Over the February half term 34 students embraced the opportunity to travel to Niederau, Austria for the school ski trip. For many, this was the first time that they had ever skied and judging by the feedback already received it will not be the last time that they pull on a pair of salopettes or clip on the uncomfortable ski boots.

The trip began on Friday 16th February with an arduous 20 hour journey to the Alps, made more bearable by watching films and eating a McDonald’s breakfast en route. However despite the long journey, the excitement of a week’s skiing was soon realised as the group pulled up outside Pension Klausenhof amidst layers and layers of snow. Skis and boots were soon assembled and after an early night the skiers were ready to hit the slopes on Sunday morning.

The first morning showed exactly how many first time skiers were within the group, with some unable to clip boots up, carry skis or tighten their goggles – something that they would all become accustomed to in a very short space of time. The children then met their instructors, who I must say made an excellent impression on both the children and staff over the course of the week and the skiing commenced. There were plenty of falls and tumbles as the children became accustomed to their new surroundings, however the progress was clear and by the end of the day many of the first timers were steady on their feet.

Day two brought the best weather and some of the views from the top of the mountain were nothing short of spectacular. With the improved weather came improved confidence and the instructors were impressed with how much progression had been made in such a short space of time. Some of the intermediate group were now parallel turning down red routes and the advanced group took the good weather as an opportunity to attack the black runs on the other side of the mountain. There was one sour note to such a great day as Charlie Ong fell and broke his collar bone, meaning that his holiday had to come to a premature end. In the evening the group took a sleigh ride into the mountains, finishing at a local farm house which provided warm drinks on a bitterly cold evening.

Days three and four saw a return of the snowy conditions and the tired legs of the children were beginning to show as some took tumbles but showed good resilience to bounce back up. The beginner groups were now able to take the gondola to the top of the mountain, with some of them finding the courage and skill to ski to the bottom. The advanced group had an attempt at hitting the speed gun track, with Declan Dorey reaching an impressive speed of over 50mph. At the end of day three some took the opportunity to use the hotel’s swimming pool before all students took part in a quiz, hosted by glamorous quiz-master, Miss Ellis. Team captain Libby Strachan led her team of Eden Morgan, Carter Gagg and Bella Farrell to victory with some excellent general knowledge. Day four’s evening was completed at the local pizza parlour, where empty stomachs were greeted by plenty of carbohydrates ready for the final day of skiing.

Despite the tiredness all of the children took part in the final morning of skiing, which started with a slalom race directed by the four ski instructors. Each group had a mini competition and it was fantastic to see every skier finish the course. The level of skill showed significant improvement since day one and the nerves that were apparent on Sunday appeared to be gone – even if some were playing their best poker faces. Mr Tyler’s group was led in by Declan Dorey in first place, with Zara Edeleanu and Emily Munday in second and third respectively. James Bance won the competition in Miss Ellis’ group and Richard Lenkovskij Zatysev did likewise in Mr Lavery’s team. Nondas Palaiokrassas was the victor in Mr Gibson’s group and he was also voted by the teachers as most improved skier over the week. The closing part of the day allowed the children to ski some final runs before the trip was over, with some of the intermediate group tackling their first black route of the week.

Having seen the enjoyment on the slopes, I’m sure that many of the children would jump at the opportunity to go skiing again and it was encouraging to hear the instructors praising the group for their improvement over the short time period. I’d like to add my thanks to Mr Lavery, Mr Gibson and Miss Ellis for their hard work and dedication over the past week, along with the two coach drivers James and Stu for continuously assisting us and having the unenvious task of driving us to and from Austria.

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