February half term and the first ski trip that the school has run for a few years. Flachau, Austria, 27 hours on a coach but the excitement was felt by all. We left Tonypandy on Friday at 5pm and arrived at our hotel on Saturday late evening to a well received 3 course hot meal. After our food, our boots and skis were fitted and we were all just rearing to go! The next morning we were fed, watered and out of the hotel for half 8 to get to the slopes for 9. The first resort that we skied was Flachau itself. There were 3 groups of students and Mr O’Brien, Dia John, Harri and Ryan as the professional group. That first morning was extremely intense, painful and long. It was surprisingly warm and we all needed to stop for some food and water. I personally was ready to snap the skis over my knees. In my group everyone seemed to be picking it up so easily, particularly Jess Evans and Catlin Clark. Lewis had had a few prior lessons and it showed. I didn’t mind being the laughing stock for the first 4 days.

Day one over and some aching legs but no bumps, result! Off to a café after dinner to experience Austrian curling. It involved sliding wooden discs down compacted snow. The idea was to keep the puck as low to the snow as possible. Although Daniel Boyce tried swinging it around his own head and ended up with a bloody nose!

Day two, back at Flachau and more of the same, well for me anyway, but all the students in all the groups were improving rapidly. The evening activity involved an evening in the local swimming pool. This was a brand new building opened at the beginning of this year. It had indoor pools, outdoor pools, salt-water Jacuzzi, a diving board and swimming lanes and two slides that frightened Mr O’Brien to death. Very relaxing and eased some of the aches and pains. That was after the surprise of all as we walked into the changing rooms and found they were unisex!!

Day 3 and we moved to a place called Flachauwinkl (no laughing please kids). We skied the resort for one day, it was hard work. It snowed heavily all day and the restaurant ran out of food for those few groups that came in last. The groups had slight changes in personnel but it was another day where all made huge leaps in their ability. After our evening meal we went along to the evening activity, sledging. All I can say about it is very fast, dark and the students loved it, staff not so much!! Cori Jones had a bit of a bump to the head and spent the night in the local hospital as a caution. He still hasn’t told me if the hospital breakfast was better than the hotels.

On day 4 we arrived at a place called Zauchensee. A spectacular place that dropped down into a huge bowl on the other side of the mountain with more slopes for all abilities. The weather had improved and the snow was fresh. We were having a few people with aches and pains by day 4 but most were skiing. The restaurant was a marked improvement on Flachauwinkl (still no laughing please). We did not eat in the hotel on that day as we had our pizza and bowls night (although they did not have any pizzas in the restaurant). Congratulations to my team for their hard fought victory.

Day 5 was again skiing at Zauchensee, again the weather was perfect and skiing getting better, even for myself, Miss Bushell and Mrs Divall. We even had time to share a cup of coffee with PC Tipple in the café half way up the slopes. Ben Taylor had a lift down the slopes on a snow mobile after a little bump, where as Jonah Huntley, Liam Hale and Smithy were ready to ski the black slopes! Or so they thought. As this was the final night we had a small presentation evening in the hotel where Phil (the ski rep) presented the students with a certificate and some awards for different things during the week.

The final day skiing, what a week we all had. Every person involved had made massive improvements and even I was skiing down red slopes with Miss Bushell, Mr O’Brien, Mrs Divall, Dia John. Harri and Ryan who had now moved onto skiing on blades showed us how it was done and loved every second. The whole bus was gutted that we had skied our last, although very tired and not particularly looking forward to the trip back home which we would be starting in 3 hours time. So back to the hotel, load the bus, shower, meal and we were off again. The return trip seemed a lot quicker for all although we had a 3 hour stop at the ferry port. We arrived home in Tonypandy at about half 7 on the Saturday evening to the smiling faces of all the parents. Well I think they were smiling anyway!

I would just like to take the opportunity to thank all the staff with all their help in all aspects of the trip. Miss Bushell, Mrs Divall, Dai John and Mr O’Brien that without his expertise in past trips (and personally his skiing tips) the trip would not have run as smoothly as it did. I would also like to thank Joseph Couch of year 13 who really helped out the staff and the students for the whole week. And lastly the students, the behaviour was outstanding throughout the week. We had many laughs and thanks to Jonah Huntley for his constant entertainment at the staff dinning table each evening!

Mr Ben Jackson