Confessions of a Seasonnaire: Ski seasons, Winter Sports, and Off-piste dramas

By natives.co.uk, 7 Oct '16 at 15:03

With winter just around the corner, many of us will be itching to dust off our skis and head to the slopes. Whilst fresh powder, goggle tan-lines and mountain-top beers are common-place for some, for others this winter may be the first opportunity to carve up some runs. Here, we get the low down on all things ski from our resident seasonnaire, Ed Warnett.

So Ed, what first attracted you to embarking on a Ski Season and becoming a seasonnaire?

“I did my first season straight after my A-Levels at the start of my Gap Year. Cliché I know, but it seemed the perfect time for me. I have always been a keen skier, and the chance to spend a winter in the mountains was too good to miss. Having also worked in restaurants and being something of a cooking pro (I wish!), I also liked the catering side of the role which stood me in good stead when applying for jobs. As I ended up as a chalet host, I got to combine my love for the mountains and good food, so it worked out pretty well!”

What’s been one of the highlights of your time on the slopes?

“That’s got to be skiing in the Monoski World Championships. At the time I was working in Val d’Isere for a company called Ski-Beat. The Championships were in town and open to anyone, so I jumped right in. Having only mono skied a couple of times before it was a bit of a challenge to say the least, but as everyone was pretty much in the same boat it made for an epic day!”

Anything they don’t tell you in travel brochures?

“Pace yourself. A season is a long time and it’s important not to go too hard at the start. That goes for skiing as well as the partying! Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a fresh faced amateur, winter sports are not an easy thing to instantly pick up, and they take time to master.”

“Don’t think you will be conquering every black run in a matter of days, and don’t be disheartened if you have to spend a few days sliding down the slopes on your bum. The important thing is to get out onto the mountain, and to make the most of your time.”

What’s your top travel tip for everyone heading to the slopes this winter?

“Give the mountain the respect it deserves. Although it may seem like a good idea to try and hit some fresh powder on a run you’ve never attempted, no matter how experienced a skier you are there is always an element of danger. If you’re not prepared, things can turn very quickly.”

“I found this out for myself when I fell headlong into a crevasse whilst skiing off-piste in the spring of 2013. Having skied all season, I was a pretty confident skier, but at this point I was certainly far too over-confident and I paid the price. Thankfully, I was alright but I certainly won’t be doing that again in a hurry!”

Advice from the Winter Sport Pros

For many people embarking on a ski season or jetting off for a holiday on the slopes, this may be the first time that they have got mountainside.

As we have seen from Ed’s crevasse tumble mishap, winter sports can be, and frequently are, dangerous and are unlike other holidays. With that in mind, it is vital to ensure that your insurance provider takes this into account.

At ERV, we have designed a variety of of winter sports products that may cover your adventures.

Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline fueled trip carving up black runs, or going for a more relaxed ramble through the stunning mountain scenery, our Rookie Ski Insurance is designed to protect you for on-piste mishaps.

If you are looking to venture further afield or try other, more adventurous activities however, it is necessary to check that your activities are covered.

For seasonnaire’s, even if you are working for a company it is important to check that you are properly covered for all the activities you may be doing throughout the season.

As Ed explains, “Luckily for me, my company provided me with a comprehensive plan that covered me for all activities, both on and off-piste. Some of my friends working in other resorts however weren’t so lucky, and their policy’s only covered skiing rather than snowboarding. Luckily they found out before anything went wrong, but it meant they had to stick to skiing for the rest of the season!”

At ERV, our plans are divided into three categories: Rookie, Adventurer, and Pro. These distinctions are based on the level of cover you are looking for, and the type of activities you will be participating in.

For example, if you are looking to do some heli-skiing with a professional guide, you would need to upgrade from a Rookie to an Adventurer level of cover to be insured.

Alternatively, for off-piste skiing and snowboarding, without a guide you, would need to invest in Pro Insurance to secure sufficient cover.

Further details and outlines of our plans can be found here.

We also provide Seasonnaire cover as outlined by our friends over at Natives:

Seasonnaire Staff is designed for Seasonnaires who will be employed by a company. Here we have removed emergency medical expenses cover as this should be covered by your employer. This means you get the cover you need, and not the cover you don’t. It is important to check that your employer will cover medical expenses, if not, you may want to consider the Seasonnaire products.

Seasonnaire – simply designed for Seasonnaires who are self employed, or those who do not have emergency medical expenses cover as part of their contract of employment.

Choose your product level:
Seasonnaire Staff provides you with three product options: Rookie, Adventurer or Pro, and Seasonnaire provides you with two: Adventurer or Pro.

You can decide what activities you will be involved in and find the most suitable cover.

What is Off-Piste?

Many new, or would be skiers, have trouble with what the term ‘off-piste’ actually contains within it, and even for some of the most experienced skiers it can be a fine line.

“Going off-piste” Ed explains, “is basically where skiers deviate from prepared ski runs and move to areas away from those managed by the resort.”

People go off-piste for a variety of reasons, but is important to know which areas you are covered in and stick to them.

At ERV, we define off-piste as any area off a designated marked trail or run. This includes unmarked areas between runs which are inside the resort boundary and areas located outside of the resort boundaries in the backcountry.

As always, the limits of your off-piste cover will differ depending on which resort you are staying at, so it is best to make sure that you are abiding by local laws and customs at all times.

Gearing Up

As with any extreme sport, it is vital to ensure that you have the proper equipment, and that you know how to use it.

Ed’s top tip here is to focus on your protecting your head by ensuring your helmet fits properly.

“Collisions are commonplace when skiing; it’s just how it goes. I would recommend to everyone to wear a helmet when out on the slopes. That way, you are protecting yourself against unexpected collisions. It will give you more confidence, and allow you to enjoy the mountains for what they are.”

Indeed, 2 out of 3 skiers and snowboarders who had been in a collision but hadn’t suffered an injury said that they always wore helmets in a recent study of skiers in Norway.

Nevertheless, even with a helmet on you are not invincible and it is always important to be aware of those around you, and take precautions to ensure that you are skiing as safely as possible.

That way, whether you are a seasoned seasonnaire or new to the slopes, you are free to make the most of enjoy your snow covered adventure, wherever in the world it may take you.

For more information about off-piste cover and other safety information, click here

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