First ski trip from USA to the French Alps

In Dec ’19 we were contacted by Juliana Gansl from ultimate-ski.com. She was coming to Europe to ski Val d’Isere, Val Thorens and Chamonix.

TDCski was delighted to have her sign up for a few off-piste backcountry guiding sessions so that we could get the chance to show her around what we already know to be the brilliant skiing on offer in Val d’Isere and Tignes.

Here is Juliana’s thoughts on Val d’Isere –
You can read the full article here.

Val d’Isere

Val D'Isere village night
Val d’Isere

©Juliana Gansl

After landing in Lyon, I got my rental car and started the 2.5-hour drive to Val d’Isere at the eastern end of the Vanoise National Park. Several Brits I met described Val d’Isere as a “chocolate box town,” meaning it’s wonderfully picturesque. They were right.

The main street is lined with ski stores, bakeries, restaurants and bars. Some of the side streets are located next to the base area, making everything centrally located and easily accessible. Val d’Isere, combined with its neighbouring resort, Tignes, make up one of the largest ski regions in France – the Espace Killy I purchased a 6-day pass with access to both resorts for USD $290 (including insurance for $2 per day, which would come in handy in case of an emergency). I also pre-booked two off-piste group guided days with The Development Centre (TDC), so that I could explore more challenging terrain and get the most out of the Espace Killy.

Pro-Tip: for skiers used to North American resorts – where mostly all trails, trees and bowls are considered in-bounds and therefore avalanche controlled, patrolled and marked – in Europe, plenty of lift-accessible terrain isn’t avalanche controlled, patrolled or marked. Make sure to familiarize yourself with Europe’s piste and off-piste definitions to avoid ending up in potentially life-threatening situations. Local piste maps are clear, but if in any doubt check your understanding on arrival.

My guides, Steve Angus and Rich Jones, were both professional, easy to communicate with, and extremely knowledgeable about the area. I happened to ski with them on two of the cloudier days, and they did an excellent job of finding untouched powder runs unaffected by the wind. Most importantly, I felt incredibly safe in their care, and would highly recommend them both.

Pro Tip: ensure you have a good low-light lens when skiing in Europe as most resorts are above the tree line, which means that visibility will always be poor when it’s cloudy.

As a solo traveler, I made a sincere effort to talk to strangers and say yes to as much as possible. My first afternoon after skiing I stopped into Chez Jules and the owner and I ended up taking shots of Génépy – an aperitif native to the region – in honor of sharing the same first name. On my second day, I started chatting with a group of young French skiers on the gondola and ended up skiing the entire day with them – including stopping for a delicious lunch at La Fruitiere and then for champagne and dessert at the infamous La Folie Douce next door. While walking around town another night, I befriended a group of lads from Manchester, UK, and met them the next several afternoons at CocoRico to dance on tables and drink caramel flavored Polish vodka.

In Val d’Isere my AirBnB apartment was in a small building located on Rue du Cachay in Rond Point des Pistes, next to the central bus round-about. It was a one-minute walk to the Solaise and Olympique lifts, 30 seconds to the CocoRico, and 5 minutes to the main street (just walk across the ski trail). The apartment luckily included a free, covered parking spot. I highly recommend staying in this area if options are available.

When my seventh day came, I was truly sad to have to leave Val d’Isere – I would have been perfectly happy spending my entire trip in The Espace Killy – but the Three Valleys was up next.

Ultimate-Ski guide to Val d’Isere >

Read Juliana’s full article here.

Ski Lessons or Ski Coaching?

What’s the difference?
Is there a difference between Ski Lessons and Ski Coaching?

At the start of every season, we do the rounds, meeting all the new staff in the ski shops, in the chalets etc. Lots of them know us from previous years but every year there are new faces. So, once again our job is to explain what it is that we do at TDCski, how are we different?

What is it that TDCski does that is different?

So I tell a story about a conversation that took place on a chairlift, that maybe did or didn’t actually happen. Whether it happened is not the point, the story helps answer our question.
The conversation is between me, an instructor, and a random friendly holidaymaker who has overheard my conversation, in English, with my client that day.
It goes like this…

“Excuse me, are you a Ski Instructor?”

