Summer Ski Camp

Les Deux Alpes 2009


Ski instruction in europe 2009

Summer of 2009 was an active one for the Your Ski Coach team.  Not only did we complete the last two videos in the Building Blocks Instructional Series, and begin producing Drill Cards to accompany the DVDs, we also conducted our first summer Building Blocks camps.

Over the course of two weeks, 16 Building Blocks students from various places on the globe converged on the picturesque resort town of Les Deux Alpes to hone their skiing skills, and enjoy some wondrous days in a truly special place.   Nestled in the heart of the French Alps, surrounded by massive peaks, Les Deux Alpes sits in a breathtakingly beautiful setting. 

Even the ride up into the mountains from Grenoble lets you know you’re in for something special.  Surrounded by spectacular peaks that pierce the sky, the road weaves its way along narrow switchbacks that hang on the side of shear drop offs.  Up you climb, one stunning mountain vista after the next gracing your view, until cresting the final climb unveils the sprawling valley that harbors this magnificent destination. 

Ski runs descend into town from every direction.  These are not your typical easy greens that let you cap off the day with a lazy slide down to the lodge.  These runs mirror the majesty of the peaks that surround the town, and test the fortitude of the skiers who travel them home.  But these were not the trails we were to ski.  In June these slopes are green in clover, and sport tee-shirt clad mountain bikers braving the many trails that descend them.  We were to ride the 1/2 hour journey up the tram to the Glacier far above town. 

Our camp was staffed by myself, and Les Deux Alpes local coach Charlotte Swift, a strong advocate of the Building Blocks teaching methodology.  Many thanks to Charlotte for the work she put into organizing and hosting this great camp.  Without her efforts this  event would not have happened.  Charlotte operates independently at Les Deux Alps under the name Easiski.  Her monster Chevy van sports her Easiski name, and draws a lot of fascinated attention in this land of compact transportation.  Charlotte is in high demand as a coach for her ability to work with students of any level, and help them build the foundation skills that transforms the fun they have on skis.  People seek her out when they come to L2A (Les Deux Alpes), and I highly recommend you do the same if you journey there.  Contact her at

A get together dinner at the excellent lodge Charlotte arranged for us, a team meeting to lay out a game plan for our first trip to the snow, and there we were at the crack of dawn, heading up the tram to the glacier.  The ride accentuated what a great resort this is.  The mountain is massive, and graced with great terrain.  We all agreed we must come back here in the winter. 

By 8am the glacier was already alive with people.
  This glacier is a prime summer training location for race teams from all over the world.  Dozens of designated training lanes, littered with slalom gates, stretched across the upper part of the glacier.  A quick B & B stop (beverage and bathroom), and it was off to the snow to get to work. 

We conducted 2 camps during our time at L2A, each consisting of 6 days of training.  While the slopes had traffic traveling at high speed, it felt very safe because it was composed primarily of highly skilled racers who had complete control of their line, and the ability to maneuver through our classes with ease.  It was actually a joy to watch these accomplished skiers streak by.  Many were national team level, and they provided an excellent model for us to observe. 

As we trained, we followed the Building Blocks progression, starting right at square one.  With 6 days to train, we had the luxury of being very thorough in our skill building, and we took advantage of it.  We worked on balance and edging skills, and everyone made great progress in expanding their abilities in those areas.  Everyone got in touch with their balance state awareness, and learned how moving fore and aft affects not only the ski’s performance, but how efficiently the body operates.   They learned new edging skills, and how to manage their turn shape and speed with precision.  And they learned how rotation, angulation, flexion/extension and transitions plays into the big picture.

We covered so much ground each 6 days, it was exciting to see the major improvements that took place, and the smiles that emerged because of it.  Breakthrough moments took place on a regular basis, and statements like, “where has this ILE thing been all my life”, and “counter rocks”, were spontaneously uttered by our enthusiastic students. 

Each day we recorded video of the drills we were working on, then did review of it back at the lodge in the evening.  This consolidated the lessons learned through the day, letting people see the things they did well, while pointing out the areas that needed to be fine tuned. 

All in all, the improvements made by our campers were tremendous.  We did before and after video, and contrasts were stunning.  What was really fun was the “NAME A DRILL” game we did the last afternoon of camp.  Our campers were assigned the task of selecting an execution variation from each of the 6 skill areas, and combining them into a new drill.  This allowed them to make use of all the new skills they learned during the camp, and discover how versatile those new skills had made them.  It was quite impressive the drills they came up with, and how well the rest of the group did in performing each new combination of skills. 

Thanks to all the attendees for your enthusiasm and hard work at the camp.  It was a tremendous success, and we look forward to offering more opportunities like this to our Building Blocks students in the future. 

Rick Schnellmann

Your Ski Coach

Photos from the summer camp


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