Monarch Blog » Chemmy Alcott Monarch Airlines Official Blog Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:50:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Finishing school on the slopes – my ski etiquette tips Mon, 25 Feb 2013 11:37:23 +0000 Not many people know that I was sent to finishing school. Yes, shock horror, jaw dropping secret and very much not expected of someone whose job is to throw themselves down a mountain with guts, ‘ballsy’, rugged skiing.

However, those who do know me are well aware that I am often partial to exaggeration!

Chemmy Alcott shares her ski etiquette tips on the Monarch Airlines blog
Do: Bring your camera for some spontaneous shots of you and your friends (the altitude makes you rather silly)

I have to admit, I’ve bent the truth slightly.  I was merely sent on a week ‘crammer’ course for my 18th birthday. Instead of getting the much anticipated, banged up yellow metro which had been my brothers’ first car, my ‘gift’ was being sent to a place to be taught how to walk with a book on my head, how to arrange a household and yes, even, how to exit a low riding sports car without flashing my underwear. All very trivial stuff to an 18 year old tom boy who just wanted to spend all day on the slopes!

Nevertheless there were some areas that have helped ‘polish’ me. Social etiquette was of the utmost importance and a big focus of the course. In the dictionary etiquette is ‘the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.’ So since making my ‘profession’ being a ski racer, what have I learnt about etiquette on the white stuff?

What time should one be ready for the first ski of the day?
Now we have all been on holiday and gone down to the pool after breakfast to see that the only free deck chairs face the parking lot of next door’s hotel. The frustration. The annoyance at those ‘keenos’ who have already reserved the best spots. Well thankfully unlike its summer holiday counterpart, in skiing the earlier the better. First lift riders are seen with respect (especially those who you just saw still partying away a few hours previously!) We all know that the perfectly corduroy groomed pistes don’t hang around all day – quickly they become cut up and bumpy. So whatever happens, however hung over or tired you are invest in those first few lift rides then as soon as the world and their aunties join in, go home and take a siesta!

Is it frowned upon if one were to queue in the singles line to get to the front and then magically join ones friends?
Now to accomplish this without annoying others you would have to have some pretty perfect timing. As long as both lines are moving and you aren’t causing an M25 scale traffic block then there is no harm in trying this sneaky maneuver!

Can one reasonably resort to violence when one’s brand new skis/board are being stamped on by the very absent minded, careless skier stood behind in the queue?
I think giving a loud “Excuse me!” then a ski shuffle should suffice. It was probably an accident, plus you don’t want to make a lifelong mortal enemy of someone who could somehow end up sitting next to you on a painfully slow, two-man chair lift!

Conversation on the chair lift – is one allowed to make conversation with random strangers or should one stare straight ahead?
Definitely – chairlifts are made for chatting, use them to find out which pistes are in good nick, which restaurants are recommended, which cliffs are safe to drop off. I remember someone writing to me a few years ago about meeting their wife on a chair lift in Park City. Now if this brave gentleman hadn’t braved the awkward silence and seduced his future wife with his great chat then his life would be far different!

Top British skier Chemmy Alcott shares her ski etiquette tips with Monarch Airlines blog readers
Do: Chat with people on the chair lift. You never know, you could meet ‘the one’!

Is a little playful barging and pushing in the queue discouraged?
With all the testosterone on the slopes bought up through the speed and danger this is inevitable. I find it rather irritating and expenses unnecessary energy – energy I would prefer were spent laying the skis over achieving big angles!

How does one deal with the zigzagging slow piste-absorbing turns of a beginner or group of beginners?
In this situation, first you must remember that we were all beginners once. Respect beginners as they need to build confidence. Don’t forget their likelihood of being out of control and not able to stop on demand – in this situation the responsibility of passing them safely is solely down to you. Wait for a safe passing situation and consider it as a chance to sneak in a few off-piste turns before safely joining back onto the piste in front of them!

If one is of the above-mentioned ‘beginner’ level, how can one avoid infuriating the more experienced skiers behind one?
Don’t worry about them – focus on you, what you need to do to be safe, enjoy your learning and build your confidence – it is up to them to ski past you!

Olympic skier Chemmy Alcott shares her ski etiquette tips with Monarch Airlines blog readers
Do: Strap your boots on properly – stay in control of your gear and your speed

When can one sip their first glühwein?
Hmmm now this is rather dependent on your technical ability and alcohol tolerance! I would say beginners should have their lessons, do lots of practice based on their teacher’s advice. Then when you feel your legs getting too shaky to learn any new skill, one little drink could actually boost your confidence and dare I say help relax you! For pros who are out there pushing themselves and taking risks, in my opinion, I wouldn’t advise a drink until the end of the day so that your focus isn’t impeded. Leave the booze for your post ski review bragging session!

