And there I was, thinking how it had been such a damp and dismal week that I wouldn’t have many good photos for the newsletter when we pulled one out of the bag.  Yep – you guessed it – jelly wrestling!  One of our SnowSkoolers not only entered the local competition, she won!  It was indeed a proud “first” in our company’s history.  Now don’t panic – and put aside those cliché, sleazy images of scantily clad women.  Shame on you!  It was good clean fun – a truly international sporting event, which we now believe deserves Olympic status for London in 2012 - with great spirit from the crowd and competitors alike....but more about that later, with (phew!) some great photos, which are happily shared with good cheer by everyone involved.

Back on the slopes, we’ve had some wet and wild weather.  The good news was that storms were on their way but the bad news soon followed when we found out they were coming from the north west – that typically means good snow for the other local resort, Treble Cone but not for Cardrona, which gets most of its snow from southerlies.  A little fell early for us but it was fairly sloppy and the wind was strong, a combination which did little to improve snow conditions or spirits.  Later in the week, temperatures dropped and there were good falls so most headed up on the Friday to test out the fluffy stuff.  Saturday was a great day but the resort was closed on Sunday as yet another of the big storms coming our way in quick succession rolled through, bringing with it another 20cm of snow at Cardrona in no time yesterday.  Literally every one stayed home Sunday and played couch potato.

The trainers advise us that this last week, week six in the training program, is typically a flat one for the students.  They come off the high after Level 1 and the tough reality of Level 2 hits.  To the group’s credit, they have continued to work at it and a noticeable number reported a breakthrough towards the end of the week.  Teaching and techniques that weren’t making sense earlier in the L2 program started to click and there were some tired but contented smiles at the end of the week.  It was great to hear a number of them say, after a hard start to the week when new skills just weren’t happening, “That was my best day ever on snow” or, “Today I was told my turns were perfect”.

The main milestone this week for us was Samantha’s 18th birthday.  The group certainly got involved with celebrations a little early in Queenstown last weekend (some extra photos included this time), continuing throughout most of this week to peak on Friday night but capped off with Holly, Sally and Sam doing a sky dive from 15000ft on Saturday. 

But Saturday night saw a main event of another sort – the jelly wrestling.  Snowboarder Val surprised us all by entering the competition with only gentle coercion from some of the others.  Given the choice between that and the local final of Country Idol at Lake Hawea, we should probably count ourselves lucky.  Over half the group accompanied her to the Albertown Tavern to watch her go through three rounds unbeaten, including one against an enormous Maori woman, and claim the prize of $200 cash, a case of beer, a $50 bar tab and some predictably useless merchandise.  What more could you want indeed!  Richard took his role of coach/manager role for “The Valtron” very seriously.  He had the MC whip the crowd into a frenzy and play the theme to Rocky each time Val stepped in to the ring and left unvanquished.  The locals underestimated the import – Val’s fit and fast with a fierce competitive streak.  The first Kiwi opponent apologised in advance for any damage she may do but Val took her down emphatically, 10 – 2.  It was a complete hoot and Val was clearly the deserving winner.  But there were no sexist overtones – so inspired were two of our male SnowSkoolers, they asked permission to have a bit of a flail around in the pool.  The two good mates “”manned up” (and I use that phrase incredibly loosely) for combat in their boxer shorts and entertained the crowd so well with their impromptu performance that hotel management paid them $100 each as well.  The only disappointment was discovering that regular, edible jelly straight out of the fridge is not what’s used - probably, we now expertly surmise, because it would be too sticky.  Instead, it’s lumpy, grainy stuff.  Val generously shared her spoils with her avid supporters before they all headed safely home on the tavern’s shuttle bus.  It may not be on our usual curriculum but you can’t say we don’t offer rich life experiences far beyond learning how to ski or board well!  Honestly, this country is just too much fun, as shown at the link below.... 

Photos from Week 7

I’m sure most of you would like me to make mention of Australia’s loss of the Ashes (which, interestingly, was the lead main news item here the day after!) but I’m going to let it slide through to the keeper.  Back in Australia, my husband flew home that evening from the backcountry of NSW to Sydney and sat next to Glenn McGrath.  He assures me that between the two of them, they have it sorted, so watch out in two years’ time.  Personally, it’s like watching paint dry so I think I can valiantly soldier on.

There is only one more week of training before the Level 1 exams start for those taking them while the L2s start the week after. Boarders will swap trainers this week while skiers will be split from three into four groups for the final run-up to the exams.  The HPC is being incredibly supportive of all our candidates – we couldn’t ask for more individualised attention for those who need it.  The pass rate for Level 2 country-wide averages 70%, with SnowSkoolers typically doing better than this because of the quality of the training we receive from Cardrona’s HPC.  If any of our group doesn’t get through, it sure won’t be through lack of effort or commitment on behalf of the students or the trainers.

Hope you all have a great week.  We’ll be back in touch next Sunday – but don’t expect the same exhilarating level of news as jelly wrestling really is quite hard to top.


Marion and Jamie


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