentally quite a struggle. You feel like you’ve been there forever and you still have such a long way to go. You’ll then get ‘end of season blues’ which are where you basically just want to go home. But then, you’ll be back in England before you know it and you’ll soon have ‘season blues’ again but this time, it’s because you would do anything to be back on the slopes, half cut from frozen pints.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that a season is f*****g hard. Mentally, physically and emotionally. You’ve literally upped and left all of your loved ones, you’re in a weird country where you can’t just have a normal cup of tea (they don’t have PG Tips and the boiling point is different up there so all in all, tea is vile), you’re exhausted from 20 hour transfer days and multiple nights out throughout the week and pretty much just feeling hard done by.
In between all of that crap. You meet the best customers ever who bring you treats (the sight of Cadbury choc will make your heart skip a beat), you learn sooooo many life skills it’s actually crazy, you get to spend five months being paid to live up on a mountain, you get to ski all the time, you get to dance on tables with insane music - in your ski boots, you get to explore little near by towns, you get to drive a car on the other side of the road around a mountain, you get to live with your new best friends/family, you get to go out as much as you choose to, you build rapport with all of the suppliers meaning free drinks and meals, you get to eat pizza ALL THE TIME, you get to stand at the top of the mountain and look out at the most mind-blowing views… the list goes on and on and on. But most importantly from my experience; I got to learn who am, I became so confident - I could stand up in front of so many people and do welcome speeches without batting and eye lid, I learned how to push past all of my fears, I learned that I was so much stronger than I thought, I even got in a helicopter and flew over the alps and parapented off the side of a mountain regardless of the fact I hate heights, I drove a skidoo at night - off piste! I mean, I could keep listing but I’m sure you get the idea.
In summary, a season is hard work and so many times you’ll want to just hop on the next flight home. But the good really does out weigh the bad. The euphoric moments will be like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. My only advice as a returner is this… make sure you make the most of of every single day. It’s easy to get into a routine of work, lying in bed, work, going out. But, try to get out skiing as much as poss or just walk around the resort. I used to sneak into the gym/pool of my hotel (sorry Chalet Des Neiges) to have a bit of time to myself and recharge. But literally just enjoy it because it goes by sooo much faster than you can imagine.
That was pretty much a novel so I’ll stop here. I’m going to be doing quite a few posts on seasons/skiing as I have loads of general tips and tricks, resort knowledge, tips on what to pack and basically just everything I wish I knew when I did my first one. Also, even if you aren’t doing a season, hopefully these will still be quite entertaining to read.
See you in the next one,