Woodsy started out on Sheffield Dry Ski Slope as a teenager and has quickly taken himself to the top of his game. On the way, he has won FIS medals, finished 5th in slopestyle at the Winter Olympics in Sochi and has legions of fans across the world.
When Eliose caught up with Woodsy at the Méribel Planks Clothing store she didn’t waste the opportunity and got him to share his top tips on perfecting tricks in the park.
1. Look where you are going & let your eyes do the trick:
Wherever the eyes go the body follows, looking where you are going and spotting your landing is the most important thing when setting out to do a trick.
2. Finger guns:
Point your fingers out in front of you as if you are going to shoot something – this is where your hands should be.
3. Hold the box:
Imagine you are holding the corners of a box in front of you, this helps to keep your shoulders and body open.
4. Z legs:
Your legs need to be z-shaped, pushing your shins into the front of your boots.
5. Imagine you’re an apple:
When you throw an apple it doesn’t change its rotation mid-air. You should do the same, imagine you are an apple and continue your rotation.
6. If landing switch look back up the hill:
When landing backwards it is easy to be nervous and land at an angle, spot your landing then immediately look back up the hill to straighten out the landing so you are on both feet.
Quick Guide to Méribel Snow Parks
Meribel is home to one of the best Freestyle Snow Parks in Europe…DC Area 43.
DC Area 43 currently has something for everyone, with a mini-pipe, super-pipe, side hips, rails, boxes and kickers (jumps) for intermediate – advanced park skier/boarders. The main drop into the park has a choice of 4 courses, on the left beginner/intermediate boxes, next blue and red kickers and sectioned off on the right a pro-line set up with multiple features. This truly is a park for all standards.
Keen British skiers flock to France each winter for the country’s spectacular ski slopes, vibrant après ski, wonderful family facilities and catered chalet holidays.
But there’s one more thing which keeps us coming back for more each year, the food! Not just in the chalets but on the slopes and in the resort restaurants.
History of Savoie Food
A large part of the French Alps sits across the Savoie region, and like any other region or départment in France, the Savoie has its own unique cultural, historical, political and social background.
A hugely varied terrain, much of the Savoie is covered by high-altitude mountain plateaux, steep gradients, deep river valleys, farmland and lakes, plus of course huge swathes of the land are covered in snow for half the year, so the people who historically lived and travelled here were very hardy folk.
Food sources had to be readily available and that meant their diet largely consisted of hardy vegetables, cheeses and cured meats.
Since the turn of the twentieth century, the Savoie has changed from a largely agricultural terrain to an area more readily associated with tourism and skiing, but the cuisine of the area is inextricably linked to the Savoie itself and over the years has proven hugely popular amongst skiing visitors from all corners of the globe – so much so that for many people the Savoie food is now a major reason to return to France for the annual ski trip!
Savoyarde cooking relies exclusively on products and ingredients from the area and, because of this, is unmistakably authentic. Staple ingredients include potatoes, which were grown over the summer and stored during harsh winters, and cheeses.
Of course, being an Alpine territory cheese making has always been a hugely popular pursuit in the Savoie and abondance, Beaufort, Tome and of course Reblochon cheeses all work wonderfully well with traditional Savoyarde fare. Cured meats also form a large part of the Savoyarde dishes we enjoy today, and they feature in a number of traditional recipes.
Perhaps the most instantly recognisable of all the Savoyard dishes, fondue is like no other meal! Wonderfully convivial and great fun to enjoy with friends, eating fondue involves placing hard bits of bread onto a skewer and dipping it into a pot of melted cheese.
There are two schools of thought on the history of the meal, one a lot more fun and interesting than the other. The traditional view is that fondue came about when poor mountain farming communities had experienced lean times and were forced to make meals out of nothing more than stale bread and hard cheese, so they melted the cheese down and ate it with the tough bread as a warm and hearty meal. The truth of the matter, if you believe the nay-sayers, is a lot less intriguing… fondue came about as little more than a marketing ploy to get punters
The truth of the matter, if you believe the nay-sayers, is a lot less intriguing… fondue came about as little more than a marketing ploy to get punters into restaurants when skiing because popular in the Alps. I know which one I’m happier believing!
Named after the cheese it’s made with, raclette is another wonderfully convivial dining experience – there are more flavours at play than with the fondue as well, and it’s a complete meal.