“Yes I am.”

“I want to get better….but I don’t want to go to ski school.”

And that is it! Right there, that conversation convinced me and my like-minded colleagues to set up TDCski.

Here was a skier on a chairlift, with an obvious aspiration to improve but to them, the thought of going to “ski school” was just not going to cut it.
They wanted to take the skills they already had and they wanted to ski the mountain, be challenged and achieve new heights in their performance.

For them, the idea of Ski School came with connotations of standing in line and skiing one by one to be told what they were doing wrong.
Where’s the fun in that?

TDCski Ski Coaching safe, fun and challenging
Safe, Fun, Positive and Challenging

The funny thing is that a lot of “Ski Lessons”, run by good instructors, don’t have those negative aspects to them, but that remains the perception!

Giles, Paul, Phil and myself (founding four), talked about this and we realised that we already ran our ski lessons in a way that facilitated improvement and challenged the students. We used the tools that we had all learnt with BASI (British Association of Snowsport Instructors) and we made sure that our students really got to improve their performance. It was not just about technical issues, there were tactical and psychological approaches too (plus a few others but let’s not get too geeky!). We would keep students moving, we would give what were perceived as “tips” and we would set the environment to allow our students to practice and apply them. We kept things simple, but precise.
People liked it, it was safe, fun, positive, challenging.
People improved, did lots of skiing and had a good time.
People described it as Ski Coaching!!!!

Turns out our Ski Lessons were in fact Ski Coaching, or at least that was the perception.

So what did we do? Well in 2002 we stripped away all the words that implied those old, ski school connotations.
At TDC – The Development Centre – there were no more instructors, we were coaches; there were no more lessons, there were sessions and clinics; we weren’t a Ski School, we were a training and Development Centre.

…turns out that nobody searches for “ski coaching” not even people who want it!

This is still our ethos today, but with the advent of the internet it turns out that nobody searches for “ski coaching” not even people who want it! So all the old school words had to come back in especially on the website.
But still to this day, we call our-selves coaches and we run clinics.

The difference between “Ski Lesson” and “Ski Coaching” is at the heart of everything that we do.

The Mountains Still Look The Same

by Colin Tanner – Ski Coach!

Paul, Giles, Colin and Phil started The Development Centre in Val d’Isere 2002 www.tdcski.com

Special VIP SKI Package Weeks

Off Piste, Performance Clinics and Intro to Ski Touring.

24th March and 21st April

We have teamed up with top chalet operator VIP SKI again to offer TDC clients a fantastic deal.

Included in the package is unbeatable luxury accommodation in a fully catered VIP SKI chalet, flights, transfers and a place on a TDC Clinic.

Click here VIP SKI to book your place and see full package details.

Dates and prices

TDCski and VIP SKI are offering this fabulous package in March and April 2019.

24 March 2019

  • 7 night holiday & 3-day ski clinic – package price £1199 pp
    – saving £455
  • 7 night holiday & 5-day ski clinic – package price £1249 pp 
    – saving £516

21 April 2019

  • 7 night holiday & 3-day ski clinic – package price £929 pp
    – saving £296
  • 7 night holiday & 5 day ski clinic – package price £949 pp
    – saving £276

Clinic Levels

We are passionate about helping people really improve their skiing in an enjoyable and relaxed environment.
Our Clinics are adapted to fit the goals of the group and the conditions on the day.

