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I have just finished a six week stay in the Austrian mountains. During my stay I skied with a group of amazing people from all over the world, and it has been unique and life enhancing. My stay was organised by It consisted of a four week training course and a 10 day exam period, leading to a ski teaching qualification called the Anwärter. I had begun studying German in May 2015 in preparation. The four week training course passed quite quickly, the SIA Coaches worked quite hard with my group, and put in long days. My German skills were tested in exercises and I was pleased to hear that my vocabulary was ok and my accent declared not too bad!

I have relearned the snowplough, and up unweighting at the start of a turn!

At the end of four weeks, my group were passed to the selected examining body, who are an Academy from Vienna. We had now entered the Exam phase. For the first two days, we were with an Examiner who engaged us, and motivated the group and individuals to achieve a higher standard of skiing. Unforseen circumstances meant that we were then passed to another Examiner for the remainder of the ten days.

The new Examiner spoke almost entirely in German.  I could not follow what he said. A couple of group members were fluent German speakers, so I took to regularly asking them what this man wanted, once he’d delivered his mumbled monotone instructions and walked off. He never once made it to the meeting point on time. We were left standing around waiting.  Power Play? New Watch needed?

By now, you are probably wondering why this entry is called Granny. Well, we were each required to run a warm up session. One of these was themed to Pulp Fiction,  which was released in 1994. After the warm up session was completed, the Examiner criticised my fellow student on his choice of theme. This critique was based on the premise that “someone my age” (points at me) “might not have seen Pulp Fiction”. The Examiner then went on to call me Granny in front of the group. There was no evidence of humour.


Here I am in another ski year, doing my best Granny impersonation.

I was not impressed, but I really did not care that this man thought I was old. His job was to conduct Exams in skiing, and I was skiing before he was born.

Each evening this Examiner ran mandatory Lectures which we all attended. They took place predominantly in German, and were delivered mostly in monologue with no audience engagement. We needed willpower to stay awake! One of my fellow students observed that the Examiner seemed to suck the life energy from the group.

One of the underpinning principles for Austrian Ski Teachers when working with pupils, is the concept of Lob-Kritik-Lob (praise-criticism-praise). It’s in the “Ski Lehrer Buch” . My Examiner had apparently dispensed with the Lob elements. I did observe him curling his lip after I completed a run I was not happy with. His comment to me:  “Expectations for your age group are lower”


Another of the group commented to me that they had no idea if what they were doing was correct, since the Examiner said nothing at all to them.

When wishing to speak with a group member, the Examiner would extend one arm and summon the person by curling a finger at them. I also observed him wagging a finger up close to a face, intruding into personal space.

He criticised one group member for not using “complicated enough German” when they ran a session.

Could it be that they ran their session based on the needs of the learner group?

It’s been a fact for many years, that I learn in an unconventional way. I get by. I don’t feel the need to tell folks that I have a brain injury, unless it becomes apparent. I am not an impaired learner, and last year passed two Sailing Exams without difficulty. On the ninth day of the Examination period, the Examiner removed from my possession the means by which I would have triggered my memories. He thought he was taking my notes from me, the memory triggers were not notes, and I spent quite a while preparing them. This left me unable to run the Session he had set. My peers attempted to help me out, but I did not have enough of the information in primary memory. The Examiner stopped the session, calling it “Not the Austrian Progression”.

No Shit Sherlock

He did the finger curling summons to me. I went over. I told him I had a brain injury, he shrugged.

That was the final straw for me. So I told him I quit, he shrugged again, and I skied off. His power over me ceased at that point in time. It was quite a relief.

I contacted the original Examiner and advised him of the situation. He told me, that it’s the style of the Academy. Everyone else in my group hung in there, most, not all passed their Exams.

Age is just a number. What we do with our lives is far more important.

I spent many years empowering learners to achieve their goals, for which I was well paid. Human potential is awesome. I don’t appreciate abuse of power, bullies and blatant ageism, it limits potential. It’s not my style.

Megeve Powder

This is more my style. Off piste Megeve. Avvy Level 5. Photo Tinderbox Ski

This post first appeared on Sunshack | Summer In The Sun Winter In The Mountains, please read the originial post: here

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