Monday, 29 October 2012

saas fee

The kids just finished "half term", a week long holiday that gives everyone a break just when they are all getting settled into the routine of being back at school!   

Driven partly by knowing this is our last go-around living here in Switzerland, but also by our love of all things skiing, Jeff and I decided to take the kids to Saas Fee.  Quite quickly, our family getaway evolved into a larger trip that included Jeff, myself, Katja (a phenomenal ski coach) and a total of 11 kids whose skiing keenness matched our own.  

the group gathers in Saanen

Saas Fee is a vehicle-free village.  We arrived at the village parking lot, left our vehicle and loaded up all our gear into an "elektro" (kind of a cross between an electric golf cart and a small pick up truck or van).  The kids and I wandered through the village to the Hotel Mistral where we were staying.

jeff rides the elektro, loaded up with all our gear

The first morning, we were all a little jumbled.  Sweaty and awkward, we juggled our equipment for the first time in months.  Most of us wore our shoes and carried our boots.  Rookie mistake.  Not only did we have backpacks to carry, but also skis, poles and then heavy boots dangling over our shoulders, whacking everyone around us and sliding to the ground every few minutes.  We staggered our way through two gondolas and then a metro (funicular) - a 45 minute ride that took us from 1800m in the village up to the "top top" where the glacier sits at 3500m.  

lining up for the first gondola

At the top and once we got on our skis, we all felt more "at home" and we were off...

It was quite the scene up there.  Among others, the Swiss, Canadian, French, Spanish, Finnish + Russian teams were training GS, slalom, ski cross, freestyle, boarder cross and even the Canadian para-alpine skiers were there.  Everyone's heads were on swivels, trying to take it all in (even me, I have to admit).   Hard not to be impressed and inspired by the talent and hard work of all those athletes gathered on a single glacier where you could see almost everyone from any vantage point.  Graydon carried a Sharpie in his pocket all week, asking who was who, darting off in search of autographs.  A little shy at first, he made me come with him to say hello to some of the Canadian coaches.  It's always a comfort to connect with people from "back home" and see the red maple leaf.  
Over the four days, we skied hard, did dryland training, tuned our skis, had meetings, explored the village, ate great meals, laughed and enjoyed each others' company, both on and off the glacier.   

Back in Saanen, we were welcomed by snow flurries, turning our vibrant green valley into a winter scene.  Perfect timing.  Our local glacier opens back up this weekend and now, we are ready for the ski season...

Some other pics from the trip...

the village of saas fee

watching the ski cross athletes on their track

the end of a long training day...

swiss speed team technician hard at work in our hotel

esmée eats her lunch in between training runs

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