CONFIDENCE CLINIC (on request) – for strong green run skiers…improve and consolidate on the basics of ski technique, learn to make easy flowing turns in control

DISCOVERY CLINIC (on request) – for strong blue run skiers…discover more of the mountain, make skiing easy, learn how to ski more challenging terrain, increase your speed whilst maintaining control, learn to carve

DEVELOPMENT CLINIC – for strong red run skiers…improve your technique, take on steeper slopes, ski more runs with greater confidence, take on different snow types to develop your performance

DEVELOPMENT PLUS CLINIC – for strong red run /ok black run skiers…use the skills you already have to take on more varied slopes, start to learn the basics of skiing bumps and skiing off the piste

CHALLENGES CLINIC – for strong black run skiers…take on new goals in the bumps, on the steeps, in difficult snow, on the piste; challenge yourself – there are always ways to get better…

INTRO TO SKI TOURING – for skiers with some off piste experience, no touring experience required.
Ski Touring is called “Ski Randonnée” in French, and it requires some specialist equipment. The first essential is ski touring bindings that lift at the heel when walking uphill but lockdown when you are ready to descend. You will also need skins that are fitted to the base of your skis when climbing. Skins prevent the skis from sliding backwards but allow the skis to slide forwards.

To Book a VIP SKI package week please contact VIP SKI – website.

Some of the above courses are available without the package deal, if you are looking to take part on these dates, then please email us
[email protected] or call +33615553156

Jan 27th 2017 Snow Conditions Val d’Isere Tignes

This week Clare is telling us all about the current snow conditions in Val d’Isere and Tignes…

Conditions On Piste Are Fantastic…Again

TDCski Coach Clare
Clare’s Report

Dustings of snow, Off Piste is good, can be wind effected, some good snow in the gullys.

Things are looking good for February.

Watch a honest and open summary of the current snow conditions.

If you are keen to see this seasons reports then be sure to watch out for them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo.

Keep Watching!!!

TDCski The Development CentreSki Lessons Val d’IsereSki Lessons Tignes

Surviving Winter

OK, “surviving” might be a bit strong, but keeping warm on the slopes in the middle of winter can be a challenge. As well as the main clothing like jackets and trousers, there are other things that can make a big difference for people who struggle to stay warm:

Wear Thermals

Extremities get cold first. It is what the body does to protect itself from cold. So, if your hands or feet get cold, it might not be down to the gloves or boots, but because you haven’t got enough layers on. Wear good thermals, and if your hands and feet are still cold, wear another jumper.

Wear Thermals TDCski
Wear Good Thermals

Helmet and Hat

Helmets can expose the neck to cold mountain air. Neck warmers, thin balaclavas or multipurpose tubes keep you toasty warm. Like scarves, but better.

Get your feet out

Particularly for skiers: if your feet have been cold and numb for more than an hour, you need to warm them up. Get inside, take off the boots and get the feet warm again. This will allow you to ski again afterwards, rather than developing serious cold injuries.

Lange Boots
Get Your Feet Out

Dry your boots

Damp or wet boots are bad news. You need to dry your boots overnight, so if the hotel or apartment doesn’t have specific boot heaters, you need to make your own arrangements. Portable boot dryers work really well and are easier than balancing boots on radiators.

Giles Lewis Dynastar
Dynastar Skis

Giles Lewis is an ambassador for Dynastar skis and Lange boots. He is a ski Instructor with the development centre, who operate in val d’isere Tignes and the Three Valleys, FranceHe is a trainer and examiner of Instructors for BASI and a member of the British Demo team.

 

www.tdcski.com

#tdcski #basi #valdisere #dynastar #lange

What’s New in the 3 Valleys?

This Summer sees a lot of work going on around the 3 Valleys with 3 new lifts going in.

In Mottaret the old fixed chairs of Arolles & Table Verte are removed along with the Combes 4-man chair. A new Combes 6-seater routed to the right of where it is now and with a mid-station exit to a new floodlit green run is being constructed. A new beginners area with a short Arolles drag lift are also being built.

Over in the Belleville Valley the occasional bottleneck of St Martin 2 is to be relieved with an upgrade to a 6 seater hi-speed detachable hooded chair with the old 4-man being moved to replace the old Bettex 2-man chair to now give access to the bottom of the Gros Tougne piste for direct access in to Les Menuires.

Watch La Société des 3 Vallées video animating some of the new upgrades

Are you Skiing in Courchevel, La Tania, Meribel, Motteret, St.Martin or Les Menuires?

