Ex Winter Challenge 2015


Southampton University Officer Training Corps

After a long coach journey from Southampton to St Johann, Austria, 40 Officer Cadets from SouthamptonUOTC and 4 instructors arrived at the resort of Alpendorf at midday on Sunday 5th April.

Upon arrival, we were each issued with the necessary kit including skis and boots and were allocated our dorms for the week.

After an early start on Monday morning, we boarded the coach to take to Alpendorf, excited to begin our week of skiing. We were split into 4 groups, and introduced to our instructors for the week. The first gondola journey to the top of the mountain seemed to take forever, with the anticipation of the first run growing.

In contrast to the bottom of the mountain, at the top it was snowing heavily, which although sounding very exciting, made the visibility on the first and second day poor, requiring extra vigilance from all on the mountain. As the weather improved throughout the week, the views became more and more spectacular, although photos couldn’t do them justice. We began the week tackling the nursery slopes, practicing our skiing technique and growing in confidence, before moving onto blue slopes to challenge ourselves further. On the nursery slopes, we were taught how to slow down using the snow plough method, how to turn whilst in snow plough and also how to get up and put our skis back on if we were to take a tumble.

Fun on the slopes

On Tuesday morning we continued practicing what we had learnt on Monday, and in the afternoon, instead of taking the T-bar lifts on the nursery slopes, we advanced and took the 6-man lift for the first time! Throughout the week, the chair lifts became quite a spectacle and somewhat entertaining to watch, as Officer Cadets somehow struggled to grasp the concept and simplicity of the lifts. Ski poles were dropped and bent, goggles were lost, the automatic safety bar was forced up and even the occasional seat was missed! Each evening we came together for a debrief after the days skiing, and on Tuesday and Thursday evening, the instructors delivered lessons on weather, avalanches, kit and equipment, and first aid, which were required in order for us all to gain Ski Foundation Level 1 qualification (SF1).

Wednesday flew past, and the sudden realisation that we were half way through our week of skiing was surprising! The hotel that we stayed at offered an ‘All you can eat BBQ ribs’ night on Wednesday, which went down an absolute treat.

Friday was our last day of instructed skiing, and so the instructors decided to take us all to the same restaurant for lunch, called Krapfenalm. It was notorious for their delicious donuts, filled with either sweet or savoury filling, such as bacon, egg and potato, or chocolate, ice cream and sauce! Having all achieved our SF1 qualification on Friday, we were able to go skiing with other Officer Cadets on Saturday without the instructors’ supervision. Once we handed our kit back in to the ski hire shop, tidied our dorms and boarded the coach, the long coach journey back to Southampton began. I’m sure many others agreed that this had been one of the best weeks of our time at OTC and I hope to progress to SF2 next year.

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