How tipsy is too tipsy to ski down from the après ski bar?
Actually I have a good story here – when my brother was captain of university skiing one of his team mates got so drunk that skiing down was not an option. He quickly learnt his lesson when they bungy-cord-strapped him (in rather less clothes than he started with) to the front of a piste machine. He was forced to make his way back down at the snail pace of 5mph giving everyone else ample time to laugh and take photos! Pretty sure he never got that inebriated whilst trying to ski again!

Should one help or ignore the child wailing at the top of the mountain?
If the cause of the pain is apparent, for example, a lost ski, a snowy mitten then it is courtesy to help, especially if you are unable to locate the responsible adult. Again remember that at some point in a snowy white out we have all found ourselves scared and alone and being saved or having at least company would have made the situation a lot better!

Lastly, a few quick Do’s and Don’ts


  • Look behind you when taking a sharp right whilst walking with your skis on the shoulder
  • Check the weather forecast before you leave the hotel
  • Remember to buckle your boots for control
  • Bring your camera for some spontaneous shots of you and your friends (altitude does make you rather silly)


  • Dance on tables with your ski boots on… a recipe for disaster!


What are your best ski etiquette tips? Share yours in the comments below!

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Chemmy’s Top 5 Ski Resorts Tue, 22 Jan 2013 16:41:23 +0000 Having just arrived at Cortina, one of my most favourite places on earth, I felt compelled to tell you about my fab 5 – these are my favourite spots in Europe!

ski 2

1. Cortina – Italy

Even the sometimes painfully slow (not all Italians drive crazy fast especially in the snow) drive down the valley into Cortina is mind blowing. Towering Dolomite rocks encapsulate the narrow winding road. The formidable scenery belittles you but not in a negative way – it heightens your respect for the beauty of the mountains and invites you in as a guest to ski its epic pistes. Cortina, a village on paper as swanky as St Moritz sits peacefully at the end. Unlike St Moritz its grandeur and wealth is not intimidating but somehow welcoming. It is a people watching dream as ladies (and pets) wander the cobbled streets clad in fur stopping every few hundred meters for a passing expresso.

I fell in love with this place standing at the top of inspection of the epic Tofana downhill piste – a section of the course where you build up speed of at least 100kph in less than 5 seconds. The huge rocks cast a dark shadow on this section of the track and once even, after a huge snowfall the race had to be postponed for a few hours as an avalanche suddenly attacked the piste just missing the first runner as she whooshed past!

What is not to love about Italy – the fans are always excited, the pistes are always fun, the views spectacular, the coffee unbeatable and the food – well it is food made for a downhiller! But diversity is what makes skiing such a great sport – every country’s snowy mountains have a different feel, different smells, different intensities.

2. Flaine – France

For me when i think of post ski racing and possibly teaching my children to (hopefully) love the sport which has enriched my life i see no other place than Flaine in France. Always a big putting off factor for anyone with that snowy bug is travel time – time is precious you want to hit the sloped as soon as you step off that plane and unless you are one of the 0.01% who can afford the luxury of a helicopter that just isn’t going to happen! But Flaine, just an hour up the road, is as near as you will get. And once you are up there is no need to waste time driving – it is a car free resort and most of the apartments are ski in, ski out (the beauty of it being situated in a bowl in the mountains – also means it often has good snow when other areas are struggling.) Flaine for me is a family place because that is where my brothers and I found our passion for the slopes and the sport. I started skiing here on the blue learner pistes at 18 months and i can still return and be challenged by some of the fabulous steep terrain (Gers!)

3. Val D’Isere – France

Sticking with France but going to the polar opposite in terms of feel for a resort is Val D’Isere. It is a swanky, beautiful resort with chalets that make you want to pack up and just move in. But it is not just the town (or the mouth watering patisseries) that make this one of my top resorts – the skiing stands up for itself too! All kinds of terrain and some cool speedy lifts, plus the glacier which helps keep the snow for longer are great additions to a fabulous resort.

4. St Anton – Austria

I can’t really have a top 5 and leave out skiing in Austria! If you want intensity in its very form from mountain terrain, to ski instructors, to the heat in the sauna and the most hard core apres ski parties then head to Austria – most places in Austria actually but my favourite is St Anton. Having just been there for our toughest world cup stop on the tour I can personally vouch for the fantastic skiing there – we had a few powder delayed days and i actually got to ski around not just the training hills and it was fabulous – big wide bowls to drop into and lots of rolls and jumps to be enjoyed by all. My friends who were there heavily sampled the other delights St Anton offered and I will just say you MAY need to catch up on sleep after you return – dancing on the tables till the early hours then a quick nap before first lift isn’t conducive of a ‘relaxing’ holiday! When in Rome….