Why not try a Private Development with TDCski in the 3 valleys this winter ?
There’s no better way to hone old and new skills than to take a 3 hour private development lesson with one of our BASI 4 coaches.
We can tailor each lesson specifically to your requirements and concentrate on your strengths and weaknesses to produce a better performance all over the mountain.
Lessons start at 9am or 1pm and are available at just 250€ for 1-4 people.
We can meet you in Courchevel, La Tania, Meribel, Motteret, St.Martin or Les Menuires.
To book contact [email protected] or call +33 6 85 88 05 91

TDCski Meribel
Hone Your Ski Skills with TDCski coaching

HeliSki in Val d’Isere, France

In the Vanoise national park that incorporates Val d’Isere and Tignes, TDC coaches and clients ski to extremely cool and inaccessible places, then get a helicopter back out. Being dropped on top of a mountain is not permitted in France, but getting picked up in certain places at the bottom is fine.

photo credit Siobhãn Miller
photo credit – Siobhãn Miller

Some of our coaches have had the requisite training and been signed-off allowing them to call in the helicopter and arrange the pick up. Amongst other things, this entails stacking skis, pacing out distances, and sticking your arms up in the air facing the correct way (over simplified).

Destinations that the development centre heliski guide / instruct to include:
Lac du Chevril – big dammed reservoir below Tignes, usually via an exhilarating route down.
Bonneval – over the back of the Pissillias Val d’Isere Glacier and down the other side.

Bonneval HeliSki TDC
The Heli works out way cheaper than a taxi. Credit google maps

The heli pilot (undoubtedly the coolest looking guy I’ve ever met) can then drop back to the top of Solaise, bottom of La Daille, or in Val Claret to continue the off piste experience.

HeliSki Pilot

If any of this takes your fancy, then speak to our office [email protected] about arranging a half day trip (instructor and heli) from 340eu, or just bolt on a helicopter ride to your already arranged lesson, from 115eu

Bon Ski!

“Perfect day! Couloir & chopper action – tick! Thanks TDC” – Fliss

“Best day skiing of my life!” – Holly

Sleeping in your car for a Ski Season

At the start of this season in Val d’Isere, the TDC coaches were invited to welcome drinks and canapés at various high class chalets dotted around this prestigious resort.  Oysters, cavier, mini hamburgers, mini yorkshire puds with roast beef, washed down with plenty of Champagne and vin rouge.

Things were not always like this for us… Coming through the instructor ranks and modular exams to reach Level 4 ISTD, most of us were a bit strapped for cash flow at some point, if not the whole ordeal.

Steve and Charlie, each braved a season in their cars to keep the expenses down.  Whilst I slept in my car, or pitched a tent for all of the modules that I could take back in the UK.  Here are some lessons learned, funny stories, and off putting reasons to do the same:

I remember being on my Level 1 course in at an indoor slope, and spending the 5 nights in a layby of an A-road 10 minutes from the centre. One night I heard a very very loud tap on the window by my face and awoke to a policeman shining a torch in my befuddled eyes. It was one of those wake ups where your heart can’t quite keep up with all the adrenaline and starts to thump so hard you think you’re dying. “What you up to?” said the copper… In my heightened state I replied “sleeping you idiot, what do you think I’m doing?”, somewhat surprised and affronted the copper states “oh, like that is it. Well I thought you might be paying your road tax which expired last month!”

Another cold wet night, I emptied my pockets onto my roof (slept in trousers for warmth), before starting the faff of getting in my sleeping bag having removed my shoes without banging my or getting feet wet on the gravel carpark.  Forgot all about the wallet and phone on the roof until I saw them disappear into oblivion down the motorway the next day!  -Terry

So when little Steve wanted to grow up into a good looking, skilful, tanned and inspiring ski instructor, he set his sights on working in the ‘jewel in the crown’, aka Val d’Isere.  Money was tight and his pockets not deep enough, so being an enterprising person, he hatched a plan; save money by living in his Citroen BX Estate car for the season and offering people transfers to and from the airports for pocket money.  What could go wrong…

In the middle of the night he once got locked out whilst ‘watering the plants’ (the good old days of unreliable central car locking) and had to smash a rear window to get back in, and by the morning a blizzard had buried him alive in his car.

