Sestriere 2023 - Ski Trip!
After a hearty lunch to keep us going, 82 students and 10 staff were ready to leave Peterborough for the ski slopes of Sestriere, location of the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics Ski competitions.
Coaches were loaded with luggage and snacks, everyone chose a seat and the two packed coaches pulled out of the school gates. Some of us had never skied before and weren’t sure what to expect. Others were highly accomplished, experienced skiers looking forward to getting back on the snow. We were all very excited to get to Italy and see the beautiful Milky Way ski region in the north of Italy.
The journey passed uneventfully with the ferry crossing making a fun break from sitting on the coach. By Friday lunchtime, we had reached 2000m altitude and arrived at the hotel. After settling into our rooms, we all headed for lunch (our only pizza of the week!) and our first view of the surrounding slopes. After boot fitting and equipment issue, we spent the rest of the day unpacking and finding our way around the hotel. As our rooms were on floors 6, 7 and 8, we got amazing views of the ski resort from the windows of our rooms. We also got very fit walking up and down the stairs on the numerous occasions when the lift wasn’t working! As a complete novice, I was excited to learn to ski but it looked quite difficult; would I be able to balance and make it down a slope without falling over?
For the novices, there was so much to learn on the first morning! Just putting the boots on proved quite a challenge, let alone wearing them to carry the skis over to the nursery slope. Putting the skis on was the next milestone, swiftly followed by learning how to stand still on the snow without sliding down the slightest of gradients. Actually moving over the snow and staying upright was next and this part took some time! The most important part, learning to stop, came very soon after. We soon got used to hearing ‘Pizza, Pizza,Pizza!’ shouted at us to remind us how to come to a halt. Obviously the capable experienced skiers were allocated to groups from the outset and had gone off to the blue and red runs to demonstrate their skills. By the end of Day 1, most beginners had managed to slowly descend a nursery slope and had progressed to the Magic Carpet; a travelator that carried you to the top of the slope so that you could ski down. Everyone made a huge amount of progress on that first day but having to concentrate for so long was exhausting!
Over the course of the week, it was brilliant to see everyone’s confidence grow; some students picked it up with what seemed like minimal effort while others, like me!, took a little longer to get the hang of it. Going on the chairlift for the first time was extremely exciting, although getting off without falling over proved a challenge for some initially! Our first descents of the short blue runs generally ended with a lot of us falling over and struggling to get back up, especially when everyone was laughing. We were definitely having fun! Eventually, we progressed to the bigger Magic Carpet and the runs that were further away. This meant having to use the button lift; a kind of suspended stool that you stand over and it pulls you up the hill. Several of us had difficulty either staying on this device, or getting off at the end but we did all master it by the end of the holiday. Everyone felt a huge sense of achievement when they managed to ski down the longer runs whilst avoiding more proficient skiers and snow-boarders who were coming thick and fast from all directions. I certainly felt pleased but also rather relieved when I made it to the bottom of the slope, only to be told to go and do it all over again. The great thing was that each time you got a little better and understood more about how to control the skis, how to turn and how not to fall over.
Mrs Silvester must have foreseen that 5 hours of skiing each day wouldn’t be sufficient exercise to wear us all out so, in collaboration with our friendly reps Olivia and Charlotte, she kindly arranged an activity for every night of our stay. We enjoyed a quiz, a trip into town for ice-cream, a karaoke evening for older students, ice-skating and a disco. It was super to see everyone joining in, with sixth-formers always willing to help out the younger students. This was perhaps most evident at the disco when everyone danced together and made some treasured memories on the last night of the trip.
It was a truly fantastic experience that I would recommend to anyone, whether they have experience of skiing or not. The success of the trip is due in large part to the amazing organisation skills of Mrs Silvester and the capable hands of the accompanying staff. It was a pleasure to spend time with all the staff and students and it made the end of term extra special. Thank-you to everyone involved for a trip I will never forget.
Dr B smart (first time skier!)