Inspired by Sochi and need a ski instructor? Don’t worry, things are not as bad as Boris thinks…
Team GB’s haul of four medals at the Winter Olympics in Sochi was the best showing by a GB team since 1924. With British winter sports on the up at elite level, Ski Club of Great Britain is expecting a mass exodus of British people to European ski resorts like Chamonix and Morzine over the next few years. But what hope is there for people to learn when Boris suggests French instructors, “cost this country millions in the treatment of wholly unnecessary broken legs as well as retarded our progress up the medals rankings in the winter Olympics”?
People young and old, all across Britain have been inspired by Team GB’s contingent of ‘Fridge Kids’ who took part in Sochi 2014 this winter. Off the back of Sochi, Ski Club of Great Britain is predicting a myriad of British people to descend on dry ski slopes in the UK, and on French resorts like Chamonix and Morzine. 95% of people who skied last season are expected to return to European resorts this winter, and 75% of inactive skiers intend on returning within the next three years.
However, Boris Johnson warned on Sunday that by booking ski lessons through one of France’s big ski schools, British holiday-makers are likely to be matched with a native French, and possibly non-English speaking, instructor. He argued that ski schools run by UK nationals were difficult to find, and that the partnership of British student and French ski instructor is unlikely to be fruitful for the student - “wholly unnecessary broken legs” being the probable outcome.
In fact, there are lots of fantastic British ski instructors working alongside French ones all across the Alps, and the reality is that for most Brits learning to ski, the nationality of their instructor is irrelevant. What’s most important for any student is that their instructor matches their learning style and helps them to improve their skiing in a fun and safe environment so that they’ll come back year after year. The problem that Boris really alludes to is that finding an instructor who fits that profile can be difficult, and often left to chance.
It’s a problem that Nicola Broom, skiing enthusiast and co-founder of upmysport.com, is familiar with. She recalls, “In 2011 I was looking for a brilliant instructor to help me improve my skiing, but I found it hard enough to find any independent instructors, let alone the perfect instructor for me. Lots of my friends had the same problem; they often ended up giving up skiing after a poor learning experience at a big school or even started teaching themselves.”
To help solve the problem, less than a year later Nicola co-founded a London-based startup called upmysport. upmysport is dedicated to helping people meet their perfect instructor. It is a web and mobile experience bringing together the community of passionate sports instructors, and connecting them with the millions of people in the UK who need guidance in sport.
Launched in 2013, the community is growing, now featuring more than 400 lessons by instructors in both London and the Alps. That includes skiing and snowboarding lessons offered by both British and French instructors working in the French resorts of Chamonix and Morzine, and the 400 is set to grow as the instructors currently listing on upmysport are joined by others from resorts all over Europe and from the UK.
Those who have booked instructors from the UK before going on their skiing holidays have found the website particularly useful. Nurette Stanford was delighted to have found Alison Culshaw, a ski instructor in Chamonix, she tweeted, “@upmysport@Offpisteperform great holiday made AWESOME by Alison’s instruction!! Glad we found you both!”
With a successful Sochi for GB over, now is the time for Britain to shake off the tag of being a non-winter sports nation. As more people take to the slopes in the footsteps of their new sporting idols, upmysport are connecting them with their perfect instructor, increasing the chance that they’ll return the following year, and helping to make sure that the Sochi legacy is a long-lasting one.
To find your perfect snowsports instructor in Chamonix and Morzine, or to search for London-based instructors across lots more sports, click the links below:
upmysport is a UK-registered company, co-founded by Steve Brindley, Nicola Broom and Neill Pearman. The team is based in Central London, among a cluster of technology startup companies, and in the mountain town of Chamonix, France, the adventure capital of Europe and host of the first winter Olympic Games in 1924.