Back to Will
Freedom Snowsports ski school was set up by ski instructor and current director Will Roberts enabling him to realise a long-held ambition to deliver his own vision for ski coaching. An accredited ski school covering Chamonix, Megeve, St Gervais and Les Contamines Freedom Snowsports offers private lessons, group lessons, off-piste skiing lessons, alpine touring and guiding. The instructors, hand picked and led by Will, are a group of top snowsports professionals, equally delighted to help you with your first steps in skiing as they are training future ski instructors like myself. Teaching is tailored to each individual, with focused learning based around you and what is actually happening.
Will qualified as an instructor in 2005 and quickly progressed to the highest BASI (British Association of Snowsport Instructors) level within just 3 years. His passion for, and dedication to his sport saw him start coaching and grading ski instructors in 2014 when he became a BASI trainer.
Private lessons with Freedom Snowsports offer the most flexibility. When you book you customise your lesson entirely around you, choosing the duration, instructor and meeting point. I chose Will because he was my BASI trainer and examiner. He would therefore know exactly what was required in terms of my skiing to pass my exam in March. Since I was staying in Saint Gervais I chose to meet him at the mid station of the Bettex ski gondola which comes up from Saint Gervais.
This was not my first attempt at trying to get training with Will. Lack of snow had resulted in me not being able to go out to for training in December as planned and I had rescheduled my visit for January. I would be back with New Generation and going onto Will from there made perfect sense. However, this rescheduled training nearly didn’t happen either. In the run up to my visit I was to be very ill.
I’d not felt well New Year’s Eve, had gone skiing anyway and then out to New Year’s Eve celebrations. When I went to work on New Year’s Day I felt really ill. By January 3rd I had developed a really bad chest infection. I was too ill to go to work or have my chemotherapy for an auto-immune disease that I have and most definitely couldn’t ski. I desperately needed to train as my technical resit was on March 2nd; I had a real problem.
With a three hour afternoon lesson with Will already booked, a technical resit also booked and a chest infection which would be made worse if I went I had no choice but to keep quiet (literally as I had no voice!) and go anyway. Since skiing with Will was going to make me more ill I decided it might as well make me super extra ill and I booked a 2 hour morning slot with him too. Whilst he went to the lesson in between mine I would practice. That should do it. 7 hours in cold, freezing, sub-zero mountain air … super extra ill guaranteed … just as I was starting to get better. Hopefully Will would never know how ill I’d been and would only ever find out by reading this blog.
Heavy overnight snow made conditions in Saint Gervais village interesting to say the least. It was very amusing standing at the bus stop waiting for the free ski bus watching vehicles trying to negotiate the roundabout. Some decided flooring the accelerator was the best option; this just made the wheels spin. Others decided slowly, slowly was the better approach only to come to a stop on the roundabout and not be able to get moving again. A lengthy, crawling traffic jam from the village over the bridge round to the ski gondola station quickly built up. I then had to buy a ski lift pass and was only just going to be in time for my lesson starting at 09:00.
I arrived at the mid station of the Bettex ski gondola three minutes late expecting to find Will already there. He wasn’t. Nor had he been on my bus (the first bus of the day and which run every 10 – 20 minutes). This meant he had driven to the gondola station and would have been in the same queue as me. Upon checking my phone I found a message from him. He was in amongst the carnage on the roads. Eventually, half an hour late, he arrived full of apology. Finding himself stuck in the queue he had made the decision to drive up the mountain instead of getting the ski gondola lift. He had also had to dig himself out of his apartment block.
I felt like saying ‘did you not know it was going to snow ? Did you not look out of the window this morning ? You know there’s a free bus … you could have got that and saved yourself the hassle of digging your car out … all you had to do is walk a couple of hundred metres to the stop ?’. Instead I kept quiet. I was educated at private boarding school from the age of 10, predominantly an armed forces boarding school, the only reason you were late for anything was poor planning and bad time management. Will had only got away with being so late because it was me he was coming to meet. In fact, he had been close to cancelling my lesson.