He regularly wore 15 layers to sleep in, on top of dirty clothes, towels and spare bedding all inside his sleeping bag.  In the morning it was a surreal experience to ‘strip’ off to go skiing! This all kept the ‘drive to succeed and qualify as an instructor’ alive.

In the good old days of the 1999/2000 season you had the luxury of being able to use your season pass to access the swimming pool, so showering and shaving and finally warming up was the daily ‘luxury’ for young Steve.  Spending the millennium in the car was perhaps one of the most unique ways of spending the most ‘memorable’ of nights on record!  Make sure your drink ‘short’ drinks rather than pints so as to avoid middle of the night loo stops, but most important of all; learn some chat up lines and practice them regularly!  -Steve’s parents never/don’t know about all this…

The vehicle that stepped up to the task of an alpine residence for me (Charlie), was a trusty Peugeot 406 diesel estate.  And from my wealth of experience it’s worth noting that 8hrs sleep won’t cut it, 10-12hrs was the norm for me. 9pm-7am was quite common without so much as rolling over.  I put it down to breathing in cold air which I presume makes your body work harder.

We all have low points but living in temperatures down to -35 C, you can encounter some rather interesting ones!  After quite a skin full I somehow made it back to the Pug, although it would have been better if I hadn’t.  Sometime in the middle of the night I decided to relieve my uncomfortable sleep by opening the boot for some extra fresh air.  In my slightly compromised state I missed the fact there was a snow storm going on.  It’s not often one has to dig through snow just after waking up.  Once breached, I realised that the entire car was full of snow, to the ceiling at the drivers end, then gradually slopping down to the boot!  The whole of the next day involved removing snow and desperately trying to dry bedding before the next night, all with a raging hangover.

Aside from the air being rather chilly, any food freezing and the struggle to keep your drinking water in liquid form, one has the joy of condensation!  This is quite a problem after a time because the water vapour from breathing, coats everything in moisture which freezes, layer after layer.  This simply keeps on building up unless removed.  Opening the window does little to slow the process and that’s a rather bone chilling method (see above).  Here is where I invented possibly the greatest solution to a problem since getting a paid job.  My answer to condensation was a medical face mask with two tubes containing one-way valves.  The air I inhaled was drawn from the inside of the car and the moisture ridden stuff that was exhaled, diverted down the other tube which made its way to the outside, resulting in a dry car!  How I failed to make my millions from this I’ll never know.

It’s refreshing not to have a fixed post code but it does mean the neighbourhood can vary, at times for the worse. In some resorts I would cycle everywhere and this means having a bike locked to a wheel.  If you didn’t already know, drunken people love bikes, a lot as I found out. Every few weeks I would hear a confused, intoxicated individual tugging at my bike.  This should have sparked fear into me but instead this was a time of hilarity.  I would creep toward the driver’s seat, put the key in, set stereo to come on at max volume, the lights to come on when I start the engine and get ready to press the horn at the same time.  The reaction on making all this noise to the unsuspecting bike borrower was priceless.  Often knocked off their feet or bouncing off the car opposite they would then gallop off through the car park.  The only negative side effect to this technique was that I would struggle to sleep again through laughing to myself.

The first question asked when talking about this way of skiing is why?!  Why suffer in a car for weeks on end just to get in a few extra hours of snow time:

1. I had an obsession with skiing and was willing to do anything stay out.  I dreamt about skiing, watched countless ski films and researched much of the history of skiing especially in the off-piste arena.

2. I had almost no money and couldn’t wait at home for savings to build up while winter was in full swing.  It sounds silly that I couldn’t just have saved a stack of funds to live normally but I just couldn’t bring myself to wait, especially once I had the bonkers idea of roughing it.

