After a 3 hour train journey from Engelberg, I met up with one of my team mates (Lee) in Visp and had another 2.5hrs in the car before we finally arrived in Pila just as it was getting dark. I have never been to this part of the alps before so I was excited to see what the ski area had to offer, but this would have to wait til tomorrow. We settled into the apartments, then had a meeting to go through the routines and make sure everyone remembered how many lefts and rights we needed to do. After witnessing some great flip chart skills and drawings from Jamie (our head coach) it was time for dinner. If there's a few things the Italians know how to do, it's Pizza and Coffee, and we would all be making the most out of both this camp. Tonight it was Pizza! And my god it was good! I still can't pronounce it (nduja) but apparently it's a spicy Italian sausage, no pun intended.
The next day I woke up just as it was starting to get light, and I was presented with the amazing Aosta Valley. I am used to the small conclave of Engelberg, so the views all the way down this massive valley were quite awe-inspiring. I quickly had some breakfast and we headed off to the lifts for a nice early start.
As it was the first day back together, the plan was to start slowly and and get back into the flow of things. The instructions at the top of the chairlift 'take it easy and get warned up'. Unfortunately or rather fortunately, the pistes were in amazing condition so any chance of taking it slow went out the window after the first few turns, and we all started to crank the intensity and lay down some nice turns.
The first day was mainly about focusing on our first routine that we had spent the most time on at our previous camp back in Kaprun in November. We wanted to get this on point and follow on from the successes of previously. It was great to have the team together again and always striving to improve. In this respect, we benefited a lot from the unfortunate circumstances of Fede, our assistant coach who was injured, who was able to take up a more observing role this time round. Through him we were able to identify issues quickly and resolve them without wasting time. The day finished with a quick change back at the apartment, followed by a meeting, reviewing the days events and dinner. And of course a beer.
Day 2 started in approximately the same manner but we had a focus for our second routine. It's fair to say the lefts and rights became more complicated after a day of focusing on our other, more practiced run. But after getting used to the different rhythms and timings, the whole team worked well together and we were able to get some decent consistency, even when pushing the limits of how close we can get to each other whilst crossing. To quote Sir Alex Ferguson 'squeaky bum time' gives a good impression of how close we were to having some dynamic crashes. Once again the day finished with a quick turnaround followed by a meeting and review of the day. This was of course followed by dinner and a much needed beer.
Day 3 was the day to test our ski instructors brains. Jamie had pre warned us the night prior he wanted to test us and see how we could react to changing from run 1 to run 2. It definitely tested the mental capacity for my brain, but having said that, I am a northerner, so simple counting has been a struggle up until this point. It's amazing how much of skiing is automatic, and when you have to truly focus, it puts into perspective what we make our own guests do on a daily basis. Overall, it was evident to see we were really starting to click as a team, and all of us proud to be see how far we have come.
This was sadly the last day we would all be together before Pamporova next month as a couple of the guys had to leave early. So we had a beer in the sun at the bottom of the slopes all together to celebrate a good camp. We then headed back to the hotel and did the usual: quick change, meeting, review and dinner. I had made a big faux pas on the first night during dinner; ordering a Belgian beer in Italy. This mistake was not forgotten by either myself or the team, and I made up for this by ordering a nice local Italian beer.
The fourth and final day was focused more on what we are planning on presenting at Interski. It was great discussing what we want to show to the other nations, and how we can showoff our philosophy and pedagogy. We all had fun practising some drills and skills, but by lunch it was sadly time to bring the camp to the end so we could all head off in our different directions and get back to our working lives. The camp was a huge success and all of us can't wait for Pamporova! Til then!
Check out the video below which gives a little insight into the training we were doing in Pila and what to expect from the Irish Team in Pamporovo.
The Irish Interski Team is completely self funded with all team members giving up both their time and money to benefit the development of Irish Snowsports. If you would like to support the team please visit their funding page to make a donation https://gogetfunding.com/ireland-at-interski-2019/