Potatoes are cooked in a pan of boiling water with the skins on, and placed on a plate alongside pickled gherkins, picked onions and a selection of dried meats.
Then diners take melted slices of raclette cheese and pour them over the dish before tucking in. It’s a hearty meal and leaves you fit to burst!
For a dish with as much flavour as tartiflette, it’s surprisingly simple to make. Butter is melted in a frying pan then finely chopped onions, bacon bits and thinly sliced potatoes are added.
Once the potatoes are nearly cooked you put them in an oven proof dish, layered with the bacon bits and onions. Then you cover the dish in strips of reblochon cheese and bake until melted and browned.
Tartiflette is a very old and very traditional Savoyarde recipe, but it’s one that anybody can try. Wonderfully simple to prepare, it tastes amazing and goes well with a crisp Savoyarde white wine.
These Savoyarde dishes are all wonderful in their own ways, and although no trip to the Alps is complete without one they are also perfectly simple to make and enjoy at home.
It’s all pretty carbohydrate-heavy though, but if you’re feeling too full after one of these dishes a shot or two of Genepi, the Savoie’s own digestif spirit, will sort you out in no time at all!
A great place to taste all these delicious dishes is the 3 Valleys. We have catered accommodation in Méribel and La Tania.
As the season comes to an end we really are going to miss our Chalet cakes. There is nothing better than coming back from a day on the mountain to the smell baking. A long standing Alpine Action favourite is our “Apple and Almond” cake. This mouth watering goodness, has a crisp outside and soft spongy middle. It lasts for ages if stored in a cake tin and if you like it as much as we do, you can even heat it up and serve it with a little cream for dessert.
Apple and Almond Cake
Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
50g of almond flakes (plus some extra for decoration)
1 tsp cinnamon
300g raising flour
pinch of salt
375g brown sugar
Icing sugar (optional for decoration)
Method: 1. Peel, core and slice apples.
2. Sift flour, cinnamon and salt into a bowl.
3. Stir in the brown sugar, raisins, eggs, almonds, melted butter, milk and apples.
4. Mix until smooth and pour into a greased and floured cake tin.
5. Cook for 45 minutes in a moderate oven (180ºC).
6. Stick a knife in the centre of the cake to check it is done, its should come out clean when removed.
7. Decorate with Almond flakes and a light dusting of icing sugar, or with almond icing, like Carmen in Chalet Telekie.
After a great week of skiing, delicious food in your catered chalet and little bit of aprés it is hard not to feel a little blue on the run back to the airport. There isn’t a 100% cure to the glumness inside but there are ways you can make yourself feel a bit better…
Talk about buying a place in the alps
“Maybe we should all chip in and buy a place in the alps” is how the conversation starts. You all know deep down that it won’t actually happen but that doesn’t stop anyone. Before the coach has arrived at the airport you have started a WhatsApp group and are sharing links to wildly unaffordable properties. One member of the group provides a spreadsheet breaking down costs that unlike your home has zero outgoings. In the arrivals hall while waiting for your luggage you all agree to look at how much you can afford to “put in” and promise to meet up soon to discuss it. You all leave happy and dreaming about the chalet you will never buy.
Consider a job as a chalet host
To avoid the post-ski holiday blues you could look into getting a job in the Alps next winter. Start by asking your host/driver/rep on that last day if they are enjoying their season. Undoubtedly they will say yes and stir up your desire even more. You can then spend the next few days after your trip applying for jobs and imagining how good you will be at skiing by the end of next season.
Book your next ski holiday
Beating the blues is all about having the next thing to look forward to. If you are out early in the season you could always book another ski holiday that season. Or you can start planning next winter’s ski trip and maybe go all out and put the deposit down. As they say booking a holiday is almost as exciting as going on one. It is worth noting that booking a ski holiday a season in advance can often be cheaper as many tour operators will honour the current season price.
Concoct an epic ski trip
Why stop at dreaming about your next ski holiday. Why not plan an epic snow chasing adventure like Travis Rice in The Fourth Phase in an attempt to abolish the sadness. You could keep it local and plan to ride every dry slope in the UK. Or maybe dream of riding a mountain on every continent, just imagine ticking off Antartica.