5. Zermatt – Switzerland

For my final choice today I can’t leave out Zermatt. A year round ski heaven. I actually have never made it there in the Winter but in terms of summer skiing, for some reason glaciers are always under-rated – not this one! How perfect to venture high into the clouds with the spectacular Matterhorn lit up with the pink glow of first light, arch some fast and furious turns before spending the afternoon either lazily sunbathing and inhaling the summer mountain air or hiking and zooming through the trees on a zip wire. I am also always spoilt when I go as a friend of mine works for the Elysian Collection, THE most luxurious chalets I have even been invited to and we often go for dinner and relaxing in the spa!

The world is full of fabulous places – I have probably hit up a big chunk of the snowy ones but there are so many places I want to go, terrain I want to ski and secret spots I look forward to finding.

Let me know yours if you have time and maybe one day i will meet you there on the slopes!!!

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Our World Ski Calendar – Seasonal Ski Resorts around the World Thu, 03 Jan 2013 13:13:29 +0000 To celebrate our new ski flights we produced a world ski calendar so you can ski all year round across the world. For each destination we have provided some interesting stats plus individual piste information. Let us know your favourite ski destination by commenting below!

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Why skiing can be an emotional roller coaster Wed, 19 Dec 2012 18:09:13 +0000 When asked for my advice for future wannabe ski racers I always say perseverance – skiing is a roller-coaster of emotions – be prepared to take the highs with the lows.

This is my mantra at the moment.

I have never been more attached to the bottom of an emotional yo-yo string as the last few months. There have been hugely rewarding moments when all the work of the last 2 years seemed to pay off and then days I have been lucky races were cancelled since my leg was so stiff I was hobbling like an old man.


Chemmy Alcott competing at Lake Louise December 2012 - Monarch Airlines' ski ambassador
Photo credit: Malcolm Carmichael

Every day I wake up with a comforting ache in my right leg. I know that sounds bizarre describing my metal work with positives but it helps me to remember what I have been through and had to overcome to just be here surrounded by all this white, fluffy snow! It is far too easy to just forget the last two years and be back to being Chemmy the ski racer who is a competitor, a contender with no excuses to not perform at her best. My soul is the same racer but now I just have life experiences to fall back on when the going gets tough. And I can tell you starting at the back of the first series of World Cup racers I have had to rely a lot on my mental strengths. The Gods have not been kind to us. I remember the days when I used to race and wake up and the weather was either consistently sunny, flat light or snowing. Now in the period of just hours we have been exposed to every kind of weather system out there. At Lake Louise some girls had sun, others fog, the latter snow and fog and wind – it is like a Russian roulette – but in that start gate when you hear those last 5 beeps you take what you are dealt with and do your best, knowing that one day opportunity will be yours and you WILL seize it and excel.

Chemmy Alcott at Lake Louise - Monarch Airlines' ski ambassador

I am proud of my season start. I put myself in the most difficult position known to an athlete and succeeded. Success would have been just to finish knowing I had done my best and overcome my gremlins. So coming 25th and scoring world cup points in my very first race post injury on the very hill that threatened to end my career back on the 2nd december 2010 was possibly one of my most rewarding days I have ever had in this sport (obviously becoming the first Brit to win a run in World Cup and my numerous top 10s were great but this result had an even higher meaning for all the effort and belief, not just by me but everyone who helped get me back on skis, that has gone into achieving those very valuable 6 points!)

After I got the ball rolling in Lake Louise I thought ‘Hey this isn’t going to be as tough as I expected – am already in the points – let’s just build on this every race.’ I forgot how every girl in that start gate is hungry for points – and I was the only one who had missed the last two years and was coming back slightly rusty. World Cup points are the creme-de-la-creme of our sport – they don’t just hand them out willy nilly. You have to work hard for them – the old ‘blood, sweat and tears’ comes to mind. And for me the last few years have been just that. I promised myself I wouldn’t let this sport I love make me sad since I have fought so hard to be back doing it.

But the tears have flowed twice so far.

Once from utter relief after safely completing that first training run in Lake Louise and clearing the jump where i crashed. They were unexpected and tumbled down my cheeks as I sat realising that I had done it – my diary extract says it all:

 27th November – First training run Lake Louise

What an insanely MOMENTOUS day! Because I am not a ‘thinker’ I tried to just let it happen – to ignore how mentally tough it was going to be for me to ski my first DH run on the very run that I crashed on 2 years ago. What I achieved (and don’t get me wrong I wasn’t fast – I was in fact very very slow) only hit me 20 minutes after my run as I sat on the loo and read a text from my good friend Nick Fellows and that is when the waterworks started!

