In the tracks of their illustrious elder, Emile Allais (first instructor of the French Ski School), a small group of local youngsters train to become professional instructors.
One can easily spot the group at the beginning of the season at the summit of the Aiguille Croche, only a stone’s throw from Megève, birthplace and home to the defunct Emile Allais.
Supervised by Patrick and Tobie, both experienced instructors, the group consists of 3 girls and 7 boys aged 17 to 24 years. They train together throughout the season in the aim to pass the tests required to teach skiing as a profession.
The youngest members of the group are preparing the “technical test” and need to improve in slalom whilst two others are presently preparing the “Eurotest” based on their performance in the giant slalom.
You may spot them training under the Montjoie chairlift: …the first group fighting the slalom stakes
…the second group racing through the giant slalom gates at high speeds.
The “technical test” is an extremely selective examination which provides access to the initial teacher training course. The programme remains extremely selective throughout the curriculum.
To succeed, one doesn’t need to be a champion. However, one does have to reach an excellent level of skiing, equivalent to those that officially open the ski races known as Flèches (Giant Slalom) or Chamois (Slalom).
After training hard throughout the Christmas break and at weekends in January, the time came for Amandine and Edouard, 17 years old (minimum age required ), to present themselves for this famous test.
A 7.15 start at the foot of the slopes in Chinaillon where, over a three day period, nearly 500 young people attempted to pass the test. The examination conditions create both stress and frustration but Edouard appeared to be still half asleep!
The day began with a recce of the run and the ground conditions. It had poured with rain all night and the freezing temperatures of the early morning had transformed the slope into sheet ice. On each side, a small group of uniformed instructors kept an eye on the course of the race.
First to start, bib n°5, was Amandine. As a slalom stake hit her ski goggles she lost control!
Edouard, well awake by now, began to feel the pressure! After a good start, excellent control, no technical incidents and good speed he was looking promising!
All Edouard needed now was to cover the distance! Suddenly he made a mistake and fell just a few metres from the finish line. Such bad luck!
Only 17 of the young skiers successfully passed the morning test. Others attempted a second run but, unfortunately, they did no better. They made numerous mistakes on the top half of the course and Amandine and Edouard fell in almost the same places. Only 6 youngsters were successful on their second attempt!
After a good lunch, our two trainees ensured us that they will do better next time and enquired about the dates of the next test run. Few high school students have such a good excuse to miss a day of school so, after all, two days are better than one!
None of the youngsters from Les Contamines successfully completed the 3 technical sessions in January and all will return to training. They have the possibility to pass the test twice a year so most of them will try again in March.
To end on a positive note, congratulations to Maxime, the first in the group to succeed this season in the Eurotest (Giant Slalom) giving him access to the first cycle of training to become a professional ski instructor. Of course, we wish all the group the possibility to live their passion as long as their legendary predecessor Emile Allais who continued to ski until the age of 100!
Copyright : Hervé Ollier