Buy some new ski kit.
For instant gratification get online and buy some stuff. During your holiday you will have decided that something needs replacing, maybe your jacket is a bit drafty or your goggles are scratched. It could be that you are still skiing in rear entry boots. A post ski holiday spending binge is the perfect way to cheer yourself up. Plus you get the 2nd tier of excitement when they arrive in the post and a 3rd wave of joy when after 10 months of never actually using whatever you ordered you discover it just before your next trip.
Start eating mountain style at home
They say food invokes memories so why not spend the week after your trip trying to recreate that meal you fell in love with that your chalet host cooked. Or maybe if you want more cheese and cream google a recipe for Tartiflette and indulge in some traditional Savoie food. You could even dig out the fondue kit that you found in the house when you moved in. Then get the ingredient from the supermarket and invite some friends round to indulge in melted fromage and ski stories.
Watch a ski or snowboard movie
Your final option is to wallow a bit longer, pull on your PJ’s, crack open a bottle of wine and stick a pizza in the oven. Then choose your favourite winter sports movie, snuggle up on the sofa, reminisce about the fun you had during your trip and dream of next time.
If you need some help getting over this year’s trip by planning for next year then take a look at our catered ski chalets in La Tania and Méribel. Or give us a call on 01273 466535.
In December we featured a typical favourite – chocolate cake, for January we have the humble Banana Bread. This classic loaf is a fabulous way to use up any uneaten bananas and is better when they are a little mushy. Magic in Motion ski school LOVE our Banana Bread and said Daisy from Chalet Alysson’s Banana Bread was the best they have eaten – now that is a BIG statement when ski schools are piled with cakes on a weekly basis!
So if you loved our Banana Bread as much a Magic in Motion then here is our secret to this simply classic afternoon tea treat:
Serves 10 Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 45 minutes
1 pot (yoghurt pot) of brown sugar
1 pot of natural yoghurt
¾ pot veg oil (not olive oil)
3 pots of self rasing flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 mushy bananas
Method: 1. Preheat oven to 180c.
2. Line and grease loaf tin.
3. Place all the ingredients in a bowl mix well then pour into loaf tin and bake.
4. Decorate with a sprinkle of icing sugar – maybe use your creative skills like our host Davina in Chalet Bouchot and use a seasonal stencil.
The beautiful thing about the 3 Valleys is there’s something for everyone. If you aren’t a skier/boarder or your body won’t allow the aches and pains that come with the sport, there is still so much to do. If you love the mountains; scenery, crisp air, breath taking views and fabulous lunch spots, you can still experience this at a slower pace. There are some stunning walks around Meribel and La Tania to keep you more than entertained.
One of our hosts Adrian from Chalet Cote Coeur has been out of action due to injury. He and his partner Gemma decided to adventure around the local landscape and see what La Tania walking trails have to offer. We interviewed them to find out more, here is their account of the Teppes Trail a beautiful, snowy, woodland walk:
Teppes Trail, La Tania with Adrian and Gemma from Chalet Cote Coeur
Starting out at the bottom of the Grand Bois lift, cross the bridge to the centre of the resort. Take a left towards the shops and walk up the steps between the Saucisse Savoyarde deli and and the Ski Lodge. Turn left at the top and follow the road for about 20 meters, then take a right up the steps leading to the Saboia residence. The top of these steps is the beginning of the Teppes trail. Follow the footpath through the woodland and enjoy your adventure!
Adrian and Gemma…What was your favourite part about the Teppes trail? When the trail went through the woods off the main track up to the picnic spot.
Would you say this is an easy walk? If not what ability do you think suits this kind of walk? Yes I would say it was easy, Adrian managed to do it with a broken collarbone.
What attire would you recommend for the trail? For example: snow shoes, normal shoes, poles etc… We went in our snow boots, wore thermals, ski jackets and took ski poles.
Are there any lunch/refreshment stops on the way? There is a picnic spot at the top of the trail with benches and a lovely view.
How long did the walk take you? It took us an hour to do the walk
Did you see any wildlife or interesting plants during your walk? We didn’t see any animals but we did see lots of animal tracks and there was an information board at the picnic spot telling you about the wildlife and plants.