I hope Nick doesn’t mind but it was such a thoughtful text I want to share it “Chemmy… Well-done.. Respect beyond belief… To go back to the nightmare and lay the ghost to rest is an achievement beyond belief.. Walk with your head held high…”

@LarisaYurkiw (one of the few who get what i went through today not only as my teammate but someone who overcame a horrific injury herself) and i just chatted and she said something really touching – some people go their whole lives without pushing themselves into the unknown… Whatever happens now this season, whatever happens from this day forward, I did that today – I pushed myself totally out of my comfort zone (and that is an expression far too widely used but not for me today!) Right now time for the tears of relief to stop and the preparation for tomorrow and a different mindset.

Chemmy Alcott taking a hike near Lake Louise - Monarch Airlines' ski ambassador
The beautiful setting at Lake Louise – pics I took when I went for a hike to clear my head before the competition

I am so glad I wrote down my feelings that day as I normally only allow myself to write as therapy when I have a bad day. The 27th of November was such a significant victory along my comeback that since then I have often re-read my words so that I don’t lose those precious feelings!

The other time I cried was in St Moritz after the combined when I let fear in and it completely controlled my skiing. They were tears of frustration, the feeling that I had let myself and those who believed in me down. Thankfully it took only an hour of hindsight to realise that the conditions had been tough – very dark and I had not trusted my leg’s ability to ski without the help of my vision. Once I addressed this fear I reasoned with it and know it is something I need to work on. (In fact in the DH in Val D’Isere in the second training run, just one week after my poor performance in St Moritz, with dense cloud cover and no light, I was able to test my acceptance of fear in flat light and ski probably by best run so far finishing just 1.3 seconds behind first place.)

I didn’t expect to come back and win straight away. I knew even top 30 positions would be hugely challenging so I am proud that out of the three races, I have finished two in the points. The other results have been bitterly close just outside that elusive top 30 but what makes me most proud is that every run I have glimmers of the untapped potential that drove me to come back to the sport I love – statistics have been favourable – I have been the fastest girl through the speed gun, I have won a split and have had numerous sections where I was skiing as quick as the best in the world. The consistency will not be given to me on a plate – I will have to keep working hard for it but now I know it is there and with a little bit of luck from the weather Gods, I will do everything I can to go out there and bring it home!

So that’s what it’s like for me, racing – but is skiing an emotional rollercoaster for you too? Tell me about it!

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What’s your ski personality? Thu, 13 Dec 2012 11:58:55 +0000 According to professional skier, Chemmy Alcott, you can see them from a mile off. The man who got overly excited about the “bend ze knees” lesson, or the woman who thinks that extra wiggle to her turns best shows off her behind in her too tight trousers. But which one of these skiing clichés best describes you? You’ll spot your family in an instant, but if you can’t find yourself, we’re sure your friends would be happy to tell you who you are…

And if you work out which one you are, don’t be afraid to tell us in the comments & in our Facebook competition, which could win you ski flights!

Charlie, Mr. Big Chat

What he’s wearing

Snow-blades and a hat that would look ridiculous on a jester.

On the slopes

He learnt how to do a 360 on his mini-skis, so now he’s convinced he’s better than anyone on the piste. He’s an expert at the tuck-and-go, this one, though that doesn’t stop him taking out the occasional small child along the way.

Where to find him

Upside-down in a tree after he followed someone much better than him off-piste.


Saskia The Snow Bunny

What she’s wearing

Last night’s make up, lots of fur and clothing with some version of the label that reads: “designed by fashion-house for ski-company“.

 On the slopes

Mummy and Daddy put her on skis before she could walk, but from her first run of the day at noon, you wouldn’t know it. As she recovers from yesterday’s 12 hours of “apres-ski”, she’ll be putting in plenty of turns to make sure her tan is even, and stopping regularly for hot chocolate (or something stronger).

 Where to find her

At the chicest bistro at the top of the mountain, or getting the gondola back down. Skiing from the top of the chairlift to the restaurant counts as the day’s run, right?


Timmy, The Tiny Tot

What he’s wearing

Ski boots that come up above his knees, and a ski school bib from before he beat his group down the mountain and came to find you.

 On the slopes

If you thought you’d be skiing along holding this one’s mittens, you’ve got another thing coming. This little guy’s racing snowplow will have him whizzing at terrifying speeds, usually towards the next slalom course he can sneak into. And if there aren’t any around, watch out: you and the rest of the fam have probably just become his slalom gates.

