20 April 2018
After an early wake-up call, we met at London Gatwick to start our seven-day adventure to the Alps. Our group of 40 girls and five staff eagerly boarded the plane to fly to Geneva, followed by a swift transfer of a couple of hours, past the beautiful Lake Annecy, to arrive at Les Menuires in time for lunch.
The hotel staff (including an ex-Woldingham girl who was on her gap year) welcomed us and soon has us kitted out in our ski equipment ready to start our instruction the following morning. Needless to say it was an early night to bed after a long day.
The weather was kind to us and, due to the ‘Beast from the East’, the snow conditions were amazing. The girls formed four ski groups and set off from the back door of the hotel to hit the slopes - no need to carry skies anywhere, which was a luxury!
The beginners set off tentatively with their instructor, Fabian, who showed great patience over the week, allowing them all to progress and have fun along the way. The groups had excellent instruction and we even managed to hire in a fifth instructor, Jordan, for two days who worked hard to give confidence to the more tentative intermediates. Our two advanced groups had great fun whizzing around the Three Valley Ski area - even managing a day out with the instructors so they could ski further afield; there were lots of tired legs at the end of that day.
The girls soon discovered the supermarket and continued to surprise us with the amount of extra food they consumed, even though they had three cooked meals a day at the hotel - must be the mountain air and exercise.
Après ski was fun, with a variety of sessions, including a taxing and hotly-contested French-themed quiz devised by Miss May, bum boarding in rather slushy conditions, a visit to Speed Mountain rollercoaster and crêpe night and a great smoothie-making ‘behind the bar’ experience. To top it all we even had a Best Kept Room competition, which produced a room fit for royalty by a group of Year 8 girls. We couldn’t fault them - it’s amazing what the girls will do for a chocolate bar prize.
At the end of the week we had our ski presentation, with our four trusted instructors giving out French Ski School certificates after assessing the girls during the week. Thanks to Tomack, Alan, Nicole and Fabian for being such fun all week – much to their delight, the girls made them all personalised T shirts with memorable slogans and drawings to capture their character. Our Woldingham School medals were awarded as follows: Scarlett - Best Skier, Francesca - Most Improved and Rhea - Best Beginner. Congratulations to all of them. Jada deserves a special mention for perseverance for enduring painful feet all week and, to cap it all, she broke her glasses on the first day and had to resort to wearing her prescription swimming goggles under her ski goggles! Bini and Izzy kept us busy after both falling and needing to be taken off the piste to the Medi Centre by the Blood Wagons. Luckily no permanent damage was done, and at least this happened on the second to last day, so thankfully not much skiing was missed!
Overall it was a pleasure to be Party Leader for a great bunch of girls away on a school trip. As this was my last school ski trip I can hang up my ski poles and give a sigh of relief - the girls were delightful, the resort was excellent, the hotel was perfect for our needs and the hotel staff were the best I have had on a school trip, my Woldingham Staff were ever helpful and made my job easy. In fact, everything went smoothly until…
Our return journey was not the best end to the trip, with a 28-hour delay at Geneva due to technical issues with the plane. I am proud to say that the girls were well behaved throughout and made little fuss, even though some of them were very upset about missing onward flights home from London. It was warming to see the girls rally around their friends when it became clear that seeing parents was going to a delayed and those Easter eggs would have to wait a bit longer. We were eventually bussed to a hotel for the night before returning to the airport to get our afternoon flight on Easter Sunday. I am also proud to say that the manager at the hotel was extremely impressed with our girls’ behaviour - we would, of course, expect nothing less from our girls, but it is always good to hear.
I am sure the girls will have many memories from the 2018 Ski Trip - we got more than we bargained for as our seven-day trip became eight – but, despite it all, it was a great trip.
Anyone for skiing? Next year Mr Nick Hillier has taken over as Party Leader with a trip to Sunday River, USA.
Miss Annie O’Neill