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“Be careful about conclusions you draw about people you’ve never met. I looked at the list of people and I was like, man, are you serious? This for a month? I’m actually a bit ashamed of that”. Like most comedians, funny man and snowboarding enthusiast Marcus Brigstocke is not largely known for his frank, philosophical remarks. Many will recognise the serial satirist from Have I Got News For You or Love Actually, whereas ski and comedy fans may know him from setting up the hugely successful Altitude Comedy Festival in Mayrhofen, Austria, near Innsbruck where The Jump is set. It seems the new show is bringing out a wonderful, softer side to him rarely seen with professional comedians. Obviously inspired by his experience so far, he was keen to tell me a story about his familiarity to snow sports before joining the show. “You know I used to ski years ago, and stopped all that for snowboarding which is easier and more fun. Big spongy carpet slippers, only one piece of equipment to worry about...” “There was a day that was both devastating and awesome in equal measure. My 9 year old son worked incredibly hard all week at ski school in Val D’isere. ‘I’m gonna bring you down The Face , one of the greatest ever downhill courses. I started picking up speed, and he stayed right with me. Then I was going pretty much as fast as I can go, and he said ‘am I alright to go now dad?’ and he just shot past me. It’s devastating.” Contestants, including Essex girl Amy Childs and Olympic hero Steve Redgrave, have been training hard with Warren Smith and former Team GB skeleton racer Amy Williams. It tests celebrities on Winter sport disciplines, including downhill ski and the bone-shatteringly scary skeleton bob, in which they slide down a course head first. But scariest of all is apparently ‘the jump’ itself. “The Jump is other worldly in terms of how scary it is. If you ski, you’ve probably done small kickers or little off-piste jumps, maybe hit a mogul with a bit of enthusiasm. This is different. Your ski’s get slotted in rails, and you can’t see anything you’re going to land on until you’re above it and in the air. I’m not an adrenaline junkie or anything like that…” “When I landed it I punched the air, and as soon as I was on my own, I felt tears stream down my face. I just turned to jelly and started crying. Unlike many of the other contestants, I’m still scared of the jump in a very visceral kind of way.” “Darren Gough, Laura Hamilton and Anthea Turner are fast becoming very good jumpers. Sinitta put skis on her feet for the first time a few weeks ago, and she’s been off the jump. She’s a lovely lady, but she’s not what you think of as a daredevil, adrenaline junkie or whatever - She does it with quiet determination. Same with Amy Childs, star of reality world. She learnt to ski a few weeks ago. The first day she put speed skis on, and coach said, ‘point down, tuck down, build your speed’, and she just nailed it. The video you see of her going ‘oh my god, oh my god’ – she gets a lot better than that.” The mere thought of Sinitta or Amy Childs scorpioning themselves in the head or face-planting the snow may sound like comedy gold for some sniggering viewers. But not for Brigstocke, who seems to have taken a shine to his new group of buddies. “I’m not here to collect stories on the people here. I’ll be interested to see how facing fears affects the next few stand up shows I do.” “Stand up is about exploring ideas in a fearless kind of way, but it’s a bit different to physical danger. But yeah there’ll definitely be material, if only making reference to the race suit they’ve got me in. Not a good look for a man of my size.” To many fans of Altitude, this “new material” could make an appearance at the next festival in March. “I can’t wait. A bunch of clowns up in the mountains, jumping around on our boards during the day, jumping around on stage at night... I’m out of the business side of Altitude now which suits me better. It makes me so proud that the festival is out there. This is for skiers and comedy lovers.” It’s not been all about the laughs though on set. Any sport that instigates fear of this magnitude has an element of danger – viewers may have been disappointed to see a few rumoured contestants missing in the live show on Sunday night. “There’s a couple of injuries I can’t tell you about, because we’re not sure how It’s going to affect taking part in the show. But I can tell you we’ve had Sam Jones (Flash Gordon) have his entire shoulder rebuilt. Then we have 2 broken bones possibly 3, bruising like I’ve never seen on anybody, and a ruptured hamstring I can confirm I’m in good shape though.” Injuries aside, it seems the show has brought an otherwise misfitting group of celebrities together, in what could turn out to be a great bit of TV. I ask Brigstocke what he has learnt since starting the show; “On a serious note, fears overcome makes you feel very good and those things are worth pursuing. On a further philosophical note – be careful about conclusions you draw about people you’ve never met. I looked at the list of people, and I was like, man, are you serious? This for a month? I’m actually a bit ashamed of that. These are actually really awesome people. I’ve shared with them some profound moments of overcoming some full-on fears. Oh, and I’ve learned to skeleton bob.” …and the golden question. CAN HE WIN? “It is possible. I’m not a very good jumper. Ultimately it comes down to that. With the other disciplines, I’m in the top 3. To play for the win is not what the cool boys do. I wanna win, I wanna get to the final.” By Danny
January can be a financially tight month but offers some of the best skiing of the season. With this in mind, and in our ongoing efforts to help more people hit the slopes, we've refreshed our Guide to Cheap Skiing. And if you're looking for a cheap last minute holiday be sure to check out our Top Tips for Last Minute Skiing.