 Where to find him

Hidden between the massive moguls half way down the only run on the mountain you’d given yourself permission not to attempt. Who needs a ski instructor to push you, when you’ve got a tiddler to follow?


Eddie, Of The Eighties

 What he’s wearing

Neon, lycra or a onesy, and the longest skis on the mountain. Also known as: things that should have been burnt 2 decades ago.

 On the slopes

Is that guy on a mono-ski? Nope, he’s just clung to the technique he learnt in his twenties from a man of the mountain called Hans. And it’s served him well – he’s always the first of his party to reach the bottom. Why? Because everyone else (especially his children) have hidden to avoid being seen with him and his excessive pole-planting.

 Where to find him

In the hotel basement, tuning his retro skis to perfection and dealing with the massive gashes he’s incurred from being unable to turn tight enough to avoid the rocks.


Mary, Mother Graceful

 What she’s wearing

A matching pastel neck-warmer and headband, pretty skis, and all of her jewelry.

 On the slopes

She could probably still out pace her children, but there’s no way this lady is putting that to the test. Style and stability are her goals now, and thirty plus years of ski holidays means she’s the last one upright. Which is good, because if she fell over, her knees might not get her up again.

 Where to find her

In front of the chalet fire, trying to get out of some uncomfortable-looking yoga pose.


Riley, The Sweet Rider

What he’s wearing

Clothing made for someone twice his size, and his trousers round his knees.

On the slopes

He’s nowhere to be seen. He’s either in a snow park getting gnarly air, or playing chicken with biggest cliff on the mountain.

Where you’ll find him

Hiding at the bottom of the half-pipe, after splitting his low-rise salapettes, or in hospital, getting another fluorescent plaster cast.


David, Dad-Knows-Best


What he’s wearing

A brand new helmet, the season’s flashiest skis, and a jacket with too many pockets full of Swiss army knives and GPSs.

On the piste

He’s desperately trying to keep up with his kids. And failing. He regularly stops them to tell them their speed isn’t safe, but, in fact, it’s his semi-snow-plow turns that are the liability.

Where you’ll find him

Next to the mountain map, looking the opposite way, convinced his satellite navigation phone (which is telling him he’s in the local Carrefour) knows better.

Ski Holidays Personalities

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How I prepare for the slopes Mon, 10 Dec 2012 17:01:10 +0000 So it’s finally December and it’s snowing in Europe, which means you ski fantatics will be counting down the days until you will be ripping turns on the white stuff. If you haven’t realised by now, sorry to burst your blissful ‘eat all you can eat, it’s Christmas’ bubble but you need to get in some sort of shape. This isn’t just me being a pushy ski dictator it really is me trying to help you get the most out of your upcoming holiday.

There are so many daunting and scary ski injury stats out there (sadly a lot of which push people away from even trying this fabulous sport.) And yes, like my accident a few years ago, sometimes injuries just happen regardless of how well you have prepared but MOST of the time they are avoidable.

Skiing is a gravity sport and if you stand there and point your skis down hill you can kinda just go with the flow. But, then racers and leisure skiers alike need to be able to handle some big G forces, the altitude, the permanent squat position, the power needed to flex the ski to carve, the need to suddenly dodge other mountain goers, the list can go on and on. Whether you realise it or not as you zip down the slopes, skiing is a very technical sport.

Monarch ski brand ambassador Chemmy Alcott at Lake Louise 2012

Most people spend their year working their butt off so that they can afford to go on that yearly ski holiday. So why not do a little preparation every day for a few weeks prior to your trip so that instead of the usual first day burn out, you can ski longer and harder every day and get more snowy miles for your buck?

It is easy for me to say. I mean, on the days I ski I still have hours of downtime in between physio and video where I can easily fit in a weight lifting session, a bike interval, a recovery and core session!

The below programme isn’t exactly what I do (I need to keep some trade secrets secret!) and I’m not recommending you follow this as my needs as a professional skier are likely very different from most of yours. Just thought you might find it interesting to see what’s involved!

Off Season

Mid April til the end of the month
My yearly 2 week holiday (normally me and Dougie are chasing the waves with Miss Julia Mancuso somewhere!)

May 1st – mid June – Aerobic base
During this 6 week period is the main building blocks for our aerobic training through the year. Many people underestimate a skier’s need to be aerobically fit. Of course people know about squat training and other strength work but tend to forget that spending almost 6 months day-in-day-out at altitude means your cardiovascular efficiency needs to be right up there. During this period your gains really are measured in how many hours daily you put in on your bike! We mostly use cycling since it builds up your quads and VMOs (these help protect against the dreaded ACL injuries!) But also I sometimes use the cross trainer or roller blading with poles. Giving the body time away from heavy weights means I tend to get lean and flexible during this period.

