Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Sierra Nevada ski trip!

A few months ago, the PE teacher with whom I had the most classes mentioned that he was taking the 2ndo ESO class (Year 8) to the nearby Sierra Nevada ski range for a day trip, and I should come along (he did say he'd love to take me to Andorra with the Year 11 class for their ski trip, but that one was out of his power). On the first day back of 2016, Joaquín told me that the trip was coming up in about two weeks, so if I could pay the 40eu the following day, I was in.  My co-ordinator released me from the day's classes, I paid up and I was on the figurative bus.

After two weeks of frantically searching for borrowed  ski gear, I was up at 6am last Wednesday to dress and head to the bus station before 7am.  Two dark hours of noisy 13-year-olds later, we pulled up to the town of Pradollano, the main town of the Sierra Nevada Ski Resort. Our guide handed out lift passes, and it was onto the gondola and up the mountain.
Pradollano and the mountains
Winter wonderland!
Though we were all already kitted up, it took a while to sort out the actual equipment - helmets, boots and either snowboards or skis and poles for everyone. We were then split up into smaller groups for lessons with an instructor.
Lesson 1 - how to put on your skis (harder than it sounds.) Lesson 2 - walking. Then it was gliding, limbo, jumping and stopping. Once we'd mastered that, the instructor took us to a very small incline nearby and had us ski to the bottom before stopping.  Some of us managed the stopping better than others.  Some stopped into others.  In short, skiing with teenage first-timers is hilarious.  I spent most of the day laughing at them all falling over.
Walking on skis
Next it was on a small ski ramp to the top of the learner's incline, and then straight onto a longer one that dropped us about halfway up the nearest slope.  This time Manolo, our instructor, had us ski down bit by bit, working on stopping.  When skiing, you stop by turning your toes inwards to create a wedge shape, or 'cuña' in Spanish.  I spent a lot of time yelling "Cuña!" at my students, who equally spent a lot of time skiing right on past me 'til they ran out of momentum.  Again, so long as they weren't bleeding, watching my students whizzing past going, "I don't know how to stooooooop!" was pretty funny for me.  Call it revenge for tiring Thursday afternoons trying to make them stay in their seats and stop throwing paper around the classroom.
Halfway up the slope
Me and the kids
We stopped for lunch at 2pm, after a couple more sessions skiing down the small slope.  We also worked on turning, which, again, caused problems for some...

WHOOSH. "What was tha...oh, Antonio forgot how to stop again....cuña, Antonio!...yup, he's fallen over now."
THUMP. "Who fell over this time?" "Daniel.  Again.  No, Daniel, try standing up with your skis on this time.  Hey, Manolo, once you've sorted out Antonio, Daniel needs help again!"
THUMP. "Was that...". "Yup. Antonio." "How did he manage to fall over when he wasn't even moving?..." "I have no idea."
*This dialogue is not verbatim, but is 90% accurate.  I'm sure because this happened many times...many, many times.

After a quick sandwich lunch sitting in the lovely warm, comfortable snow, we had an hour of free skiing time until we had to meet again to take the bus.  I elected to go with our PE teacher Joaquín and some of the boys in my group, since they were doing the larger slope.  What I didn't realise was that they were taking the ski lift to the top of the nearest slope...ALL the way to the top.
On the main slope
After what seemed like a VERY long time on the ski lift, about a dozen of us marshalled at the top of the slope before setting off.  We lasted about 30 metres before we had a man down. In the 10 or so minutes it took to get Fran back on his skis, the snowboarders gathered underneath the chairlift and eventually took off without us, the rest of us skiers gathered a bit further up, and all the boys promptly fell down the nearest incline as soon as we started moving again.
Waiting on my boys...
Eventually I left the students behind, since they ALL kept falling over and I couldn't help them back into their skis, so I left them to Joaquín and went it alone.  The crowning moment of my day was skiing neatly to the bottom of the slope and braking gently from 200 metres up (ok, so I hurtled down in ever-increasing speed and terror until I ran out of momentum at the bottom, but hey, progress).  This was followed by a painful slog back to the hire centre to get out of those awful ski boots, and a two-hour bus ride home with an incredibly noisy, hyped-up bunch of kids.  How they had that much energy after the day we'd had I will never understand, but then that's niños for you.
Second ski lift from the right - top to bottom!
Bucket list #23: learn to ski - check!

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