The Boutique Chalet Company has a dedicated team of ski instructor guides available exclusively to our clients.
They all hold the highest possible international ski instructor qualifications, and the sought-after carte pro, that allows ski instructors to teach in France.
But they also, individually, hold some of the most impressive credentials possible!
From race training athletes of the future, to organising some of the few heli-ski experiences allowed in France, to examining the ski instructors of tomorrow.
Here we go Under the Microscope with Mark to find out a bit more about his background and more importantly to get some top ski tips!
When did you start skiing?
I started skiing from quite a young age and immediately fell in love with all forms of snow sports.
When did you know that you wanted to make a career from skiing?
I knew almost immediately that I wanted to make a living from skiing. When I joined the British Army I was appointed as a Military Ski Teacher and worked in Norway teaching Special Forces and supporting forces. I also raced in the Army – Downhill and Super G – and in 1994 was the Land UK Forces Champion.
Greatest personal achievement
Greatest professional achievement
I qualified as an instructor for the ESF which as a Brit is quite an achievement. I was a British Army racer and coach and a Race Coach / Trainer for Kandahar Racing, the UK’s most established and prominent ski racing association.
What can someone expect from a lesson / day guiding with you.
The goal is always about enjoyment. Whether we spend the day lapping Green runs, making our way to a specific restaurant, organise more technical sessions or head off piste, it’s always about having fun – especially when teaching kids!
Something unique to skiing with you
Well, we are a pretty qualified bunch! So you will be hard pushed to find better trainers coaches and teachers. But for me, I love teaching families and kids. And I really really enjoy creating heli-experiences for the guests.
In France, traditional heli-skiing is not allowed (when you are taken to the top of a summit or mountain and dropped off by helicopter). But there are many other options that are possible. Whether we spend the day off piste and then get picked up by helicopter; or perhaps we take an on-piste tour with the family to the furthest point of the Portes du Soleil and get picked up by helicopter; or we take a heli-tour to somewhere like Chamonix, ski there, and then heli-back. On-piste, off-piste, tours and family days – the possibilities are limitless.
Mountain Top Tip – what wouldn’t you be without
My phone! And I cringe as I say that. But my phone gives me instant access to weather updates, it enables me to call for help in an emergency, to receive mountain safety updates. It also means I can organise transfers at the end of my ski day with clients, book restaurants and allows me to do some all important filming so clients can see how they are getting on.
What have you noticed over the years
3rd day blues! On day three I often see my clients really feeling it. Their energy levels are low. Their bodies are tired. They might have had too much, let’s say, over indulgence in terms of alcohol and also food. So Day 3 can be tough. As an instructor it’s important to take this into consideration when planning a week. But it’s also important for clients to be aware of it. So they don’t get disheartened and so they do what they can to avoid it. By Day 4 everything tends to pick up again!
Not everyone wants to hear it but fitness is important to get the most out of your skiing and your holiday. I see a lot of clients get out of breath or fatigued easily. So do some cardio before your holiday (ideally all the time!) and make sure you stretch at end of day.
Skiing is an anaerobic form of exercise. It uses lots of energy but not much oxygen. It’s important to avoid lactic acid build up. This is where end of day stretching comes in!
Also work on conditioning your thighs, glutes and quads. It will be worth it when you hit the slopes!
Top Tip – Stretching. I couldn’t stress enough the importance of the stretch.
As professionals, working on the mountain every day, our equipment is everything.
If you are spending everyday at altitude, for 5 months of the year, in all weather conditions, you have to buy technical. We don’t stop until our clients do. We have to be on top form. We have to be ready for every eventuality, that includes staying on the mountain, possibly with an injured client.
Whilst it’s not necessary to get the highest technical clothing for a one or two week holiday, having good quality clothing will make those weeks much more enjoyable! This is what I will be wearing this year.
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