Mid June – Oct
This is obviously the main bulk of summer. Having said that end of July normally entails long ski camps on either the European Glaciers or down in the Southern Hemisphere. But although we are skiing there is a big emphasis on strength gains. Lifting during this period will start with lighter weights and more repetitions three times a week till the end of October when I’m doing single reps of ridiculously heavy weights (normally pushing the 120kg mark). During this time there is a lot of blood, sweat and tears in the gym which we all secretly love! The days in between (for me Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday – Sunday is off) are normally spent doing bike intervals, recovery and pilates with one session of ‘free sport’ added.

On Season

From October to April skiing and racing is obviously the focus but we still have to (at least maintain) build on our fitness to make sure we peak at the right races. We have a four day standard rotation that goes like this:

  • Recovery 40 mins low heart rate on bike, stretch
  • Pilates-based movement, recovery spin
  • Games
  • Lifting session

Then every night before a race we have our own individual pre-race lift which is basically to wake up the muscles and for toning. I want to tell you all more but this is as in depth as I get since somethings have to remain a secret from the rest of the World Cup girls!!!!

Tips for your own training

Like I say, you don’t need to commit to such a strenuous training regime as professional skiers do. However, there are some warm up tips and fitness exercises on the site which you might find handy. Let me know what you think and tell me what works for you in the comments.

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Skiers and snowboarders – why can’t we just get along? Fri, 09 Nov 2012 16:04:46 +0000 I’ve been thinking lately – why is it that skiers and snowboarders have such a strong rivalry, and sometimes even a mild antipathy towards each other, considering we have so much in common?

A snowboarder & skier catching air above the snow

I have to start by saying, once again, this blog is likely to be highly biased since for 28 years I have been in favour of the two planks! But with an older brother who veered over to the dark side of the snowboard a decade ago, I will try and create a more balanced argument than you would expect of me!

  • We share the mountain
  • We share the breathtaking sunrises that encompass the white snow in pink hues
  • We share the lift rides (and the queues!)
  • We share the sweet first tracks on the perfectly groomed pistes
  • We share the fresh track after a night of deep snowfall
  • We share the exhilarating rush of air as we let gravity fly us downwards

Only one thing really tears us apart – I ski on 4 edges, they ski on two!

Snowboarder doing an impressive run - Monarch Airlines blog

How I perceive snowboarding? Two worlds – cool and creative. It is an expressive form of artistic sport – from the amazing tricks in big air to how they look. I have nothing but admiration for their incredible skills.

I used to dabble with a board. Back in the day my father imported ‘clipper’ snowboard bindings so naturally I had to be a big fan! I took to it quite easily in its very basic form. Personally I think because of having just 2 edges to think about it can be easier to learn than skiing. But I found having my feet strapped to a board restrictive (still today I love surfing and yet feel slightly awkward wake-boarding for the same reason) I found I couldn’t generate as much speed as I can on skis.

Snowboarder on snowbank - Monarch Airlines blog

Obviously this was partly due to the fact I was a very basic snowboarder and like to think I am a slightly more professional ski racer! I think there is more evidence to suggest one can be faster on skis – to quote Wikipedia “(skiing) is one of the fastest non-motorized sports on land. The current world record (2006) for skiing is 251.4 km/h (156 mph), held by Simone Origone.” Speed skiers are as the name suggests skiers, not boarders, however after much internet searching I did find this:  the highest recorded speed by a snowboarder is 201.907km/h (125.459mph) by Darren Powell (Australia) at Les Arcs, France in 1999. So actually not a huge amount of difference!

Snowboarder doing an aerial trick - Monarch Airlines blog

Snowboarding used to be what the cool kids who didn’t want to wear lycra and race downhill did. It let them be loose, creative and demonstrative – a way to show off your talents without using a timer. However the last decade has definitely seen a resurrection of free skiing and slope style on skis. Tricks that boarders invented have been re-born by skiers who put their own twists on them. I can’t say one of these art forms is better than the other because I don’t follow the sports closely enough but both talents are wondrous to me since they are so foreign. I could never hit a jump and do tricks – I fly through the air in an ‘egg’ shape aiming to touch down on the snow ASAP and make more speed (air time is slower than on snow time!)

Close up on snowboard - Monarch Airlines blog

If I could change one thing about snowboarders it would be to implant eyes into the back of their heads. Obviously snowboarders have a ‘blind’ side and I think it is this side that causes the most agro for us skiers. I am sure boarders don’t (always) intentionally cut skiers up but a lot of crashes are caused this way since they can only see one direction. My father had a really bad crash a few years ago – he is a formidable 6 foot 4 and even still the perpetrator had trouble seeing him!