Cheap ski deals are a bit of a misdemeanour as skiing is never cheap. By the time you have added your travel, accommodation, lift pass, ski hire/carriage, lessons (if needed) and food & drinks in resort, you are often lucky to get away with spending less than £1000. That's not to say that with good planning, realistic expectations and a bit of luck you can of course get a great deal, saving a small fortune.
People often flock toward the likes of Bulgaria and Andorra for a cheap ski break, but the realism is they are catching up with the rest of Europe year-on-year for price, yet the ski areas are not always as snow-sure or as challenging as the more renowned resorts. Andorra's lift pass prices are catching those of France, at £180, and the airfares to Bulgaria mean it often costs more than a cheeky week to a more renowned resort with a shorter flight.
Having taken into consideration the resort costs, including lift pass & ski hire, the holiday costs and the ski areas, I have put together an indication of where the best value cheap ski deals currently lie. There are a couple of self catered apartments, some value chalets and an all inclusive package, to give you a good indication of what to expect and where to look. Bargain hunting for cheap ski holidays starts as soon as the winter is over, so you now don't need to hold on in hope of getting a last minute deal.
To keep things fair and comparable I have looked at mid January, traditionally the cheapest time of the season where the resorts are fully open and for arguments sake have kept to London(ish) airports.
Self catered holidays can be a false economy due to the cost of food in resort, though sneaking some dry foods and packet mixes into your suitcase can help with this — student-style skiing! But if you are there for the skiing and/or the nightlife, accommodation is often at the bottom of the list, therefore squeezing into a 20m2 apartment with three friends won't bother you in the slightest.
Having kept to the dates mentioned before, you might be surprised to hear that the resorts of Avoriaz, La Plagne and Alpe d'Huez topped the list for accommodation costs and reasonable lift pass prices. Okay so €5 or so a pint may be the main downfall here, but there are some great value places to eat in both these ski areas. Pizza Roll in Alpe d'Huez is well used buy the underpaid resort staff and at €3 a pizza who can blame them. In Avoriaz ski down the Les Marmottes restaurant in the Lindarets valley for some great value mountain food — which will be much appreciated if a diet of pasta and sauce is on the menu in the evenings!
Alpe d'Huez offers 260km of great skiing, a glacier, Europe's longest black run — the 16km La Sarenne — the infamous Le Tunnel's moguls and the great value Quartier des Bergers Apartments apartments. The lift pass is £165, but includes use of the both the heated outdoor pool (budgie smugglers required), the indoor pool & sports centre and the resort bus, the ski & boot hire is from £75, ski carriage is £17.50. The cheapest ski deal here is again on the 18th January on a flight from Gatwick airport at £276 per person, based on four people sharing — the cheapest deal, but slightly higher resort costs.
The Cassiopee apartments in Belle Plagne often offer great value, whether getting an early summer deal or a last minute cheap trip you can find prices here for sub £270 per person (based on 4 sharing). The lift pass is around £235 for the Paradiski Unlimited pass and ski hire is around £85 for skis & boots and ski carriage is £35. The best price at the moment from Gatwick airport on the 7th January for as little as £285 per person, based on four sharing a four person studio apartment — offering cosy but low cost accommodation.
Chalet holidays can actually offer better value than staying in an apartment, due to the fact most of your catering is covered (the staff have one night off during your stay). You are usually given a hearty breakfast, afternoon tea and a three course evening meal with wine. If you have good chalet hosts you can usually have a large breakfast with cereals, a cooked option and some fruit, then make yourself a cheese, ham or jam sandwich for lunch (though do this quietly as you are not supposed to) and ski back for tea, coffee and cake at 4pm and still have time for an aprés ski beer.