Would you say that La Tania is an easy access resort for non-skiers? Yes I would there are many walks that you can do in the woods and up the mountains so there is a lot of variety and there are many snow shoe walks in Le Praz that we want to do as well.
For more information on walking routes and alternative activities, check out our “Non-Skiers” pages on the Alpine Action website…
La Tania non-skiers: CLICK HERE
How to make sure you are taking the best photos when you are skiing
With stunning mountain peaks, glinting white snow, bright sun, heavy fog or snowfall, spectacular valley views and high speed action, taking decent photographs in the Alps is a real challenge. Conditions can vary not only day to day but hour to hour, and there’s no one setting which will work for all conditions.
Point-and-click cameras set to ‘auto’ will often take decent images but they can only do so much and they’ll never do justice to the beauty of the Alps, but if you play around with the manual settings on your camera it’s surprising how much improvement you can see.
Whether you use a basic hand-held camera or a high-end DSLR camera the fact is that with a little practice, setting the camera to manual and mastering the shutter settings will almost always bring you higher quality pictures – the camera’s automatic setting isn’t always right!
How to take snow park photos and ski action shots
Everybody wants that one perfect shot of them zooming down the piste or nailing a huge kicker, which they can then load up to Facebook and show everyone how skilled they are on skis! Sadly the majority of action shots just don’t come out like that – they’re usually mis-timed or out of focus. Action photography is very tricky to get right!
The first thing to do is set the camera up correctly. To avoid blur you’ll need a very fast shutter speed, and to let enough light into the camera lens and compensate for the speed of the shutter you’ll need a wide open aperture. It’s well worth taking a few practise shots of people to get the settings right before you line up and take the perfect shot, as they’ll always vary.
Another key factor in successful park or action shots is the positioning of the camera. You can get wonderfully dramatic shots on-piste as well as off-piste if you shoot your subject as he or she skis town the slope towards you. In the park, amazing big-air shots can be captured by positioning yourself to the side of the kicker and following the skier down as he or she approaches the jump. Opening the shutter at the key moment takes practise and patience but when you get it right it’s far more rewarding than simply setting the camera to shoot 3 frames a second and picking the best one.
How to take scenic photos of snowy mountains
In the Alps you can wake up to bluebird skies and bright sun in the morning, but by the afternoon the weather has closed in leaving flat-light or low-light conditions which make photography a real challenge. The camera settings you use for each shot when taking scenic photos have to be adapted to the conditions at the time, so it’s always a good idea to take a few quick shots with slightly different light and shutter settings before choosing a setting you’re happy with and lining the shot up properly.
If it’s a bright and sunny day, attach the lens hood to the front of the camera. It blocks side light and lens flare which can so easily spoil a great scenic photograph. Line your shot up and avoid pointing the camera towards the sun. In sunny conditions you’ll need a fast shutter speed to avoid flooding the image with white light, and a very low ISO setting. It’s also worth closing the aperture quite a lot too, to stop excess light getting in and spoiling the image.
If you’re shooting in low-light or night time conditions it’s a very different story. You can slow the shutter down so it stays open longer and lets more light in, and perhaps use a tripod to avoid blurring the image. Other tricks to good low-light photography include keeping the aperture wide open so as much available light gets in a possible, and increasing the ISO setting. Bear in mind, however, that too high an ISO setting will ultimately damage the quality of the photo and it’ll look grainy.
The best thing to do when shooting out if the Alps, where conditions are so variable and the scenery is so beautiful, is simply to play around with your light settings before each shot. If you take the time to get to know the camera, you’’ll gain an understanding of what settings work best in certain situations and ultimately you’ll get a lot more out of your mountain photography. Happy shooting!
The 2016/17 winter season is here. Find out what to expect in Méribel & The Three Valleys in our pre-season preview.
Skiing started in the Three Valleys on the the 19th of November when Val Thorens turned on its lifts and welcomed skiers and boarders earlier than expected due to some seriously heavy November snow. Courchevel was also able to open some of its runs early due to the 120cm of snow that fell across the Alps. All that happend before the season truly kicked off, so what has this winter got in store for the 3 valleys? Lets find out…
As we said there has been loads of snow already and all that snow has laid down a great base for the season and the temperatures are staying low according to the long term forecast. That coupled with the 3 Valleys’ amazing ability to make snow this could be a great season. Méribel opens its doors for skiing on the 10th of December opening up the whole of the 3 Valleys for skiing until late April.
