A Life in the Day of the Warren Smith Ski Academy

Think that you’ve heard it all before?

Think again…

It may look the same and indeed sound the same – as I arrive at the Hemel Hemstead Snow Centre, one of the largest indoor ski slopes in the UK, it looks like any other ski excursion, smiles, boots, racks and chat of up and coming holidays: Alps, Pyrenees, expressions of expense, snow predictions and even Japan… Then we meet Rav, one of Warren Smith’s 15 instructors, and until we muster on the 160m slope at 10am we could be at the start of any old day. But this is a Warren Smith day, and from what I gather even from the few dealings with Warren’s team to this point – this is something special…

There’s a mixed bunch in our group; couples, singles and previous offenders 30-plus to 60s, with one thing in common: a hunger to achieve more on the slopes.

Go Rav. We stretch, obvious it seems but lesser spotted on the piste, these are followed by talk of centre point balance and then onto the practical – one ski on the turn, nose down… mumbles from the group, (surely we’ve heard this before?) – then we move to another level – ‘undo your boots’ says Rav cheerily – ‘and ski down, twice!’ – the mumbles cease!

Each drill is methodically demonstrated, exercised and critiqued by Rav’s Warren-trained eye throughout the morning. We talk symmetry, knees, we talk hips and gait – where should our feet be exactly – calls of ‘shoulder width’ and ‘hip width’ from the group – Rav establishes that if he literally hung us up (maybe one or two of the group could volunteer!) our feet would fall exactly under our hip joints – not hip bones – there is the perfect gait. We ski with legs wide and then in the appropriate position – it feels good – again there’s a mumble of ‘I’ve spent the last four years learning to ski in a wider position…’ from the group – well exactly – that is why you are here…

Rav films us on the run before lunch, we retire for some refreshment and analyse the footage before we return to the slope for the afternoon – more knees, and more bending, I’m certainly letting go – one of my handicaps is confidence, or lack of it.

I feel I can let go because Rav has opened Warren’s technique tool box, and I need tools.

We close the day with inside ski and outside shoulder, it takes time to take in but boy, there’s right and then there’s Warrens right!

And when it goes Warren right it is like an epiphany – and after 40 years of basics from my first ski holiday in 1979 to Courmayeur, through many school trips and more latterly and lazily on big foot, blades and mostly in the bar – this feel really good!

Warren Smith is a leader in the field – if you want to ski, ski better, ski with confidence and join an ever increasing tribe of Smith skiers – get in, this is the perfect time of year to make the difference and from what I understand the five day courses are a gift… Cervinia, Verbier – find one and get good!

This is a smart, academic, multi-level way of teaching skiing technique and the learning process the Smith way is modular and it is subtle – at the end of the day it feels like the learning process has achieved way more than the sum of its seven hour parts…

I only imagines what one could achieve on a five-day course – and I truly hope to find out… Warren..?

5 Days in Heaven