I would imagine that, having skied for a number of years now, I wouldn’t need any tuition. But I’d be very wrong. When we arrived in Nendaz, we had already called and arranged tutelage from Patrick at the Premier Alpine Centre. Patrick is a professional ski and télémark instructor with 15 years of experience. Undoubtedly highly qualified, it’s only when you see Patrick ski that his expertise becomes apparent.
Having grown up living and breathing the Alpine mountains, Patrick certainly knew his way around. We met on the first day in Chamonix, a decent two-hour drive from Nendaz. With snow melting fast, it felt like I was continually throwing a slush puppy in my face. I was able to traverse the piste with ease, but Paul, our gofer for the weekend, had never skied before. As such, Patrick took him under his wing and having established the best teaching method, had him criss-crossing the piste in no time. In hindsight, I probably should have advised Paul to liberally administer sun screen before going up. For that matter, I should have used some myself.
April is a great time to catch the last of the snow: the runs are quiet and the lifts are empty. You find yourself surrounded by tanned and toned locals.
When we regrouped for a beer on the mountain, it was clear that Paul had caught the bug. I didn’t know which way his experience would go to be honest. Skiing is said to be harder to learn as you get older. With Patrick’s instruction though, Paul had picked up the basics in no time at all. Despite my hovering with the camera, there were almost no spills to record.
With a full day’s skiing under our belt, we took the cable car down and set off for our chalet in Nendaz. If you ever have the chance to drive through the Four Vallées region, you really should; the scenery is breathtaking at any time of year.
Having stowed our gear at the beautiful Hideaways chalet, we discussed the following morning’s ski destination with Patrick. “Verbier? Isn’t that on the other side of the mountain?” Apparently not. According to Patrick it was a short drive. (I skied Verbier last year and there were some amazing runs.)
The following morning, Patrick was diligently waiting for us in the van outside the chalet. The Alpine Centre offers a private transfer from the chalet to the piste and back for all classes. They can even put your skis, boots, poles and general gear in your chalet before you arrive. For that matter, they have a rental shop on site in the resort and a mountain office offering freeride and heli-skiing products.
A short while later we found ourselves ascending the piste and skiing down into Verbier. The snow was still fresh. Obviously there was a lack of powder, but that was to be expected. All the usual restaurants were still open along with the various ski bars. Paul was coming along well and his form had really improved. Yes, there were moments when he resorted to the pizza wedge manoeuvre – but who hasn’t. He was clearly enjoying it (much to my relief) and I hoped that Patrick would get him up to red and blue level.
By the end of the day, we were all tired and looking forward to a well-deserved drink.
Patrick had really got Paul’s style and form together in a matter of days. I don’t know whether Paul was a natural or whether Patrick can just teach anyone how to ski with time and patience. If you are thinking of heading to Nendaz this winter season and looking to tighten up your style or get the little ones trained up, Patrick and his team are great. If you travel to the region in the summer season you might like to try bungee jumping, canoeing or stand up paddle boarding with the Premier Alpine Centre team.