Although not everyone’s favourite, Monday mornings are often a very exciting time for the Altitude instructors. At around quarter to 9 in the morning, we are waiting eagerly at the Relais des Neiges restaurant to meet our next group of little champions.
The most special of all groups are our Polar Bears. These children are aged between 3 – 5 years and have their own team of specially trained instructors to look after them. These young students arrive at the meeting point with hesitation, confusion and often a few tears. However this doesn’t last long – as soon as they put on their ‘Altitude Racing Bib’ and meet ‘Patrick the Polar Bear’, the tears and missing mum and dad are often forgotten.
We set off in style (human train, conga line, pirate ship…) over to the private bus waiting for us over the road, easily making more noise than all of the other people at Medran put together. After a fair few renditions of ‘Wheels on the Bus’, we arrive at Les Esserts – where the magic snow lives.
Firstly, we start with some fun games and exercises to warm up those muscles, ready for a big morning of skiing. Some of the instructors’ favourites include What’s the time Mr Wolf, Musical Statues and Chase the Polar Bear. We keep this routine to keep the children comfortable, so they know what to expect.
Then comes a fun week of skiing. We start off with our beginner Polar Bears in our exclusive Altitude Kids Garden. This is our own private section on the nursery slope which is cornered off and filled with toys and games to help the students learn. First of all, we scoot around with just one ski, and then swap onto the other leg. This is great fun for the little ones as they get the feel of the snow and sliding around. After this, we start to use the green carpet to learn side stepping and straight running (sliding down with both skis straight). Following this, we start to work on the ‘pizza’ shape (snowplough) – this is the shape made with the skis to help the children to slow down, stop and turn.
Perfecting the pizza stop is an exciting time for everyone – especially the instructors! This then means we will start to work on the pizza turning. Once the basics are there, we head on up to the magic carpet. This is another favourite of the children’s and many Aladdin songs are sung on the way up. The first time up on the magic carpet can often be quite challenging – it is a longer run and a little steeper in some places, but it is always good fun and such a big achievement for the children.
At the end of the week, we all meet in our favourite restaurant, Relais des Neiges for a very special celebration of the children’s accomplishments. All of the instructors stand with the children’s prize bags, waiting to sum up their week with their teams and show how proud they are of their little champions. The children walk up to their teacher in front of their families with big smiles and excitement to see what they have received in their bags, and they leave the week with their badges proudly pinned to their ski jackets, ready to tell their friends at home all about their skiing adventures.