Slope Stories - North wales Snowsports Club

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Slope Stories - North Wales Snowsports Club

October 28, 2017

This is Sarah (and her son Finn's) story about what their dry slope and the North Wales Snowsports Club has meant to them over the years. It just reinforces the integral part our dry slopes play in developing the skiers (or snowboarders) of tomorrow.

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"Our initial journey with North Wales Ski Club (NWSC) started on the slopes of Saint Gervais.  As we stepped out onto the sunny plateau from the cable car it was evident that ski holidays wouldn’t be the same for a while.  The initial adult faff of doing up boots, finding gloves and attaching skis before whizzing off on some snowy piste, was suddenly taken over by the discussions and debate with a 2 year old who was having a melt down over wearing a pair of sunglasses in the glaring sun.  This was one of many stand offs on Finn’s first adventure to the Alps and this was going to have to change.

Our personal journey before the arrival of Finn was many visits to the Alps and Pyrenees to enjoy the piste and off piste with friends.  The thoughts of continuing this, seemed a little struggle until we met a coach and acquaintance from NWSC, who suggested we took him along.  Many years previously, Finn’s dad had taken his first steps on the slopes of Plas Y Brenin and gained his level 1 coach with the support of Jayne. Now it was Finn’s turn.

I would like to paint a picture of snowy slopes, picturesque views and sunny climate for his first time on skis but this was not to be.  The weather was a North Wales’ special, rainy cold and windy and the beautiful views of Snowdon lost to the low cloud.  This didn’t dampen Gareth’s enthusiasm to share his love of skiing with his son. Finn did well to persevere for 10 minutes with the ‘moon boots’ and ‘2 planks’ on his feet, not to mention gloves and a helmet. It is hard to imagine a 2 year old putting up with wearing the gear that we as adults take for granted.

The following weeks took a regular pattern of visiting the club on a Saturday and/or Sunday, Gareth carrying Finn up the slope for him to begin to slide down independently.  Some days we were faced with beautiful sunny skies and views to rival any European ski venue! Finn’s progression of skills would not have occurred without the perseverance and positive attitude of all staff but especially Jayne.  It is hard to encourage a 2 year old to put his hands on his needs when he has only just learnt where his knees are and a short attention span, but she managed to do this consistently.  By his 3rd birthday, Finn had learnt to use the ski tow, much to the relief of his dad as now he didn’t need to be carried up the slope.  But now dad spent every session running up and down reigning Finn down the slope, it certainly kept him fit!

We booked a ski holiday for the Christmas holidays and this spurred us on to give Finn more slope experience.  NWSC has so many sessions to offer us and sometimes we would visit twice a week.  When it came to the fresh powder that the Pyrenees had to offer, we couldn’t have been more grateful.  We didn’t have to worry about putting on the correct gear but just the coldness of the flakes falling from the ski.  Once this was accepted and a few hot chocolates later, it didn’t take long for us to explore what our ski resort had to offer.  Finn’s confidence grew and enjoyed the feeling of skiing on real snow.  We quickly had to teach a 3 year old the importance of stopping and listening as he wanted to go very fast!

Finn was excited to return back to NWSC to share his new techniques with Jayne and ready to learn more. It also inspired us to book another holiday! Which made everybody happy.

At first I thought NWSC, would be a place Finn learnt to ski and then we would go on holidays with this being our main goal but it is much more than that.  It is a family of like minded people, wanting to teach children to ski and enjoy a sport in a positive way.  Everybody revels in the achievements of all children and adults. 

NWSC has not just given Finn the skills to cruise down blues and reds (faster than myself soon) but helped to develop him as a person.  His confidence in himself has improved and his perseverance.  He is learning to communicate with lots of different adults and listen to advice and then act on this which is a hard act for a now 4 year old.

But most of all he has fun! 

The commitment of all the volunteers is continuously evident.  From excellent coaching of people of all ages, fundraising for the club,  to ‘gardening’ and maintenance of the slope.  I know that our experience of skiing wouldn’t be as positive as it is, without these wonderful people.  And now it’s Finn’s sister Isla’s turn, this time she is only 22 months but she can shuffle along the bottom of the slope with her ‘planks’ on.  Good luck Jayne and the team with your newest challenge… and thank you!"

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