Following on from our post about what to expect from a ski season assessment day, we also thought it would be nice to share how your first week away from home might shape up.
We were nervous about a few things before our first winter season, mostly (being a little older than most) would we be able to keep up with the uni style nightly drinking sessions but also what might be expected of us during training week.
We’ll save the fears and realities of a ski season for a later post and instead today concentrate on the training week.
Training Week – What to Expect?
We’d known our rough leaving date for a while and had been told to expect to travel by coach. Arriving at the meeting point it was clear a number of people were making the same journey that day, four coach loads to be exact. Each coach had a supervisor (usually just a rep who had worked for the company the previous year) to make announcements on the way etc.
It was made clear in a few emails in the weeks leading up to departure day that these journeys turning into a booze cruise would not be tolerated. From what saw most people accepted this, apart from on the ferry where the majority had a drink or two.
Most of the time on the coach was spent quizzing each other about which resort we’d been placed in and what uni people had just graduated from. Not everyone on the coaches had just finished university, there were some older and younger, but the recent graduates were definitely the majority.
We were joined on our training week by everyone else placed in Austria and also those who would be working in a few of the smaller countries nearby. The first order of business was getting us to our rooms, these had all been pre-arranged and you had no option to move (despite being married). Rooms were shared between 2 or 3 people.
Each of us was given a time slot and issued with all of our uniform and electronics on that same arrival day. We were told to wear full uniform everyday and dress as smart as you’d be at the airport each week (that’s when the most eyes are on you, customers and managers).
Breakfast and dinner was provided at the hotel each day and was actually very good. The hotel was still running as normal despite all these young visitors so you were asked to be respectful. At a short introduction it was explained that you were free to enjoy the hotels and other bars around the town. After all, if you can’t handle your drink during training what use are you going to be to them throughout a season.
It didn’t take long for that point to be proved…
The majority of people went out the night we arrived, we enjoyed a few drinks and it was reasonably tame. The next day however we heard of the first victim, drank too much, stumbled back alone, insulted the staff and was on his way home already. He didn’t even make it to the first training session and after getting to know the managers a little better they admitted this isn’t an uncommon scenario.
Each day training started between 8-9am and took place at a nearby conference centre. A buffet breakfast was available from a couple o hours, so depending how the night before went you could either enjoy or try and hold out until lunch.
Training was carried out in a series of different sections varying in length. For example: Questioning tactics, use of social media, dealing with difficult people etc. Each resort manager had a different section to lead and in our case this was done at the front of the room on stage.
Those on the training were sat around tables in groups which also had a manager and supervisor to help with any questions. They were also there to keep an eye on you and encourage you to get involved. The training had been designed to be as interactive as possible but there were still long periods of watching and listening. Much of the training was quite basic stuff and occasionally came across a little patronising.
Lunch was served at the tables and there was roughly an hour break around 1pm. The sessions often overran but the finishing time was usually between 5-6pm. On a couple of occasions because of sessions taking longer than planned we had to do an extra session back at the hotel in the evening.
After five days of these sessions we were desperate to get to our own resorts and actually see what it all related to. It had been mentioned a few times that all resorts run slightly differently depending on whats available. This made us even more keen to just get there, find out where we were living and get on with it.
By the end of training everyone everyone was ready to leave.
Halfway through the training week however, came the day we had all been looking forward to. A trip to a glacier to finally see the snow we had all come out here for. The purpose of this day was to learn the social skiing (ski guiding) side of being a ski rep. Everyone who was red run confident spent the day (hire gear provided if needed) skiing with an instructor learning how to guide customers safely around the mountain.
Those who had not skied in a while or at all before were put into a lesson for the day and would have the chance to learn how to guide later in the season. We would all have to pass a test on the FIS (International Ski Federation) rules later in the week before we could social ski.
For anyone worried about ski guiding, it’s all about how you manage people and stick to the rules rather than your skiing ability. You are not judged on your skiing and will be able to ski guide as long as you are confident on red runs.
Despite being so desperate to get to our own resorts at the end of the week is was actually quite odd saying goodbye to the other trainees. With there being two main airports in Austria we would see half of them at the airport each week but the rest would be strangers until the end of season party a few months away.
Tips for a happy training week
- Talk to everyone – There are loads interesting people doing the same job as you and very few of them know each other, so go make friends and remember to steal some tips off the returners.
- Enjoy the evenings – Whether it’s gatherings in peoples rooms or nights in the local bars – they’ll be something going on.
- Hangover Control – The training days are long and so are hangovers. Do what you can to make sure you feel OK during the day. Try and get up for breakfast and remember to pack some pain killers.
- Get Involved – Listening for 5 days straight can very boring (and will be noticed) so get involved, be interactive.
Training hadn’t been the best week of our lives but it meant one thing… It was time for the fun to begin.