There's nowhere to hide in a bright red uniform
14.12.2008 -4 °C
Friday was our first day without too much to do. There has still been no snow and it is only thanks to the snow makers that the main run will be open for the weekend. We were up quite early to go and see Estela about our payroll paperwork in order to get our staff passes for the hill and, as importantly, to ensure we get paid! We took our boards up to take advantage of the free waxing for instructors and met a nice telemark skiier, Steve who works in the repair shop.
After the first board wax
The paperwork took a bit of time but we were back on our way home (the 5 minute walk, which we had driven) by about 11. We aren't just lazy though, we had brought the car up for a reason. We took it onto the main car park to test out driving on snow and using the 4x4. It felt ok but then I was still driving pretty slowly, but you could feel the extra power needed when you get into slightly deeper snow (like 4-5cm). Christian's attitude to an empty car park was a little more gung-ho than mine and whilst I'm sure it always feels a bit faster as a passenger he managed to drift around one of his turns. He did however use a cunning bit of counter steering and an innocent facial expression to try and hide it from me (didn't work!).
Feeling a bit happier about moving our half tonne behemoth, we headed home for some inactivity. We spent our relaxed afternoon hanging posters to make the place a bit more "us" and even received a mail from the landlords allowing us to hang up the antlers, so at some point soon we will have our own Christmas coat rack on display (having brought them all the way over from England this is good news).
In the afternoon we drove into town to do a massive food shop so our house would be full of good things to eat. Browsing up and down the aisles, we were shocked when we heard a women telling us to get out the way as she was coming through. A rude person in Canada! It can't be! We looked up with an expression of shock and anger to find that the rude lady was infact Liana who was laughing away. Phew, it still looks like all Canadians are nice. We bought all the essentials such as: cereal, milk, chicken, rice, pasta etc. as well as some foods from the non-essential but never the less tasty category: pancake mix, maple syrup, marshmallows and tim-tams! Laden with bags we headed home, smug in the knowledge that this time it would be Troy and not us lugging our shopping up the hill.
In Canada food is sold in big portions
The rest of the day was pretty mellow, with some preparation and an early night for our first day at work tomorrow.
Happy Birthday Adam and Glen I hope you had a good one.
Shakespear getting ready for lessons tomorrow!
Saturday 13th: -16 C, snowy!
At last the gods of snow have answered our prayers and we woke to see over a foot of snow covering the back garden. We made sure to grab our pack lunches (as we have no money at all at the moment) and a mug each so we can get our free hot chocolate.
As we had walked up to the front of the house we saw poor Troy covered in snow, his box was full of snow and he was wearing a very tall white hat on his cab. We'd have to dig him out later or we'd be late for work. It was also a lot colder that previous days and as we walked up to work in our jeans, hats and coats carrying our snowboards, the thin woollen gloves we were wearing didn't quite do the job and so we ended up wearing our snowboard boots as gloves instead.
Poor Troy all covered in snow
When we got in we went to the lockers and put on our uniforms. We felt a bit like fakes as we walked around with the respect and recognition of being staff and high level snowboarders (oh God what happens when we fall over!).
Christian and Sarah in our uniforms
Despite the nights dump, it was still not enough to open any more runs and so the hill was pretty empty. Therefore no private lessons at 9am. Instead we went up the hill with Dan and Trevor, our new work colleagues, for a bit of a free ride. The snow was not that great and the light was pretty flat so it was hard to see the hills contours, which didn't help us to feel more confident on our first run.
Glowing like beacons in our full red costumes we tried not to look like novice riders to the guests on the lift or the other guys we were riding with. I still went a bit slower than the rest as I needed to get back the snow legs before I'd feel confident with speed and you don't want to injure yourself on day one. Ooops, spoke too soon! As I looked up Christian disappeared over a powdery lip at the side of the run and didn't reappear. Going a lot slower I approached the lip and as I hit the powder I could feel that just under the surface was a pile of boulders, not nice. I peered over the edge and Christian was sat up (good sign) but holding his head and looking a bit bashed up (not so good). He had hit one of the boulders and fallen into the snow on his head and his neck was feeling a bit squashed.
Fortunatly he was up again and not hurting too much but we said we'd see how it felt in half an hour. We rode all the way down and headed up for a second lap. Still the legs felt a bit wobbly, I hope no one was watching.
At the end of this run Dan had a lesson to teach and it was getting a bit chilly so we went in for free hot chocolate round 1. As a precaution we decided to use the time before the next bell (that's the times we meet outside to pick up new lessons) to get Chris' neck checked out by snow patrol. The conclusion was that he's not too broken but to stay off the hill to check it didn't get worse. This seemed like an opportune moment for free hot chocolate round 2.
As we were off the snow already we decided to try and meet our commitment to speak to 3 guests a day, and our own commitment to speak to other staff. So we got chatting to Lisa in the coffee shop (made sure the person letting us have free hot chocolate was on side) and Mitch the liftie (lifties always hate instructors as we get to ride whilst they stand out in the cold so thought we'd let them know we're quite nice really). We then saw Steve the wax guy and as we'd spotting him shredding the hill on his telemarks earlier we said hey. He introduced us to Abi his girlfriend, which was a double bonus as a) she was not staff and so she counted as one of our 3 a day and b) she is in marketing for the houses being built just up from ours so she can let us have a nosey around. We made a deal that if we send guests to look at her properties she'll tell people that they should get private lessons with us! Finally we met Paul, a ski instructor from Nottingham.