I am sure boarders too have qualms about us skiers to so if you are a boarder and want to let me know comment at the bottom!

Snowboarder & skier on piste together - Monarch Airlines blog

Will snowboaders and skiers ever be compatible? Well as far as sharing the T bar goes, I don’t think so! But let’s make piece let’s shake hands, respect each other and our love of the white stuff.

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Are you are posey, pretty, racy or straight out of the 80s? Thu, 18 Oct 2012 13:19:38 +0000 The ski slopes are a people watching dream. Look to your right and you may see lycra-clad racers, to your left snow bunny kitted out wannabes with permanent, teeth-as-white-as-the-sparkling-snow, gleaming smiles and in front of you 3 years old kids with no fear (and probably not much technique) charging down the mountain to join their adversary heaped at the bottom of the slope as they try to learn to stop!

Where do you think you fit in? But more interestingly who do others see you as?

Monarch skier posing

Posey Skier

The kind of person who watches Made In Chelsea and sees that skiing is ‘what one does’ so books a holiday to wherever they saw Prince William and Kate ski last year. Purchasing as much expensive designer ski gear as possible, sauntering up to the ski lift at midday, checks out the ski instructor talent during a few runs. Then heads to the poshest mountain restaurant drinks mulled wine (or the local version) then heads down to put on the tiniest bikini and sit in the hot tub with a glass of champers! Yessss darling!!

Monarch skier fallen over

The (ex) Racer

Having learnt to ski as a youngster, you once invested in an ex GB catsuit for your yearly corporate event. It seemed a great idea at the time – however years of social beer drinking mean the zip popped and the safety pins holding it together aren’t as sexy as they looked when Liz Hurley wore that dress back in the 90s (probably same era when the zip easily glided over your toned stomach!). Your technique is good, decent, a mish mash of years of different styles of coaches – particular memorable are the benz ze knees and emphasize that pole plant. Tends to bob up and down a bit but general a safe, fast skier. However be warned when The (ex) Racer is on a busy piste, tends to use fellow skiers as a human slalom – steer clear in the scenario!

Monarch skier comfort zone

Stuck in the Comfort Zone

The ‘stuck’ skier goes skiing once a year and loves it but never really gets the time to improve. Over the year, this skier loses confidence so starts on the blue runs and never gets the guts to make the move to the red. Misses the opportunity, decides to wait until next year but sadly this is a viscous circle of ‘blue-run-dom!’

We have all been there. Even me, when I am rusty on my first camp of the year and feeling great on a nice easy run, I think I will just stay here doing this again and again and feeling like a champ. why progress to a harder run that will take more effort and I won’t feel as great?? Why? WHY? Well sports like skiing give us the opportunity to push our boundaries – learn where our physical limit is. If you don’t take that chance then you will never know how good you could be!

Monarch skier off piste

Over Confident

This skier nows how to stop safely – so on that premise, disregards technique and just goes for it. Skis as ‘loose as a goose’ – all jelly legs and big warning signs. Probably has a skill level suited to a red but often frequents black runs (that person you see walking up to the top to collect the ski they lost before summersaulting 50 meters down the vertical descent!) But loves it regardless. Also often seen bragging at the bar at how many runs they skied and showing their I phone speed ap to anyone and everyone who looks semi-interested (secretly hiding the fact that the 80kph it shows was actually not a result of fast skiing but an erratic bus driver on the way to the base of the mountain!)

1980s Ski Wizz

Despite having all the latest parabolic, huge side-cut skis, this person still skis as if s/he were on a mono board. Legs, knees, ankles glued as tightly together as possible – heaving the body weight from side to side. Also prone to the vintage look (which is actually coming back in fashion, conveniently for them!) from fluorescent colours to big headbands!

Monarch ski racer

Extreme ‘the Piste is the Enemy’ Skier

The purveyor of anything deemed ‘wild’ so skinning up the mountain at the crack of dawn, a quick sip of something to warm the soul from his silver battered hip-flask before hurtling down any cruddy snow or deep powder – anything far away from the crowds and corduroy snow made by the piste machines. Uses the word radical a lot whilst pulling out a lot of peace signs (unless mittens are their glove of choice!)

Pretty Skier

Knows potentially they could be faster and keep up with their kids but has been complimented on being a beautiful, graceful skier so many times that fears jeopardizing that by trying new techniques. Besides which skiing is about enjoying being out in the mountain, knowing that in all the cute pastel clothes they look good, especially the overly tight on the behinds’ over-trousers!

