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Ski Blog

Skiing History — Morgedal, The Birthplace of Skiing?

clock 22nd November 2012 | comment0 Comments

Many resorts claim to be the birthplace of skiing, including St. Moritz and St. Anton. Morgedal in Norway, has a pretty good claim too — and with skiing being a mode of transport during winter in parts of the country, I reckon it's a pretty good shout out. So, here's what they had to say on the matter.

Morgedal is the birthplace of skiing, or to be more correct, snow sport.

People have used skiing as a mode of transport for over 4000 years. However in the 1800s, downhill skiing as we know it today was influenced like never before by Sondre Norheim from Morgedal. A charismatic character who changed ski design and gave us the world's first carving ski and full heel binding. Where he lived and the terrain he grew up with inspired him to develop skis and new techniques — just for the rush of downhill skiing.

Jazz-lovers flock to New Orleans, Elvis fans congregate in Memphis, ski enthusiasts travel to the little mountain valley of Morgedal. What do they all have in common? The search for the original... Maybe it is time you took the skiers' pilgrimage to Morgedal — no flashy chairlifts, ritzy bars or designer ski wear, just the world's first slalom slopes and a valley where people have always loved to ski.

The Birthplace of Skiing

Sondre Norheim was a poor farm labourer. Born in Morgedal in 1825, in a part of Norway where in there is heavy snowfall during winter, skiing had always been an integral part of his daily life. Skis were traditionally used as the main form of transport and for hunting, collecting wood in the forests, social visits and for generally getting around on the steep, snow-covered slopes.

Sondre — a skilled craftsman and athletic figure — changed the way people saw skiing: He designed and made skis which enabled skiers to tackle the slopes in ways never seen before. He also used a new heel binding design which held the ski firmly to the foot. Skiing became playful and he demonstrated feats of skiing never seen before. Playful, charismatic and always out skiing — around him the ski culture in Morgedal developed in the 1860s, growing into a thing of legend.

It is from Morgedal that ambassadors would go out and start the world's first ski school in Oslo, before going on into America and Europe — taking their new skis and technique with them. From transport to sport, skis were now being used for the pure joy of the downhill, jumping and racing to the bottom of the snowy hills; it was the dawn of modern snow sport.

Here in Morgedal in this unassuming little valley you can rediscover this pure, original ski experience.



Warren Miller's Flow State

clock 16th November 2012 | comment2 Comments

Last night I was lucky enough to be at the London premiere of Flow State, Warren Miller's 63rd film — and my favourite to date.

As always with the Warren Miller tour, the whole evening was great fun. There was a drinks reception sponsored by Asahi beer — which went down well — goody bags, that included ski locks, wax and stress balls, and the always popular prizes — featuring a Warren Miller suitcase and a pair of Rossignol world cup skis.

But, you don't want to hear about that, you want to hear about the film.

Flow State is my favourite Warren Miller film to date, the overall feel of the film seems to have changed and the abundance of powder keep the 400 strong crowd wowing and whooping the whole way through. As this is my favourite installation of the film to date, I'm not going to ruin it telling you about the best lines, funniest comments and sickest tricks, as you really need to watch it for yourself.

Warren Miller might not be doing anything ground breaking with Flow State, but the skiing, the snow and the atmosphere of the film are all great — you even get to see narrator Jonny Moseley doing some '80s skiing. There are steeps in Alaska throughout the film, a trip to Stavanger, some Japaneasy powder-filled tree-lined skiing and a fantastic section on Murren.

Watching ski films often make you awe at the impossible, but Flow State has firmly put Murren at the top of my To Ski list, and is a damn site more achievable that heli-skiing in the Tordrillo's!

So, stop reading reviews of the film and go and watch it, if you are lucky there may be a few tickets left to this year's tour!



How to Become A Ski Instructor — Part 3

clock 13th November 2012 | comment0 Comments

In part three ICE instructor trainer, Mark Jones, talks us through the different ways to complete your ski instructor training. If you haven't already read them, check our part one and part two first.

Route 1 - Residential Course

ICE offers a wide range of fasttrack courses from our base in Val d'Isere during winter and on the glacier in Tignes in the summer. The fasttrack courses provide all the modules listed in part 1 and 2, including the required amount of hours experience. The fasttrack course is designed so that when you have completed the course, you have everything you need to go and start working the following day — and many people do just that.

The courses also include accommodation, evening meals and a lift pass, so everything is taken care of and the hassle is removed. Below is a summary of the residential courses and clicking them will lead you to more information on each course.

  • 10 Week Gap Course: BASI Level 1 and 2, all modules included. Course finishes in time for Easter holidays.
  • 6 Week Gap Course: BASI Level 1 and 2, all modules included. Course finishes in time for February half-term.
  • 4 Week Gap Course: BASI Level 1, all modules included.
  • 6 Week Summer Gap Course: BASI Level 1 and 2, all modules included. Course finishes in time for work the following winter.
  • Route 2 - Independent Courses

    If you do not have time to benefit from a residential course, you can do these modules listed above for Level 1 and 2 separately in your own time. Typically it will take at least a ski season to do them all, or maybe longer depending on the amount of time you can commit to courses and required training.

    ICE offer the BASI Level 1, BASI Level 2 and First Aid courses on an independent basis. You will need to arrange the other modules yourself and also arrange your own accommodation, food, lift-pass and travel, since courses are run on a course-only basis.

    Which Route Should I Take?

    Deciding whether to go down the residential or independent route depends mostly on the time you have to devote to a course. By the time you take into consideration the costs of travelling, accommodation and lift-passes etc, there is not much to choose between the two routes in terms of price, so your decision will largely be determined by time rather than budget.

    If you have the time to spare and feel you would benefit from the concentrated period of training that is on offer, the 10 week course will bring your level on the most.

    If time is a little more restricted and you are on more of a budget, the 6 week course will be worth looking at. This is quite simply the fastest and cheapest way of getting qualified to this. You will be qualified mid-way through the season which means you will be free to work through the second half if you wish.

    However, 6 weeks is less time in which to train so it is advisable to be at a good level before attending this course as there is less time make changes. 16 weeks on snow is a good guideline for entry onto this course, although it is only a guide and not a requirement. If you feel you would benefit from the extra training, you may be better off on the 10 week course.

    If you can only manage a week or two each season then you will be best to go down the independent route. Start by booking a BASI Level 1 course and your trainer on the course will be able to give you advice on your future training once they have seen you ski.

    It’s not all hard work!

    It may sound like a massive amount of hard work, but let’s not forget people are here with us in Val d'Isere for a life changing experience, and quite often as part of their gap year.

    You’ll get to make new friends, and there’s Val d'Isere’s legendary après ski! Your ski pass will cover you for the whole resort and days off are usually spent skiing/riding the resort's world class slopes.



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