The social aspect of these courses is as much a motivation as a technical refresh. Simon Hotchin, 58, an expert in nuclear fusion, will attend his 13th First Snow Clinic this year – I have kept in touch since we met. He told me recently: “It will be particularly good this year to catch up with people I haven’t seen since 2019. We all meet up for lunch and in the evening, and we support each other in our learning.
In addition to returning regulars, the course is attracting new customers this season. Michelle, a retiree from Manchester, says: “My husband and I started skiing 12 years ago and still have lessons. But last winter all that got better was my baking, so we were looking for a class at the start of the season. This trip seems like the perfect combination of trusted coaching and good company.
Indeed, it is. On my last day in Val d’Isère, the sun rose over a sparkling fresh powder. With gentle reminders from Zimmer to apply the fundamentals taught to us on previous days, my group performed with increased confidence (and mutual backslapping) in deep snow and on groomed trails. And I enjoyed it even more on my next trip that winter – I felt so much fresher on a pair of skis.
After 18 months away from the Alps, I’m going to work harder than ever on the slopes in December. But, for the same reason, the first thing I’m going to do is take a tune-up course. On the contrary, it’s a good excuse for a bonus ski vacation.
How to do
The Première Neige du Ski Clinic costs £ 1,449 for one week, from November 27 to December 4, or £ 849 for the mini-stay from December 4 to 7 on the basis of two shares, including flights, transfers, board chalet, ski lift passes, lessons and video analysis (01484 548996; leski.com).
More lessons at the start of the season
Renowned ski trainer Warren Smith runs five-day pre-season lessons in November and early December on the Klein Matterhorn Glacier, accessible from Cervinia in Italy, before heading to his Swiss base in Verbier for five- and two-day lessons. . As a bonus, it introduces biomechanical analyzes (of balance and flexion) and exercises to protect against fatigue and injury. From £ 649 for five day courses; £ 229 for two days of coaching (07747809545; warrensmith-skiacademy.com).