On the 11th April, 19 pupils and 4 staff travelled to the Ski Resort of La Thuile in Northern Italy. The trip had been planned for 14 months and the pupils were extremely excited at departure on Saturday morning.

We drove to Dover and caught a ferry, travelling overnight through France. We arrived in La Thuile twenty hours later following a long, difficult journey. On arrival, we were fitted with our skis and boots and those that had hired kit went to try on their suits and helmets. We ate a three course meal at dinner (pasta) and had the rest of the afternoon to explore the small village. Some of the pupils were disappointed that they could see so little snow on the mountains; being so late in April and so close to the end of the ski season, the snow on lower ground had all but disappeared. It set our pupils up for a real surprise for the first day on the mountain.
Sunday night saw Jack Wild's team win the quiz at 'Quiz night'.

On Monday morning, all pupils were up before they needed to be, excited about the day ahead. Breakfast started everyday with croissants and juice or hot chocolate before we headed off to ski school. The pupils were sorted into 3 separate groups depending on the level of their experience and we headed to the mountain. Little did the pupils realise that once we had travelled in the gondola to the top of the mountain, they would see some real snow!!! The top of the mountain had 145cm of snow and the group were taken aback by the views of the mountains and the heat from the sun in what they expected to be freezing conditions. With much sun cream applied, the first lessons started with a basic lesson on controlling the skis. Most of the group took to it like 'ducks to water'. By lunchtime, we had mostly grasped the ability to stop and turn under control.

Lunch was taken on the mountain at one of the many purpose built restaurants. With a wide range of options available, most pupils chose the 'Italian option' and had a pizza or pasta for lunch. Another two hours of skiing after lunch meant that by the end of the day, all pupils had a basic understanding of what they had to do to make progress and had had a go at a chair or button lift. Those who had skied before spent the day impressing their instructor with synchronised skiing and some 'human' slaloms.

Straight after skiing, the pupils returned to their rooms to get ready for some 'bum boarding'. They spent the next two hours sledging down a blue run on their sledges, trying to avoid falling off which was done by some, more successfully than others. After another three course dinner (pasta) the pupils were exhausted and settled down to watch a film, some falling asleep way before the end.

After some downtime on Monday evening, the party were up and ready to go again on Tuesday morning for another 4 hours of lessons and lunch on the mountain. Everyone was making excellent progress! The experienced skiers worked on the harder routes whilst the new skiers tried to work up to parallel turns. After another three-course dinner (and pasta again!), the group showed signs of real exhaustion so we settled down to a second film and another early night.

Wednesday and Thursday saw the weather change quite dramatically and the mountain was cold with a biting wind. Despite this, we stepped up to the challenge and huge progress was made, the new skiers (after many falls) were now starting to be able to ski more difficult runs and using parallel turns. The experienced skiers had skied all the way to France and skied across the border during the day - a once in a lifetime opportunity that they couldn't wait to tell us about on their return. Pupils were achieving huge personal goals every day, skiing steep runs and taking risks outside their own comfort zones and recognising their own and each other's achievements along the way. Friendships got tighter and the trust and support between the group was outstanding whilst they assisted each other to make progress in unknown territory.

Two more 'après ski' activities were completed (swimming and ice skating). During the ice skating it was lovely to see the youngest pupils being taught by the older pupils, over coming the social boundaries and showing real group cohesion. On Thursday night we went to a disco with two other schools, our pupils were a credit to us! Our pupils dominated the dance floor and without doubt won the 'battle of the schools' dance off with ease – that was just the staff! 

Friday saw more excellent progress and whilst the advanced group completed hard red runs mixed with short black runs, the new skiers faced their first hard red runs and completed them with ease, one group hitting the jumps on the way down! Another (PASTA!) dinner later, presentation night came along and all pupils were presented with a badge and a certificate that indicated the level of progress they had made, most pupils finished between a level 2 merit and a level 5. During the presentation, there was a real sense of pride in their own achievements and those of others that was felt by the whole party. Each pupil was congratulated by their instructor and by the resort coordinator – a proud moment for our staff.

On Saturday, the party had their last 4 hours on the slopes, a final chance to perfect their new skills. Many snow balls were thrown (especially at staff!) and at the end of the day, the whole party came off the slopes buzzing about their experiences. Jacob Walton (Year 10) described his experience as 'absolutely phenomenal'. After all equipment was returned and packing completed, we had another (pasta) 3 course dinner and then got on the coach for a 20 hour return journey.

We were extremely proud of the behaviour and attitude of all of the pupils – they were a real credit to the school. Many of the resort staff commented on their excellent behaviour and positive approach to the week.

A new gallery of photos from the trip can be seen below. Please click on an image to enlarge it.

Miss L Griffiths

Ski Trip Leader

PE Department

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