The first ever Walton High Ski trip took place during February half term in the lovely traditional Austrian Ski town of Radstadt, part of the large Ski Amade region. On the departure day, the five staff and 35 students all arrived in school with their ski bags and the long build up was finally over. We were all going skiing and we all couldn’t wait; there was nervous excitement everywhere in the air. At departure time 12.30pm on Friday 10h February, the tour bus was fully packed and we got a lovely send off from the large gathering of parents wanting to wave good bye to their sons and daughters from the front of the school.
After the long 20 hour journey to Austria we arrived in Radstadt, at 10.30am Saturday 11 February, great time was made and as we drove into and through the Austrian mountains, the oooohs and aaarrghs coming from the students was really nice to hear as they saw snow covered peaks for the first time. It certainly put a smile on the staff faces, knowing that a large number of the students were experiencing this for the first time and we were all looking to week ahead.
The week was a busy week, skiing four hours a day as well has having four après ski activities planned (water park / Lucky Fitzer tobogganing / snow tubing / inflatable sumo wrestling). The students were never going to be bored on the trip. The accommodation we stayed in was perfect. Dormitories with bunk beds and showers, with all students sharing with friends and making new ones as well. The facilities were great, there were several play rooms, table tennis, pool, mini sports hall, disco area and a chill out zone. This allowed the students some freedom which was great and also allowed the staff to see a different side to the students, especially as this was for some, the first time they had ever been away without their parents.
Onto the skiing, the students were split into four groups, with four fantastic instructors – Malena, Sophie, Natasha and Benji. They really made the trip for the students as by the end all students could confidently say that they had learnt to ski – amazing and as staff we couldn’t thank them enough for their patience, but also unending enthusiasm to get all the students skiing (even if some did take longer than others to get it).
The first two days we skied in Radstadt and three of the four groups were complete beginners so spent the first two days on the nursery slopes getting familiarised with the new skill of skiing. The fourth group were on the mountain the first two days as they all had some limited experience of skiing before the trip. The third and fourth days we ventured further afield to the famous Zauchensee resort which holds regular World Cup downhill races and all students were now on the mountain at this point. Some skiing faster and more confidently than others, but all skiing – which was amazing and great to see and to top it off, the weather was fantastic all week, blue skies, sunshine, cold temperatures, the perfect way to introduce students to skiing and resulting in some fantastic snow conditions as well.
Thursday - race day. Each student was able to demonstrate their ski racing prowess down a really good slalom course and each was timed. I was amazed at how all the students, after only four days of skiing, were able to take on this challenge and they all completed the course in some fantastic times. Of course the staff took on the challenge to, with Peter Basham coming out the fastest of all the students and Mr Chapman winning the staff race. This day was topped off with the traditional après ski hot chocolate on the slopes and a racing presentation led by the ski instructors. What a great day and one all students won’t forget.
The final day was very different to the others; we again skied in Radstadt, the heavens opened all day and it snowed and snowed. The students got to experience skiing whilst it snowed. What a great way to finish a fantastic first ski trip for all the students. They had experienced all the weathers that make skiing a passion for some and they even were able to demonstrate their ability on varied piste conditions and fresh snow; amazing!! Some students did struggle due to tiredness but they all managed to ski down the mountain to the bottom and we gathered at the bottom of the gondola to celebrate a fantastic week on the snow and take some final pictures.
This trip has been a trip of a lifetime for some and some students now have the skiing bug and have already asked if are we going next year. This makes the staff and the school really proud of the students who went on this trip. They were an asset and great ambassadors for the school. It was commented on by Daryl our ski rep, the hotel owners, the ski instructors and bus drivers as to how polite and thankful the students were to them all during the whole trip. It must not be underestimated what the students were able to achieve on this trip. They were able to display skills of independence, organisation, time keeping and resilience during the week. Many had not ever been away from parents before or abroad. They have all learnt an amazing new skill, the ability to ski and in doing so conquered a few fears (heights for one).
The feedback from parents has been escellent and that is credit to the students and the staff who went on the trip: Mr Harris, Mr Aston, Miss South and Miss Kirby. Without them, this trip would not have been so successful. Thank you to you all for giving up your half term and free time to allow the students to experience the joy and fun that is skiing, which I hope will turn into a passion for them in the future.
“A trip of a life time, well worth giving it a shot!”
“An amazing and fun experience, which will be remembered!”
“So glad I took on the challenge, well worth it!”
Mr S Chapman - PE