Based on out-and-out price, the Chalet Alice in Les Deux Alpes offers fantastic value. Again using a Gatwick flight the price for two people in a twin room is only £354 per person on the 25th January. So the difference in cost to have two full meals and afternoon tea, with only one evening not catered, is just £103 pp. Les Deux Alpes is a student favourite, offering good nightlife, glacier skiing and reasonable resort prices — the lift pass is only £190 and ski & hire is again around £85 and ski carriage is £35.
For a great overall deal, great value on the mountain and the chance to ski two countries in one holiday, then the Chalet Quatre Saisons in La Rosiere offers fantastic value. The ski area sits toward the end of the Tarantaise Valley, opposite Les Arcs and bordering Italy. Skiing down to La Thuile you can enjoy fantastic mountain food at great, Italian prices, giving great savings throughout the week. This time based on a flight into Gatwick and with two people sharing a twin room the price stands at £295 per person — at £180 for your lift pass with ski hire from as little as £55 (or ski carriage for £39) you are looking at £530 for a week with everything bar lunch and one evening meal paid for!
Over in Les Deux Alpes, there are some ridiculously good value all inclusive deals with the Club Med Les Deux Alpes, though if you fancy a different resort the Club Med Arcs Extreme often has comparable prices. Club Med offer something different to the typical British ski holiday, first of all they are French run, owned and styled hotels, though they have English speaking staff. If you are here for the skiing and not the resort nightlife the hotels have everything you need. The price include accommodation, transport, all inclusive meals and drinks (apart from champagne etc), lift pass, ski school and on charter flights ski carriage. You can ski back to the hotel for lunch, a beer or a snack, the bar is open until early until the early hours and there is entertainment for all ages. If you head out on the 26nd January you are only paying £1084 per person, based on two sharing — this means if you have your own skis you don't have to spend another penny (apart from travel insurance) and if you don't ski hire starts at £104 pp.
Whilst this deals is great last minute value, Club Med also offer terrific Early bird savings of up to £200 pp so booking early is highly recommended.
In a quick round-up, here are the overall price comparisons for the best value self catered, chalet and all inclusive for seven nights:
So depending on how much you expect to spend on meals both in your accommodation and on the mountain, whether you are heading out into resort to party, fancy a glass of wine over dinner, or want the freedom to enjoy a drink whenever you fancy, depends on what works out best for you. Self catered are cosy, but low cost, chalets are comfortable, yet good value and Club Med include everything you need for a great price.
* The prices in this article were correct at time of publish, though are subject to change at anytime.
Christmas is over, you’ve eaten your bodyweight in turkey (not to mention all those Mince Pies!) and now your jeans are feeling a little too tight. Now, you’ve got a ski holiday booked and you’re worried about all that indulgent mountain food – Tartiflette, Raclette, Fondue. ‘How am I ever going to get in to shape again?’, I hear you cry. Well, never fear, all that skiing or boarding you’re about to do may just allow you to eat whatever you want without having to worry…
Snowsports are an excellent form of cardio as well as a great way to tone and strengthen leg, core and arm muscles. Both skiing and snowboarding are particularly good for strengthening the ankles, lower legs, quadriceps and glutes, as you engage these muscles to control your board or skis. Both activities require good balance, which work your core muscles, pulling in your abs and helping to align your spine. As you balance, you use your arm muscles to help steady yourself, working to firm them up, particularly in the upper arms and shoulders.
When your muscles are strong, the body works harder to use them, therefore burning more calories. This, plus being in a cold environment (where your body burns calories just to keep warm) is great news for your metabolism! On top of all these great health benefits, skiing and boarding also release adrenaline and endorphins which lift your mood and make you feel more alert, awake and happy.
So how many calories does skiing / snowboarding burn?
Skiing or boarding for 6 hours can burn a whopping 2000 - 3000 calories, depending on your age, weight and height. With that in mind, it may take a lot less time than you think just to burn off that mulled wine and 3 Wiener Schnitzels you had for lunch…
Here are a few examples of some popular, hearty ski foods and drinks with an estimate of how long it takes to burn off each one (each food portion is based on a 300g serving).
Health Tips for Skiing & Snowboarding
The amount of calories burned while out on the slopes are immense and give you reason to feel less guilty about what you consume après ski. A day in the mountains can be exhausting and you will find yourself needing to consume more food in order to feel energised. If you want to know about the best foods to eat in order to keep you powering through, we’ve created a little guide below.
Feeling in the mood for a ski trip now? Check out our Last Minute Ski Holidays 2014.
Happy skiing, snowboarding and eating, everyone!
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