In conclusion, if I was faced with the same situation, with the knowledge I have now, I wouldn’t think twice about making a reservation in the Peugeot hotel.  -Charlie

Charlie aged 36 years in one season...
Charlie aged 36 years in one season…

Ski Resort Jobs – to becoming a Ski Instructor…

The TDC team have a great deal of experience in ski resort work from before they became qualified ski instructors.  We gained valuable experience (and stories) along the way.  Offices aren’t for everyone and the daily grind of academia can get you down too – so why not pack a bag and become an instructor?  If you choose somewhere like Val d’Isere,  then it’s likely you’ll be thinking about part-time or full-time work to fund the training and exams required to achieve the highest qualification in ski teaching.

Popular Option: Take part in a GAPski course for your Level 1 & 2, this will include: accommodation, food, courses, training, free skis and lots more!

Ski Bum with ample savings: you may wish to rent a lovely apartment and do the luxury ski bum thing, getting loads of skiing done, building your skills towards becoming an instructor and maybe taking on a level 3 or 4 course such as these.

Ski Bum with limited savings: you could still do the ski bum thing.  But it could mean sharing a studio apartment with five (or more) people!  Who generally won’t be keen on washing or cleaning.  But you’ll probably be so busy skiing it won’t matter.  It’s a great option saving money to put towards those instructor exams.

Ski Bum with extremely limited savings/debts: before talking about getting a job, there is one more option and this should be seen as a last chance saloon; sleep in your car for a season!  [There will be a complete blog article on this next week]

The seasonaire predicament
The seasonaire predicament

Get a job: if funds are limited then there are a number of jobs in resort that will help keep a roof over your head and facilitate moving towards becoming an instructor.  There will be three main aspects to your season: work, ski, & party.  It will be tempting to try and do all three – though, will quickly become apparent that at least one of these has to give.  Best not to let that be work!  So really the choice is between skiing and playing.

Chalet work: this is a good choice if you want someone else to pay for your accommodation, lift pass, ski hire, food (& wine if you’re cunning)!  The hours are perfect for maximising ski time – once you’ve struggled through the initial hectic weeks, you should be out by 10AM and shredding powder (or practising your snowplough).  I worked for YSE and thoroughly enjoyed my time.

Ski rental shop:  also a good option – all the better if you can work 30 hours over just the weekend!  Get some sleep and you have 4 days off!  You’ll work with all the gear, and hopefully end up having some idea.  These hours also count towards those required for your BASI level 1/2 qualification.  Snowberry is a good bet.

Ski school office:  You’ll find out everything you need to know about the inner workings of a ski school.  You’ll have access to free lessons and advice, be able to work out the ups and downs of life on the hill and learn first-hand about the trials and tribulations of the long winding road of instructor exams.

Stagiere / Trainee Instructor:  It’s possible to work for a French ski school as a stagiere with a BASI Level 2 and test technique pass (slalom race).  This is a great job and the ski school will usually offer plenty of support in finishing your diploma.

Other options:  Bar work – if you can make sure you don’t party too hard after your shift you can still manage a good day on the hill.  Waitressing work – ditto.  Nannying – limited skiing, unless work is thin on the ground and then limited funds.  Driving – you might find yourself working a lot when the lifts are open.  Chalet maintenance – good choice, only if the chalet is falling down do you really need to curtail your ski day.  Band/Solo musician in bars (tres cool).

Whatever you decide to do, whatever route you take, the key is to maximise ski and exam time – some jobs lend themselves to this more easily than others and some companies too.  Do your homework about expectations so the job’s and yours meet somewhere in the middle.  Working for TDCski, the development centre, we are all qualified to the highest level BASI 4 ISTD, with French equivalence.  If you get the balance right – work enough to live, play a bit and ski ski ski… you could be teaching on the slopes in France too.

Coach Clare is currently teaching fulltime with tdc, after having a beautiful baby last April, managing the two is proving tiring, but probably nowhere near as tiring as her season as a chalet girl! [ed]

 

How to train your Monkey – Skiing Psychology

Have you ever heard a little monkey on your shoulder as you descend the pistes?  It may have a very insistent way of commenting on anything you do, and will not hesitate to tell you how rubbish you just skied that run or how steep the next pitch looks…

Self Talk in Skiing
Monkey on Your Shoulder

The monkey pretends to be doing you a favour as it reminds you of all your previous failures.  It never supports you in what you are doing and it will insist on the fact that you will never achieve results.  The monkey tends to speak in negative tones.  It judges, worries, comments, compares and complains.  The monkey is an outer image of how some of our minds work when they are left to their own device, untrained and untamed.

