We not only survived…we did very well!  As a result of the Level 1 tests taken this last week, for nearly all SnowSkoolers Friday night was for celebration.  All the boarders and nearly all skiers passed but for a couple, there was bitter disappointment when they discovered they had only just missed the mark.  To their credit, they were generous their congratulations to the others and plan to get right back on that pesky horse and re-sit the test later.

But back to the beginning…

It was a wobbly start to the week when we received news Bradley wasn’t going to be back with us on Monday as planned.  Having sung at his sister’s wedding and then left to get back to Heathrow, his flight took off on time only to develop engine trouble and have to return for repair.  This delayed his arrival in Singapore to such an extent he missed his connection to Christchurch.  Phone calls and text messages zapped around the globe and all Bradley could do was hole-up in the 5-star hotel and give room service a hammering and attempt death by mini-bar.  The good news came that he was allowed to join the exam on the second day without penalty – and he subsequently passed!

Meanwhile, the others headed up the mountain to start their exam on Tuesday.  While SnowSkool has the largest group training at Cardrona, our students are mixed in with those from the smaller operators and some good friendships have developed.  However, many other candidates training elsewhere in New Zealand also arrived to take the exam with the number swelling to 70 so groups had only one, maybe two, SnowSkoolers in each. 

In addition to the unfamiliar faces came unfamiliar weather – rain.  Yep…it rained down in town and it rained up at the mountain on the first two days of the exams.  At higher altitudes it might have come out of the sky resembling large flakes but as soon as it hit, it dissolved and sank into jackets, pants, gloves, hats….everything.  Everyone was quickly wet through but, reluctant to complain to their examiners, they sported that stiff British upper lip and ploughed on valiantly.  Well done to them – they had been told enthusiasm and commitment counted and they displayed it in spades.  The story goes that the worst day skiing or riding is still better than the best day at work but being a fair weather skier myself, I remain unconvinced of this perspective and was glad to be at home, warm and dry. Nonetheless, most returned at the end of the first day pleased with their performance and feeling encouraged.

As mentioned at the beginning, nearly everyone passed their L1 and we’re really pleased with and proud of not just the results but with how hard the group worked at it.  They received some outstanding scores but also realise it’s a big step up to the Level 2s.  There are special plans in place for those few who need to sit their L1s later while still preparing for the L2s - missing out this time is not the end of the world.

While Saturday was a quiet one for most after some heavy-duty celebrations (and a few commiserations), on Sunday some headed back up the mountain on what turned out to be a day of really poor visibility.  Perhaps in the grip of new confidence that comes with being freshly qualified instructors, this lot built their own jump.  As the photos attest, it worked a whole lot better for one than for another - all walked away in one piece so don’t cringe too much when you see Adam P’s landing!  After such a big week, last night we headed to one of our favourites, Amigo’s Mexican restaurant, for a carefree Sunday night with an enchilada or three.

Next weekend, the majority are heading to Queenstown to stay overnight on Saturday and explore another of the South Island’s beautiful lakeside snow sports’ gateways.  Hopefully, we’ll return with some fun photos to share.

All we need to do now is keep our fingers crossed for the snow gods to smile on us.

Until next week

Marion and Jamie


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