Monarch skier dad

The “Dad Who is Desperately Trying to Stay Faster Than His Kids” Skier

Was really keen his kids should follow his love of snow sports. Tried to give them the opportunity he didn’t have by putting them on snow as soon as they could walk. The first few years were fun – skiing as a family, being the envy of all the other dads who sacrifice their fun, fast turns to teach their own kids the snow-plough. However, has recently noticed he can no longer keep up with them. Somehow in the blink of an eye they have left him in their plume of powdery snow. Now fears both his age and lack of fitness are holding him back from ever catching them up again!

This blog is all in jest – is it not by any means a reflection of anyone I know – so if you are friend or family reading this, thinking that i used you as a muse you are far from the truth – all my characters are fabrications of my over creative snowy filled mind!

What kind of skier are you? What kind of skier do your friends think you are? Tell me in the comments below! 

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Where to find Europe’s best après ski Wed, 17 Oct 2012 16:38:05 +0000 Many of us are mourning the end of summer and the long, warm days and cool evenings that go with it. Luckily for us skiers though, this seemingly gloomy time of year has a welcome silver lining as it heralds the beginning of the ski season. It’s time to get ready for the slopes!

As I prepare for a winter of snow sports, I decided to catch up with our ski ambassador Chemmy Alcott for a chat about one of the best aspects of the ski season: the après ski. Nothing feels better after a day on the slopes then relaxing with a vin chaud in an altitude chalet, but as a professional athlete, Chemmy reminded me that there’s more to the life of a serious skier than hitting the cosy bars and enjoying the nightlife.  “No kicking back with a nice Gluhwein for me,” she said, “it’s straight onto the treadmill!  But if I don’t have to race the next day, I love a relaxing session in the sauna too.”

Fortunately, most of us aren’t training for ski championships, meaning we get to soak up all the fun après ski has to offer. In my experience, the best Gluhwein, along with some of the most warming and restorative food to be found anywhere in Europe’s snow covered hotspots can be found in the Austrian Alps. Flights to Innsbruck from Monarch will put you within easy reach of world famous bars such as the Crazy Kanguru at Saint Anton—a bar Chemmy highly recommends. Well-known for its parties, extensive menu and incredible views, it’s the ideal place to wind down after a day on the slopes. Just two hours drive from Saint Anton is the resort of Kitzbuhel, which is home to Pinkies, a much-loved celebrity hangout, and The Londoner which, ironically, specialises in mouth-watering Austrian cuisine.

In Switzerland, Chemmy told me that the place to head for fantastic après ski is St. Moritz.  “People-watching is always part of the fun of St. Moritz,” she says. “”But, if, like me, you can’t hit the bars straight after skiing, there’s always lots of other stuff going on here to keep you occupied. You can even watch polo matches on the frozen lake.”

While the Austrian Alps are renowned for their wild après ski atmosphere, Chemmy is keen to point out that après ski is not all about wild parties. She told me that in Italian and French resorts there is a gentler ambience with more emphasis on good food. “I’ve had some of the most amazing meals in Cortina. The White Grouse Pub in Flaine has a very English feel with delicious food to restore you after your session on the slopes.” Travelling to Grenoble with Monarch puts you within easy reach of Flaine and some of Europe’s best ski resorts, where fondues and raclettes are the specialty speciality of the region. Chemmy admitted that if she didn’t have to watch her diet, she’d indulge in these delicious dishes a lot more regularly. “I love cheese and cured meats,” she says, “I actually prefer the Swiss fondue to the French, as the Swiss mix the types of cheeses they use which makes it ultra delicious.” .

When I asked Chemmy what she loved most about the Alps, she said, “I love the vastness; the fact that it’s possible to not ski down the same slope twice in a day.” Unlike slopes in the United States where it’s common to drive to the mountains, Alpine ski resorts are usually designed for people on foot, allowing the après ski atmosphere to really take off.

As we said goodbye, Chemmy left me with some sound words of advice.  “Have fun, but try not to waste your precious ski days away recovering from hangovers!” I’ll do my best Chemmy!

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Do YOU know the slopes? Share ski tips to win flights! Wed, 10 Oct 2012 17:24:38 +0000 Do you know the slopes? Well we need you!

Monarch ski ambassador & no 1 British skier Chemmy Alcott

We want to create a ski guide for our new ski routes based entirely on your tips.

Submit your tips on our Facebook page now for the chance to appear in the final guide.

We will choose the best tips to appear in the final guide, from which Monarch Ski Ambassador Chemmy Alcott will pick one to win two free flights to one of our ski destinations!

 Share your tips to go in to win flights today! Visit the Facebook app here.

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