The main run on the way up the lift
At the next bell Liana took us out for a recap on beginner progression. It is all pretty easy and the quick reminder made us feel more confident about getting out there and teaching people. It wasn't getting any warmer and my toes were starting to feel a bit numb so I was trying to jump around a bit and as we came off the bunny hill for a last big run down before lunch they weren't coming back to life.
Down for lunch and I took my boots off, it was the beginnings of frost bite and Liana suggested that I stay off the hill for the rest of the day. It was beginning to get embarassing, what a disaster area the 2 of us were looking like on day one.
After lunch Christian shadowed a lesson, whilst I just stood around. I watched Dan and Liana's lessons for some hints and tips and checked out boot warmers in the shop. Lets hope my toes haven't fallen off by the time I get some money in my account. Even managed to chat to another guest, 2 down and 1 to go.
Whilst Sarah pottered around the resort observing lessons and keeping warm, I shadowed one of Lianas lessons. It was with a single Australian guy who was not absolutely rubbish. It was nice to see how a true beginner can progress from wobbly on a board and unconfident to do anything, through the first few stages of beginner progression. It really got me excited to teach as he was clearly excited to be learning and found it beneficial. It was also a good excuse to talk to him as one of the guests and also some of the other beginners who were learning on the bunny slope. Three guests down, target achieved! I'm now really looking forward to more shadowing or teaching on my own even if I'm still a bit nervous.
Once Christian's lesson was over we went inside to get changed and drunk free hot chocolate round 3 (how many free hot chocolates is taking the mickey?). Then we went upstairs to the Stemwinder bar to see some of the other instructors. But as we had no money for a drink and Christian's neck was in need of some TLC we soon went home for a hot tub.
A tasty dinner of bangers and mash
After the hot tub we had a warming dinner of sausage, mash and gravy and as a treat for dessert we had ice cream and maple syrup. This would have been the perfect end to the day except, whilst serving out the ice cream, I decided to lick the ice cream scoop and got my lip frozen to it, which bled when I ripped it off. I won't be doing that again! (Yes she will!)
Sunday 14th: -24C sunny
As our second day of work began we knew it would be cold as we had been told yesterday. The temperature was supposed to be dropping to chilly -24, partially due to the complete lack of clouds. So we walked to work under blue skys wrapped up extra warm. Not warm enough! Within minutes of leaving the house both of our hair had frozen solid and my moustache had turned into an icy mess. So looking like jack frost himself we arrived at work and got into our uniforms again.
A Frozen Face
Walking out into the meeting place to find out if there were any lessons today, we met up with Liana. She revealed that the inhabitants of Kimberley were sensible people and had decided to stay home in their cosy beds. Not only were there no lessons this morning but we didn't even see any guests for the first half of the day. So instead of taking us out into the freezing weather Liana took us inside to show us the rental board setup that most of our students would be riding on. We saw this as a golden opportunity for, you guessed it, free hot chocolate!
This was also the moment when we met two of the part-time snowboard instructors, Eric and Krystal. Having finished of the demo and our hot chocolate, we went of for our first run of the day. It was nice to be back on the board again and our snow legs were begining to return, but we were all thankful to get down to the much lower, and therefore warmer, beginner slope.
Liana, our boss and a load of the ski insructors try to keep warm
The other snowboard instructors
We started heading through more of the progression and were very happy to find all of the knowledge and skills coming back fairly quickly. However we still wanted to practice tuning down our riding for the demos, and so when Liana told us that we had an hour and a half free until lunch, thats what we did. Playing around with our demos and some park riders progression we lapped the magic carpet (the travelator for beginners) until our toes were beginning to go numb. This was the sign for lunch.
But it was not meant to be. Heading into the staff room for lunch we were grabbed by Liana who had taken it upon herself to reorganise the staff room so more people could sit down in it. As Sarah got suckered into shifting furniture around, I started making lunch. It wasn't until half way through microwaving the thickest soup known to man that Sarah came and checked on the progress. Quickly pointing out that the word 'Concentrate' took up most of the front of the can I realised I had made a mistake in not reading the instructions. However some ladeling here and there and a top up of hot water solved the problem and we were soon sipping on delicious hot tomato soup.
Christian in the cold and Steezy Sarah
The afternoon saw us finish of the progression and another hot chocolate before being released for the day. Now free until the resort open for good on friday we headed home. It was a quick turnaround however as we wanted to get into town before shops shut so we could buy Troy a cable for his block heater. We were worried about leaving him out in the cold, so wanted to plug him in so his oil didn't freeze overnight. This required us to shovel about a foot of snow of him, and more impotantly, the driveway before we could leave.
Shovelling the driveway
A foot of snow in Troy's box
We got into town just in time to find out the hardware store closed an hour ago and so we took the chance to finish of our shopping for ingredients for Christmas dinner and buy the all important tree. Loaded up with festive goodies we headed back home, and having been twarted to buy a block heater cable we instead put Troy in the garage. This was not as easy as it sounds as neither me nor Sarah have ever tried to park in a garage with the same volume as the vehicle we were parking.
Along the Platzl
A scraper for the car and a tin for cake making
We soon managed it and still feeling the festive spirit we spent the rest of our evening making snowflakes out of paper and cooking a yummy stir fry.