Conditions on the mountain weren’t much better. Even on the pisted runs the snow was up to my knees. Neither of us could see what my feet or skis were doing. Will is exceptionally talented at what he does and can quite literally see through snow. Although he couldn’t see my skis or feet he knew exactly what they were doing by what the rest of my body was doing. He was correct 100% of the time, clever !
I found the deep snow a real challenge. When I fall over I let out a little squeak, a bit like one of those dog toys that makes a noise when it hits the ground; I do the same thing. Will didn’t need to see that I had fallen over, he just listened for the squeak.
On one occasion I’d not had time to even squeak. Standing at a ski lift chatting I stepped aside to let someone pass. Instantly I vanished. Unbeknown to me I had stepped into a snow covered hollow. I completely disappeared. One minute I was stood chatting with Will, the next … gone … vanished into thin air. Well thin snow actually. I was like a tortoise stuck on its back unable to right itself. From my snow hazed hollow I could just make out Will unclipping me from my skis. There then appeared a white gloved hand which had me briefly confused as Will was wearing black gloves. In fact the hand belonged to the ski lift attendant who had left her usual position to come and help. Once hauled out I expected to find Will doubled over laughing but his brain was still trying to work out, process, understand and make sense of what had just happened. If it had been Will I would have quite literally pissed myself laughing.
One thing that did impress Will was how much better my skiing was. When he turned around and shouted back at me ‘it’s great to see you skiing properly’ I knew I’d finally got it right. He was convinced that the change was through my practice. I disagreed. Yes, I had been practicing back in the UK but not that often. I had been to the indoor slope at Manchester twice in October and Castleford twice in October. I’d then been back to Castleford twice in November and once in December. That’s only seven times over four months. What I had been doing was getting coaching from another BASI trainer and it was whilst skiing with them earlier in the week that I had my lightbulb moment and everything clicked together.
The three things I won’t do
There are three things I won’t do that are skiing related; off-piste, bumps and ski touring. Why ski off-piste when there is a perfectly groomed run you can use which will take you to the same place ? I just don’t understand what the point of it is. Bumps are much easier and safer to negotiate if you take your skis off and walk down the side. All that bumping, jolting, having your body shaken every which way only to end up in a painful crashed heap very quickly. No thanks. Ski touring is another thing I just don’t understand. Basically, ski touring is where you ski up the mountain so that you can ski down it. What !! Just buy a lift pass ! It’s so much easier !!
Will actually suggested I tried ski touring. Hahaha …er … I’ll stick with buying a lift pass. I do understand his thinking though. I do a lot of walking. In fact on my first day in Saint Gervais I took the Mont Blanc Tramway up to Bellevue for some winter walking. I walk because my feet are a mode of transport which is free and I can get to places I otherwise wouldn’t reach. At no point did I think ‘oooh … I wish I had skis with me’. Unfortunately, I suspect Will is right. I would like ski touring. In the short time since September he has managed to build up a very accurate mental picture of me. If I am to try ski touring it will be with him since I trust him implicitly not to get me trying anything that he knows I am not capable of. So when he took me off-piste towards the end of my lesson I knew I was totally safe with him.
For those seeking personalised ski instructing in incredible surroundings, there is simply no better choice; join Will and his team for an exceptional lesson! Whether it’s your first turn on skis, or tuning your skiing performance to its peak Will and his team are some of the best in the world at teaching snowsports. https://www.book.ski/private/
3 thoughts on “Freedom Snowsports”
Are you not intending to do your BASI L2 (which would you allow you to teach outdoors) if you pass your L1?
Hoping to do Alpine L2 with EA in Saas Fee. Can’t book place until passed L1. Doing resit next month.
Would also like to do adaptive as work on disability ski holidays as one of the care support team.
ah good stuff, but ref your comments on 3 things you won’t do – you’ll need to be skiing bumps for Alpine L2 and “variables” often known as off piste! Good luck on your journey, I did something similiar as a way to improve my skiing, and perhaps a 2nd career at some stage.