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I'm stuck in the UK and it hurts - Sarah Vizard
Sunday December 7, 2008 - Email this article to a friend

After a few seasons in the Alps I've decided to be sensible and move back to the real world. Any regrets? Sort of.

Amazing snow conditions and early resort openings have made me question my decision.

It certainly seems to be one of the best starts to the season for years, and I've something to compare it to as I spent three years working in the Alps for holiday firms in France and Italy.

Usually by December I'd already have been out in the mountains for at least three weeks, but this year I decided it was finally time to give up the fun, the drinking and the skiing in favour of heading back to London to study.

resort_workers_400Having spoken to friends who have returned for another season I’m beginning to question my judgement.

Victoria Rutherford, currently running a hotel in Norway, told me: “There is such an amazing amount of snow falling. We’ve been getting first tracks and fresh powder already.” Not really what I wanted to hear.

I did my first ski season straight out of university getting a job as a hotel host in Deux Alpes, France. Jobs in ski resort are notorious for being badly paid with staff given poor accommodation and awful food for the privilege of being able to ski every day.

All true.

My first season I was paid £50 a week and survived in a room big enough to fit two beds in and toilets and showers that were constantly blocked. Gastric flu ravaged the staff and we lovingly called it ‘Death Row’. But I had an absolute blast.

powder_for_sv_400The work was hard and long, especially on transfer days when we often had to be up for work at 3am and finished at ten in the evening.

But one look outside and it was all worth it.

I and the rest of the staff were up the mountain at least five days a week, unless it was a whiteout when we could usually be found out the back of staff accommodation building a small kicker to play on.  Before doing seasons I used to ski once or twice annually, and my skiing only ever reached average intermediate. 20 weeks a year however, and I was flying down even the hardest pistes, tackling off-piste and even trying my hand at some jumps, somewhat unimpressively.

We were there for all the big snowfalls and fresh powder.

We soon knew all the best places to get first tracks, where was best to ski in fog or high wind and, most importantly, the times of all the après happy hours at the bars on the way back down.

I did this for three consecutive winters, progressing up to the slightly better paid and better accommodation for being "Head of Housekeeping".

loo_400But, in the end, I decided I couldn’t do this forever and that possibly if I didn’t stop now I never would. I'm also pleased not to be cleaning loos!

So at the beginning of this summer I applied for a journalism course in London which I started in September. I was worried I might have forgotten how to study and revise, but it’s come surprisingly easily. I still feel a pang of jealousy as everybody heads off for five months in the snow, especially, as my friend Craig, out in Alpe d’Huez, told me “it snowed 40cms in five hours.”

But I won’t miss the early starts, late finishes, split shifts and ridiculous lack of sleep.

 I’m pretty sure my liver too will thank me for the reduction in my drinking. Possibly I made the right decision and it was time to move on.

Though with all this snow and the number of spare beds I know of in resorts, I will be getting out to the Alps as much as possible this winter - here’s hoping the snow lasts.

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