As a result of the Head of PE at college being on maternity leave, I ended up organising the ski trip this year. Several hours of work went into it and it was a relief to finally set off on what turned out to be a 21 hour coach journey to Austria, leaving London on Friday 13th Feb.
When we arrived, we were told about how this time was a bit crazy in Imst (the town our hotel was in), as we’d got there just in time for the two-day, once-every-4-years festival of ‘Fasnacht’. This involved lots of interestingly-costumed Austrians parading through the town, with a carnival of some amazing floats. I got pictures of a couple of floats, but they were taken in the morning when they were parked and empty. During the carnival all the floats became travelling bars serving various types of alcohol to anyone who wanted to jump on board. The festival is supposedly about chasing out the winter spirits and welcoming spring, but that seemed a bit premature given the lovely big dump of snow we had on our third day on the slopes.
The snow was fantastic. The mountains looked gorgeous from our hotel and the views from up on the tops were stunning. We spent the first two and last days in the small resort of Oetz, with the middle two days at the larger Solden resort. The snow was great every day, with sunshine on all but one day (the first day in Solden was very snowy, reducing visibility but making great conditions for boarding). The students seemed to enjoy themselves and made good progress on the slopes. Jim and I loved it, zooming down as many runs as we could. It was a bit chilly most days with temps as low as -15 degrees C at times apparently!
In the evenings the students and some staff mostly went out to bars, one night there was a successful quiz (including Hungarian folk dancing for bonus points, won by a deserving student doing his thing on a tabletop) and we also went curling. Well, it was sold to us as curling, but it didn’t involve brooms and it was on a freezing outdoor court, with wind blowing icy snow across the proceedings. Great fun all the same.
I managed to run every morning, with distances of 6, 6, 3, 4 and 2 miles, always including at least one tough hill (worth it for the view of the valley on the way back down). It was surprisingly noticeable how the altitude affects fitness (Imst is at 827m), though the runs did become easier each day. Plus I experienced eyelash icicles a couple of days as it was so cold! The stream in the picture is a cute place I found on my first morning out running.
I didn’t get any decent action shots on the slopes, hence the pics of Jim being of him with a ginger tom we found in Solden and one leaning nonchalantly against a fire hydrant!
The coach drivers were great, with Janos skiing with Jim and me most days, while Andy did his bit on the nights out. Our hotel manager was also lovely, making things run very smoothly for us. Our rep, Claudia, was very good considering she was only 20 and doing this during her short holiday from studying for an archaeology degree. We had no serious injuries, with just one student being skidooed off the slopes to hospital for an Xray, but it was only a twisted knee and she was back on skis the following day.
The 22 hour coach journey home dragged a bit, but we were too knackered to care much. Nice to be back safely though and the cats were definitely very pleased to see us.