A couple of years ago, before embarking on our first ever family ski holiday, I took my kids (Holly and Harry) to Skiplex in Reading to have a few ski lessons. I was amazed as after only 3 lessons, they had learnt the basics and felt comfortable on Skis.
A great deal of this achievement I have to attribute to Shelly, their ski instructor. Shelly’s cool, bubbly and friendly personality really put them at ease while her professionalism pushed them to the next stages.
Fast forward to the summer of 2015, after a chance meeting with Shelly at a charity event in London, I was invited to bring the kids back for some more lessons, but this time in Basingstoke where Shelly is now the General Manager.
Unfortunately, Harry was unable to go so I embarked on the short trip down the M3 to Basingstoke just with Holly. We were greeted at reception by Shelly and as Harry was not there, I was persuaded to don some skis and have a go. I used to ski many moons ago but have since switched to the dark side of the force and am now a snowboarder.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Skiplex, think of it as a giant revolving slope with the speed and incline controlled by the instructor via remote control. Because the slope revolves, the skier is not travelling in a downward motion (like running on a treadmill in a gym). The obvious benefits of this is that the instructor is in full control the whole time and no time is wasted with ski lifts.
Holly was rusty at first but rapidly got the hang of it with Shelly encouraging and instructing from the side, pushing Holly to get to the parallel ski stage of which she achieved. After increasing the incline and speed, Shelly then placed plastic markers onto the slope that Holly had to manoeuvre around slalom style as they sped past. I was impressed!
My progression was not so rapid as I feel so much more comfortable sliding sideways with a single plank under my feet rather than the two. Also, after 5 minutes, my legs reminded me with a burning sensation that skiing uses different leg muscles to snowboarding! But, I persevered and felt comfortable skiing by the end.
After receiving our newly stamped progression stage books I was pleased that I had reached a greater level than previously, but to Holly’s glee, she had surpassed me by a single skill stage. I think I will stick to snowboarding!
Mark is also the manager of Jamie Barrow (Britain’s fastest snowboarder)