For various reasons some of us listen too much to our monkeys!  We have become so used to the internal background commenting on our lives that we mostly forget that we do have a say in the matter. We could spiral downwards as this repetitive negative self talk influences our performance; learning could therefore easily becomes full of fears.  In this instance, we are less likely to take risks, real or perceived.  This has a potential to stop our growth and learning and can leave us feeling deflated.

When out coaching our clients, friends, (and even colleagues), we come across a fair few of these shoulder monkeys, and managing the louder ones is an essential part of what we do.  We all have one and the moment we recognize our own monkey/negative self talk and learn to control it, our ability to learn improves rapidly and greatly.  This psychological factor, is for some, a far more critical focus towards improving our skiing than any technical input.

But how do we manage the monkey and turn negative self talk into positive self talk? How do we train it?

To start with, you have to make a decision.  You have to be willing to take the risk of stepping out of your comfort zone.  Let go of the control.  Be aware that doing this makes the monkey jump and scream on your shoulder!  Take no notice of it!  You want to do this because this is where we know we learn new skills.  Learning starts where your comfort zone ends.  You must accept the feeling of being vulnerable and uncomfortable.

Tell your monkey to stay calm and carry on.  Be focussed on what you want, not the monkey.

For the TDC coaches, whatever your level, this is the very core of why we love our jobs so much! Helping people make that jump and realize that they still have two feet to stand on, is très rewarding.  Monkey negotiation is amongst our favourite disciplines and a lot of our experience obviously comes from training and taming our own monkeys.

Listen to your thoughts….

Be witness to what your monkey is telling you.  Just listen though, don’t evaluate or judge.

You will soon realise the separation between the voice of the monkey and you. This will give you the insight to change your self talk.  Are you filled with self doubt?  Do you tell yourself that you can’t do it?  When your heart is racing, and you fail to commit, your monkey can beat you up for being ‘weak and useless’.  You can even visualize yourself tumbling down the piste, and you haven’t even started!  Is it the same old record playing over and over again?

Once you learn to witness your thoughts you can take charge of them, the monkey will lose its power.  You will have started the process of taming and training your monkey.

Secondly….

If your monkey is being very loud and you can hear the negative self talk, think STOP! Visualize a big red/white stop sign.  Give yourself a moment to clear your mind and replace the negative talk with positive self talk.

For example let your sentences start with I will… instead of I can’t…  Tell yourself what you want to do.  “I am learning to be a great skier”, “I will make 10 smooth relaxed rounded turns Now”.  Mime a song and ski along to the rhythm.  Really simple realistic positive affirmations like these can shut off the negative self talk.  It does take practice and perseverance but over time control of self talk can become a very powerful tool in your tool box.

Override the negative self talk, and it will help you maintain control over personal feelings and behaviours, thus gaining confidence and improving learning.

Lastly….

Laugh at yourself… A lot!  Have fun.  You are allowed to be less than perfect.  Take a leap of faith and you might fall but you might also succeed.  If we hang out in our comfort zones, we mistakenly attach ourselves to the idea that the world is a predictable safe place.  That is an illusion which can set us up for frustration and disappointment.  Learning is change.  Change implies that something is done differently, and it starts with our thoughts, with ourselves.  With a choice.

So next time you go out in the mountains, have fun, take that monkey for a ski, find the edge of your comfort zone and then leave it (take care, and maybe listen a bit when jumping off cliffs though).

We would love to hear any stories about your monkey and how you may have trained it.

Coach Lena works to eradicate and make extinct shoulder monkeys, but it should be noted that she loves all furry animals and is very almost a vegetarian [ed].

Lena and Clare
Lena, and that’s Clare over her shoulder, not a monkey