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Now the summer solstice has passed, the longest day of the year was three weeks ago, we now have the shorter days of winter to look forward to. The peak time of year to organise, plan and book ski holidays is now upon us.
With that in mind I took to thinking what can I do this winter to make sure I'm fit enough to make the most of a week in the mountains? My pre-season trip last December finished early with a damaged ACL in my right knee, so this year I want to make sure everything is in full working order before I go.
As I'm not a gym bunny, and many of us aren't, I decided to go down the doughnut-friendly and non-scientific route. After a few conversations with the Igluski experts and the help of Iglu's friends and fans from Facebook and Twitter, I have come up with a few helpful tips on getting ready for your skiing holiday. Some of these activities need months of practice, others can be taken up a few weeks before you leave.
Now skiing holidays don't merely involve skiing, there is also the three course meals, carb cravings and the odd après ski drink to prepare yourself for. Not all of us have the ability to eat Christmas dinner proportions of food, followed by skiing the next day for a whole week.
So it may only be July, and the only skiing or boarding I'm likely to do over the next five months will be at one of the fridges in Milton Keynes or Hemel Hempsted, but it's seems as good a time as any to let the training begin.
So where to start?
Bend it like Beckham One of the first suggestions we had was to try Yoga or Pilates, as they are good for core strength and flexibility. And according the Brad Friedel, yoga is the reason he is still a top goalkeeper at 39. Ok so football isn't exactly skiing, but 'keepers spend a lot of time either in the air or throwing themselves onto the floor, and that I can relate to!
Head to your local dry slope Instead of handing over £20 to ride the carpet like slopes, another suggestion we had involves both exercise and a real commitment to skiing. Help relay the slope's dendex, this way you experience manual labour, to burn off the summer's ice-creams, and the added benefit of getting in a few turns afterwards.
On you bike One of the most popular suggestions is among the most cost efficient and easiest. Either jump on your bike or get your trainers on and go for a run.
Don't take the lift Burn off a few more calories and stretch those leg muscles by taking the stairs instead of lifts or escalators, another free exercise for most office workers or commuters on London's Underground.
Work those hands My personal favourite. Our in-house ski instructor, August, suggested a great way to improve your ski pole grip is to... squeeze limes. Yes that's right squeezing citrus fruit is good for skiing!
Get your drinking jacket on According to our sales manager AJ drinking two shots of Jaegermeister a day after work will improve your après ski fitness.
Another colleague in the Iglu team mentioned the biggest mistake he ever made was having two weeks without drinking before a holiday. During which his ESF instructor plied him with a little too much Genepy one lunch, writing off his afternoon on the slopes.
So there you have it. Take a yoga class, use the stairs, go for a run and squeeze some lime into your pre-holiday drink. Now there's a training plan even I could handle.
Written by Stephen Adam
Organising a group ski holiday is a time consuming activity and can be a real pain in the backside. You would think that a group of ten grown adults would be easy to please but the reality is a very different story.
For the past couple years I have been given the task of organising the bi-annual ski trips. As I work in the industry, and have done multiple seasons, my friends felt that I had the experience to make this nice and easy, so I happily volunteered. The first job is always to find out who can travel and when. With dates limited to December and March for most the group that made it a little easier and I managed to pin down New Year for the first trip and a pre-Easter trip in mid-March. Brilliant, job one done. New Year is just about the busiest time of year to go skiing and when you have three accountants coming on holiday, getting them to spend money is akin to getting a Premier League manager to agree with referees!
With the budget finally sorted this was looking like plane sailing from here on in, all I had to do was find the right resort, right property and the right flights. Now this is where it gets a little difficult with most the party traveling form London and a handful in the Midlands this should be easy, but when you have people who will only travel from one airport and these don't match, it becomes a little harder. I had to find a way of getting two people out of Heathrow, two out of Stansted, two out of Gatwick with two more 'happy to do whatever' then two from Birmingham and a possible Dublin flight for good measure.
After much debate, banging of heads and thoughts from the group the answer presented itself. My hopes of an nice easy package from Gatwick for ten people had been dashed to at least the first trip. In the end after speaking to a few operators I had the perfect solution for the accommodation - the independent chalet operator. We found a great chalet company in Morzine, only an hour from Geneva, that offered chalets, with transfers, right in the middle of the resort; perfect. The next thing was to look at flights, by going through a travel agent, we were able to book scheduled flights from all the required airports and even managed to land within an hour of each other, perfect for the included transfer and for traveling to resort together.
The next challenge was to convince people that I had found the right resort and property. This was a little more difficult as I had advanced skiers wanting a large ski area, party animals hoping for St. Anton, beginners needing good instructors and easy slopes and a random Les Arc fan fighting his corner. The resorts in the mix were St. Anton, Meribel, Val d'Isere & Les Arc. After a little persuading and a few dummies being spat we agreed that Morzine would be perfect. 600km of piste in the Portes du Soleil, short transfers, chilled Apres but lively nightlife (perfect for New Years Eve) and the all important charming instructors for the beginners.
Several weeks in we had now agreed on dates and a resort. Next thing was where to stay, some people wanted 5* chalets with hot tubs, others wanted warm food and a bed near to the bars. This is where it gets really difficult to find a property, through some friends in resort and several phone calls we managed to agree on a chalet in the centre of town with a sauna.
Had we done this alone we would have had to call every company under the sun, booked all our own flights and transfers and had anything gone wrong we would have been stuck as this was not a package holiday. This is where using a travel agent to orgainse the holiday comes in handy, I was able to book the flights, chalet and transfers all through them. Not only did this offer protection, for example if the operator went under or the flights were cancelled, it also made life easier. Rather than maxing out credit cards and chasing people for money everything was sorted for us. All I had to do was to get everyone to call in and pay their deposits and balances separately.
So far so good, holiday one booked. With New Year being so popular it was very handy indeed to have managed to arrange everything by June. This gave the group time to book the week off, pay their balances and save for a week in the mountains.
Though it's hard work, being the group leader is worth the effort. This season I have a much easier job, we are almost ready to book one of three chalets in either La Tania or Meribel on a package holiday again and knowing that when multiple airports are needed a trip to an independent chalet company in a resort like Morzine is on the cards again for the main group holiday.
Written by Stephen Adam.
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