We couldn’t wait to get up on mountain so we went hiking on the 17th of November.
You can save €10 per lift pass if you are buying more than one as part of the new Duo Lift pass, you must be purchasing a 6 day pass for a valley or the whole area to get the discount.
Tubing in Mottaret is opening this winter meaning that you can spend your evening flying down the slopes in a rubber ring.
If you like to picnic on the slopes then there is good news as Méribel has opened some indoor lunch lounges complete with microwaves. These can be found in Méribel and Mottaret main lift stations.
There are also new lifts in Val Thorens, the Roc and Stades drag lifts are now a shiny new 6 seater chairlift and the Boismint has also been upgraded to take more passengers.
There is lots to look forward to in the 3 Valleys this season from the Ski Cross world cup in Val Thorens on the 5th of December for 5 days to the end of the season mega party that is the 3 Valleys charity day. Here are few to look out for…
December is a busy month with opening parties as well as Christmas and New Year celebrations all going on. But there is also the the FIS Ladies Alpine World Cup being held in Courchevel from the the 20th December.
One of the best events to watch in January is the annual British Armed Forces Combined Services Alpine Championships which is held in Méribel and will be in its 11 the year.
This month the resorts will celebrate Valentines day with various activities to help show your love. There will also be loads of children’s activities across the 3 Valleys as during the majority of the month there will be a region of France that has a half term holiday as well as the UK Half Term week starting on the 11th.
The big event in March is the Ronnie Loves Music Festival, hosted at the original aprés ski destination The Rond Point. This year Norman Jay MBE will return and there will be a set from 6 Musics Craig Charles playing music from his trunk of funk. There will also be some of the worlds top riders showing off on a specially build park. The event kicks of on the 20th of March.
As the season comes to a close there are a still some great events on. We have all ready mentioned the incredible 3 Valleys Charity day happening on the 12th of April and it will feature all the best Aprés ski bands. There is also the 3 Valleys Enduro event where you can take part in events across the ski area such as Giant Slalom and Ski Cross.
If your heading to the Three Valleys then you may want to tick of a few thing on the Méribel bucket list and you definitely don’t want to miss out on some of our favourite things…
You need to make sure you spend at least one afternoon dancing at the Folie Douce.
Spend your evenings hanging out at Jacks Bar in Méribel where they have live music nearly every evening as well as comedy and great drinks offers.
If your in La Tania make sure you grab some lunch in at Pub Le Ski Lodge as well as enjoying the evening entertainment.
Also don’t forget to get your photo taken in one of the 3 valleys giant photo frames.
Help us rank all of this seasons ski and snowboard innovations
We went to the London Ski Show to check out all of this winters newest technology. Below is a list of some of the best things we spotted. Help us work out which is the best by voting for your favourites.
Yep that’s right I failed again. But I fail in the same way every year and each year I promise to learn from my mistakes.
Each year I book myski holiday or holidays if I am lucky and each time I promise myself that it is time to improve. This is the year I will get better at skiing. For too many years my ability to ski has remained the same and probably if I plotted it on a graph from year to to year we would have seen it plateau for a while. The reason lies in that ski life mirrored real life as once I was old enough to leave ski school I did and I have never been back.
This means that I have never improved and have a technique so full of flaws that I now fear a ski lesson as much as a trip to the dentist. Which is why I have failed again this year.
Despite promising that I would have some lessons. I didn’t. I also made other “ski resolutions” which I failed to keep. I said to myself that this year I would hire a guide and hit the backcountry for a day. I did come close to achieving this if you count looking at the Méribel Guides website before I went on holiday.
I failed in my attempt to try the park out and see what I was missing out on. When I was younger I loved to hit the snow park. Now I stop at the the top of the park remember the thrill of “getting air” and the think about the pain it might result in. Then after those thoughts leave me, I start to pressure myself into proving that I still can do it. Psyched up I ski off towards the green kicker, I panic, swerve and ski off out of the park making out that I intended to do that all along.
I also failed in my promise to avoid aprés ski, chalet wine and general excursions to the pub. My failure to do this probably contributed heavily to my failure all round.
But do you know what. I had a good time it was probably one of the best ski holidays I have had.