Apologies for delay in getting this posted - we're blaming jet lag! But glad you still made it to read the final episode of our story for the season ...
With half of our contingent having left us for the sunny shores of Britain and Australia, our numbers had dwindled significantly by last weekend but that's not to say our spirits followed suit. We were determined to make the last week an awesome send-off for the rest of the SnowSkool crew in Banff. Having already been on our “final pub crawl”, it seemed silly and unnecessary to dub the Sunday night extravaganza, organised by Jimmy from the HI, “the FINAL final pub crawl”, but we did so anyway. A fair few of our remaining cohort made their way into town to sample the delights of Banff of an evening, trotting merrily around our favourite haunts from Mel's to Tommy's and, finally, to The Dancing Sasquatch.
As a result of this outing, breakfast on Monday morning was, essentially, dead. In addition to SnowSkool Simon & AJ, there was a grand total of three attendees! Nevertheless, most of our die-hard skiers and snowboarders made it out of bed and on to the bus at the later time of 8.25am, allowing them a little lie-in compared to the last 12 weeks. The weather up at Sunshine was glorious for the whole of Monday, but some of us were slightly late in getting up the hill, having returned to bed after bidding Ben Kaye farewell at 4.45am (as in the morning!). He had a ludicrously early transfer to Calgary on his way back to Wangaratta, Australia (that’s Ned Kelly country for the uninitiated). Once sleep had been caught up on, the rest of the crew headed up the hill to enjoy the reasonably quiet pistes and put in park laps. Monday evening was a subdued affair, with dinner being held in Cougar Pete's cafe, as it would be for the whole week. There was a cosy atmosphere and the group was chattier than ever talking about their conquests of the day up in the park. Front flips seemed to be the name of the game and everyone was throwing them (or at least trying to!). Nobody went out that evening as, if we have learnt anything in our time here, we know that Banff is like a ghost-town on Monday nights.
Tuesday saw a return to normality with more people making it to breakfast, eager to get their shred on with the remaining days ever-decreasing. The weather up at Sunshine Village was slightly less desirable than it had been over the last few days, with clouds coming in and the temperature dropping.
The middle of the week rolled around and everyone was acutely aware of the limited time left in Banff. Once again, they all rushed up the hill on the 8.25am bus to get in a little shred before retiring at noon to get back to the hostel in time to say goodbye to our next departures. Sam Freeman and Hannah were due to head back to Australia, so we gathered in the lobby and waited with them for their transfer. Hannah, not being one for emotional goodbyes (much!), did well to hold it together! Our two final Aussie departures (Luke is staying on, so doesn't count) were on their way and the group shrunk just a little more. That evening we headed down to the Storm Cellar and rocked our in the hostel's weekly Jam night.
With the gang at its final size before our departure, everyone headed up to Sunshine on Wednesday to get some of that last minute video-taking, spin-hucking, drop-dropping, front-flipping madness out of the way. The sun was hiding just a little bit but the temperature wasn't too bad and the mood was one of celebration. We'd made it this far and with only a couple of days left until home-time, it was time to let loose! Milly, Beth, Imogen and Grace all went up for the day to shred the relatively slushy spring snow while the boys headed to the park to throw down their serious game. Jack got his spins locked, Felix was going bigger than ever off the kickers and Pat Moore got his 5s and flips dialled. It was a testament to how far everyone has come in the time out in Canada.
The last day of riding on Friday! Although, if superstition is to be believed: DO NOT MENTION THIS! In the same way that we never call “last run”, as that is how and when accidents happen, we do not call “last day”. The posse headed up the hill and ripped Sunshine Village apart! The clouds were covering the resort good and proper, which was a shame, but we can't always have perfect, blue-bird days. After a final, solid day of riding, it was time to retire to the HI for dinner. As luck would have it, our last meal was bangers and mash, preparing us for our return to the UK before we'd even started our journey! A night out in Banff on a Friday is always a gamble as it's when the city-folk stroll in from Calgary and cause all sorts of mischief. We made the wise decision to stick to the Storm Cellar and bid a fond farewell to Banff in a quiet(ish) fashion. A few games of pool were played, a few jugs of beer were consumed and a few songs were sung for the hostel's weekly karaoke night. A perfect send-off for a perfect stint in the Rockies.
The journey begins... We all woke up early on Saturday for the final breakfast - a “Clear the cupboards! Eat as much as you can!” style meal. Once this was done, it was back to our rooms to finish packing and checking for the inevitable misplaced sock/passport before everyone converged on the lobby. It was with heavy hearts that we said our farewells, not only to the hostel staff who have treated us so well over the last three months, but also to the few remaining SnowSkoolers we were leaving behind (not out of spite – they had plans to stay longer!) Archie, Andrew, Sam Melin, Barney, Chris and Luke teamed up with the HI staff and gave us a “cheeky” farewell to be remembered. Archie in particular...
The mood on the coach was sombre but after a little while we were cracking jokes and reminiscing about the amazing weeks we'd spent together in possibly one of the most beautiful places on this planet. It was only a short hop, skip and a jump until we were back across the Atlantic and reluctantly saying goodbye to our new-found friends. But on the upside, we swapped them out for our much-missed families and friends back here at home!
So there we go. That was, to the best of our ability, our account of the 2013 winter in Banff, Alberta. We hope you've enjoyed reading these blogs as much as we've enjoyed being out here and writing them (a bit of a stretch, we know) and that you're all the more clued-up on the goings on of the SnowSkoolers while they were out here. Time to send some big "thankyous" - to the talented trainers at Sunshine Village, the wonderful staff at the HI and to the SnowSkool spread far and wide (Phil in Winchester, Steve in Bristol, Heather in Scotland and Marion in Sydney), we could'na done it without your support. It truly has been a pleasure hanging out with one of the most fun groups of newly-qualified ski and snowboard instructors imaginable. We hope you've all had great reunions and see that your particular Skooler is the same but different to before. They've all come a long way on many, many fronts with lots of lessons learned and experiences lived. We look forward to hearing from everyone in the future as to where their teaching has taken them and we hope that each and every one of them continues to live the dream. Next stop ... Wanaka, New Zealand ... where the snow is already starting to fall ...
Until next time,
SnowSkool AJ and SnowSkool Simon
Course Hosts - SnowSkool Banff 2013
Wanna be a part of the next SnowSKool advebture? Try these links: