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How my ski dream turned to reality- My Story Freefloski

‘Ski teaching is not a proper job… Get a proper job…’ is what everyone would tell me.

My story is different from most other stories. The majority of ski instructors come from a ski racing background. They are people who are born in the mountains and on skis. Just like you, I was an ordinary British person who was born in England where there was no snow or large mountains to ski down. A career of being a ski teacher was not recognised as being a proper job.

My first ski experience:

I will never forget my first ski experience. I was on holiday at nine years old with my family. We started skiing in a small resort in Spain and the whole week was a total disaster and a bad memory for me. I hated every moment of it, carrying my skis, wearing heavy and uncomfortable boots and being cold.

My instructor didn’t speak any English and had very little patience. To make matters worse, my brother picked skiing quickly up and was zooming effortlessly down the mountain. Next was my sister, with a full face of make-up, who adopted the perfect ski technique. I was a total disaster. I couldn’t turn left, I couldn’t turn right and I couldn’t get up to the top of the slope on a lift. It was a real struggle and not easy. I was scared and I didn’t understand anything. I didn’t know the ‘How to ski..’

skiing
Mastering the technique of falling over at 10 years old

At the end of my first week of skiing, the instructor did manage a sentence in English. He said to my parents, “Skiing is not for your daughter. ” Hearing that sentence just destroyed me and gave me no confidence at all. 

However, my Dad had other ideas. I wasn’t allowed to give up. Through his eyes giving up was a failure. Because of my Dad, I was back skiing again with the family on the next winter holiday.

A few years past, like millions of other people I found myself going down the path of getting a proper job. I finished my GCSE’s then my A’levels and started University in Nottingham. But I wasn’t motivated, fulfilled or happy and I knew deep down that something was missing.

After University:

After one teaching term, against my parent’s wishes, I left University. I started the next winter as a chalet girl in the ski resort of Courmayeur in Italy with Ski Inghams. The drinking and party culture of being a chalet girl had completely influenced me. One Sunday I was hungover and sitting on the chairlift in resort when I found myself talking to a stranger. The stranger’s name was Brian Fern. At the time he was a ski trainer for BASI which is the British Association of Ski Instructors. I remember thinking WOW, how cool is that he skies for a living. ! Working your passion.  I then saw him ski for the first time and I thought to myself that he was a SKI GOD…because he was amazing and made every turn with no effort. I was in love!

off piste skiing
European Mountain Safety in Chamonix     2007

That was the beginning of a fourteen winter struggle through the ski instructors system. I gave up everything and followed my dreams. I was a ski bum in pursuit of a ski teaching career in France! It wasn’t easy. Most summers I was working two jobs to finance the winter training and exams. I slept on some floors to save accommodation costs and sometimes I would sleep in my car. 

I remember starting my APC Level 3 Ski Coach course in a pair of twin tips skis and baggy pants. At the time I couldn’t afford the race skis and a nice shiny lycra race suit.

The ISTD level 4  is the last level out of the four levels of the system. It was the hardest and took me five winters to complete. The training and exams took their toll financially and physically. I remember the start of my 30’s being the broken years. I had encountered so many injuries, several broken bones, a couple of dislocations, torn tendons, concussion and a fused c8 vertebrae. Despite all the injuries and lack of funds I still had the drive and determination to finish the diploma. I didn’t want to be old in my rocking chair and have any regrets about life.

The turning point:

What was a turning point for me in this difficult time? I looked into how to improve different parts of my skiing. With research and speaking to others, I tested new strategies.  I developed ways of becoming a better ski athlete. I listened and made the changes and improved my skiing. From the inspiration of reading the book the Inner Game to Skiing and later the Inner Game to Tennis I also started to train my mind and to improve my mindset and as a result, my skiing and understanding went to the next level. I still coach these methods today and you can read another post on the Here and now in skiing that I have written.

It was the difference between night and day and in December 2012 with bib number 75 in Alpe D’huez I passed my euro test. I was the fastest girl in the race and .92 of a second inside the time. This achievement was the passport to my career in teaching skiing in France. I was so thrilled and overjoyed!!!! I was the 37th British woman to have ever passed this particular ski race. 

Today:

Now I teach people all the lessons I have learnt. The lessons. The mistakes. The secrets. The ski adventures. The ‘How’ …

If you’d like me to take a look at your skiing or give you some invaluable ski holiday advice drop me an email to [email protected]I have some free available one to one call sessions available.

I will look forward to hearing from you soon.

All the best

Floss

P.S: For more skiing advice and tips subscribe and like us on youtube.

Ski Touring
Jocelyn Cockle, Director of FREEFLOSKI

P.S.S: Further reading that I recommend to help you to control your mindset is The Chimp Paradox by Professor Steve Peters. It is a fantastic read which can help you in your day to day routines.

 

Part 1: Ski touring Col Des Fours, Val D’Isere

Part 1: Ski Touring the Col Des Fours in Val D’Isere

Ski touring the Col Des Fours in Val D’Isere is part 1 of my top five classic ski tours in the Tarentaise Valley in the Northern French Alps. It is also part one of the series Best Ski Touring Routes on my Freefloski youtube channel

Its a low intermediate ski tour with only a 480m of ascent. For your efforts, you are rewarded with amazing views and over 1000m of vertical off-piste descent into the Vallon Des Fours. It is a great introductory tour for skiers who have some experience in ski touring already. But it is a tour where your timing is everything! You need to make sure that you have big enough weather window and that you time the last traverse to perfection.

Ski touring Col Des Fours

Route: Fornet, Val D’Isere- Col Des Fours- Fornet, Val D’Isere
Off-Piste skiing: 2976m -1915m W/NW/N
Max Ski Gradient: 38 degrees
Uphill: 480m 1.5 to 2hrs
Total Route time from Fornet: 5-6hrs 
Skiers Level: Intermediate off-piste skier
Ski Touring Level: Low Intermediate
Start: Fornet cable car
Finish: Fornet cable car
Lift pass needed: Val D’Isere
Map needed: 3633ET

Depending on your size of the group and the speed of the group this tour in the winter you can actually start in Tignes and ski over to Fornet and ski back depending on your size of the group and the speed of the group. In springtime when the snowpack is warming I would advise you to start in Fornet in Val D’Isere so you aren’t depending on a ski lift home.

You start on the Col D’Iseran and ski down southwest to Pont de la Neige. At the bridge, you will find a flat area so you can transition to uphill skiing. From there you climb 480m to the col. If you are careful with your line you don’t need to be able to do a kick turn. The last two hundred metres of the tour is the most difficult and its when the timing is everything.  It’s a 200m traverse which is slightly exposed and often icy. As the pitch above the traverse is southeast facing it has the sun on it early and the snowpack warms and often releases some slides.

At the Col des Fours, Val d’Isere

After you reach the col you have endless options of skiing different lines to the Refuge Des Fours. Choosing your ski down after the refuge becomes a little bit more tricky as you are in more complication terrain. Depending on snow conditions you can then decide to keep left or right of the river des fours back and then back to the Manchet chairlift.

For more ski touring tips see blog:  5 Ski and Snowboard Touring Technique Tips

Ski tour in comfort and performance; I choose nothing but the best and highly recommend the backcountry selection from Floâ Sports,’ Jocelyn Cockle (Floss) Director of Freefloski

FREEFLO specializes in progressive on and off-piste ski instruction, backcountry ski touring and women-specific ski courses. We offer personal British ski instruction for skiers of all abilities. Our primary objective is helping competent skiers to improve their technique on and off-piste and in the backcountry. Our intuitive coach approach will help you to progress, have fun and enjoy the full freedom of the mountains in a safe and confident manner.

Behind the scenes of the Refuge De Leisse: Ski Touring and Skiing Off Piste Tignes and Val D’Isere

The Refuge De Leisse is behind the Grand Motte glacier in Tignes and can be accessed by many different routes. After my second season of ski teaching and guiding in the Espace Killy I am still amazed as to what this area has to offer. There are so many good off piste and ski touring routes beyond your dreams. I know instructors and people that have lived in Tignes and Val D’Isere for years and they have never seen the places that I have been too, the places that I have fallen in love with and places that I am still discovering. I get so excited when I have spare time which I spend hiking, touring and skiing these routes.

Beyond the pistes of Tignes and Val D’Isere holds the wilderness and natural beauty of the Vanoise National Park.  In the parks in France and around the world there are mountain refuges. The best way to describe a refuge is that they are very similar to lodges. Many of these refuges are on hiking or ski touring routes so you can actually travel refuge to refuge, hut to hut. A lot of refuges are not manned for the main part of the winter and they are left as a winter room where you can stay for shelter. End of March to mid May dependant on snow and conditions these refuges are open and offer food and accommodation. The guardian of the refuge often ski tours in the winter or hikes in the summer into them which can take hours and sometimes days, just to start work. Each refuge is self suffcient as there are no supermarkets or corner shops nearby, the water supply is often a mountain stream which is diverted to the refuge. The water from the trough of the Refuge De La Leisse is the best I have ever drunk. Most food and supples are heli dropped once every couple of weeks. Most refuges are ran by solar power and the light switches are on a timer, you also don’t have internet access or any phone signal.

Map showing the route to refuge de Leisse, Tignes
IGN Map showing the route to refuge de Leisse, Tignes

The easier route is skiing off piste from the Genepy piste around the back of the Leisse chairlift and then over the frozen marshlands. If you wanted to embark a more difficult route you can drop into 35 Glacier couloir and get to the refuge. You also can also arrive to the refuge by the Col De Sana, Refuge De La Femma, Col De Vanoise, the list is endless. Celine Terryn is the guardian of the refuge de Leisse. She will welcome you with open arms and make sure that your stay is as comfortable as she can.

Celine can tell you many good stories, ‘ One day I  was ski touring alone to the refuge and the weather came in.  I ended up touring in circles as I couldn’t see anything. It took me hours to get to the refuge as the only ski tracks I could follow was mine and they were going in circles.’  I  asked her what happens when the weather gets really bad. She replied ‘This season the weather has been very up and down, when the winds get very strong I often stay in a room which is underground.’ The word brave entered my head. Like most of us doing seasonal work we have many strings to our bow and have many passions. Celine is a chartered physiotherapist when she isn’t working at the refuge and she surfs when she can. She is living the dream.

For more information visit the website of the refuge de Leisse.

Weather: How to read mountain weather for a ski touring or mountain adventure

Nowhere are we more vulnerable to the weather than on a mountain top or when we are traveling in the mountains. 

Reading mountain weather is a vital skill to ensure that you take the safest route in the mountains. I have taught skiing and lead groups in the mountains in summer and winter for over eighteen years. With my knowledge and experience here are some valid tips and some of my insights to weather.

Before you plan your adventure:
Before planning a trip or adventure read two or three weather forecasts the night before. Work out if all weather forecasts are telling you the same story. You can also look at weather charts to assess low and high-pressure fronts and where they have come from. Reassess the forecasts in the morning to see if there have been any changes. One of the forecasts that I use is snow-forecast. I can access a nine-day forecast which allows me to see what the weather is doing further away. This is a good tool to have and helps when planning a two or three-day ski touring expedition.

Assess before you start your ski or mountain adventure:
Assess the weather where you are. These are the questions that you need to be asking yourself. What altitude are you at? Is there any wind? What is the visibility? Are there any clouds in the sky? What is the temperature? Is the weather matching to the forecasts that you have seen? In most ski resorts there will be an information center where you can find out the forecast. Also at some ski lifts the weather and temperature are displayed. On my PEPS inclinometer, I have a temperature gauge so I can read the temperature throughout my journey. This also helps with the decision making in avalanche terrain.

Blue skies and no weather fronts in vision on the horizon

Assess on the route:
This is where most people go wrong and get into danger whether it’s in an avalanche or they get caught in bad weather. NEVER have tunnel vision and solely focus on one goal, one summit or one route. You have to be flexible and adapt your journey to the weather you have and predict the weather that is coming. Assess the conditions where you are and ask yourself similar questions. What altitude are you at? Has the wind increased or decreased? What is the visibility? Is the weather changing for better or for the worst? What is the temperature doing? On average the temperature cools down one degree for every 100 meters that you climb. Is that happening? What are your exits? What is your plan B if the weather comes in?

In the French alps you can get weather forecasts in the mountain refuges if they are open. Some satellite phones and trackers allow you to receive forecasts whilst you are traveling. Check on the GTC website for which trackers or satellite phones to carry on your backcountry adventure.

For weather prediction get to know different cloud types and what they predict. For example, cirrus clouds are high altitude clouds which indicate a change in fronts. Get to know the altitude and what direction mountain peaks are around you. Is there any snow wind drift coming off the summits which indicate high altitude winds?

Cirrus clouds which indicate a change of weather

Read more blogs and follow our adventures on Facebook and Instagram

In the winter I run mountain respect workshops if you would like more info drop me an email at [email protected]

FREEFLO specializes in progressive on and off-piste ski instruction, backcountry ski touring and women-specific ski courses. We offer personal British ski instruction for skiers of all abilities. Our primary objective is helping competent skiers to improve their technique on and off-piste and in the backcountry. Our intuitive coach approach will help you to progress, have fun and enjoy the full freedom of the mountains in a safe and confident manner.

Free Flo

FREEFLO Mountain Respect Workshops in Tignes for 2017/18

Step up your avalanche game!
This winter we are running avalanche training and snow awareness workshops in Tignes as last winter season, 2016/17 there were more avalanches and incidents than in a normal season.  This was a result of an unstable snowpack, caused by variation in temperature, high winds and the type of snow that fell. Out of the19 ski seasons I have done this one had the most avalanche activity I have ever seen.

New ski technology and the fast-growing trend in winter sports means more and more people are venturing into the off piste. They have good equipment but a with a lack of snow awareness and a lack of experience sometimes bad and riskier decisions are being made. The mind-set of getting ‘fresh powder tracks’ is creating a culture that shows little respect for others as groups and individuals are just focused on themselves.

Most of the time people get away with their route selection and decisions.  However, it’s a risky game to play and sooner or later it could be you or your friends who get caught out and trigger an avalanche onto someone else, or even be in it yourselves.

This is when you need to be ready.

I have a lot of clients, friends and seasonal workers that ask me how they can be safer in the off piste and backcountry. So, new for this winter, with 16 seasons ski teaching and guiding behind me, I am delighted to be coaching and introducing affordable half day FREEFLO Mountain Respect Workshops in Tignes.

The workshops are designed to help you be safer and make better decisions whilst off piste and in the backcountry. They will give you more snow and avalanche awareness and you will learn the skills that I use to help make the best decisions I can in avalanche terrain.

FREEFLO Making the right decisions in avalanche terrain Workshop
13th Dec 2017
14th March 2018

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FREEFLO Avalanche Transceiver Training Workshop
12th Dec 2017
13th March 2018

Avalanche training Womens
For more information on the workshops please visit FREEFLO If dates aren’t suitable or work for you drop us an email: [email protected] and we will be able to tailor other dates and workshops for you, your chalet staff, your clients or friends.

BE SAFE OUT THERE…..

Floss

BASI ISTD International Ski Teacher
APC Race coach Level 2
Mountain Leader MTA

Stay connected and like us on:

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Ski Touring North Face of the Pramecou, Tignes

Route: Val Claret Tignes/Pointe De Pramecou/Val Claret
Off Piste skiing between: 3054m to 2107m NE/NW
Max Gradient: 48 degrees
Uphill: 3hrs 12 mins
Total Route time from Val Claret: 5hrs
Skiers Level:Advanced off piste
Ski Touring Level: Intermediate
Start: Bottom of Lanches Chairlift
Finish: At bottom Tichot chairlift
Map needed: 3633ET
Grade: 2.1
Exposure: E2

I just love Spring time. Its warmer, the snow pack is more stable and I have more time to go on adventures. Last year touring up and skiing down the 48 degree North Face of the Pramecou on the 9th May 2016 with adventurer and good friend Squash Falconer was one of my vivd memories of 2015/16. From that day onwards we came up with the idea of running backcountry adventures together to inspire, to teach and to motivate people to adventure into the back country. With one of the largest winter store retailers Snow & Rock behind us, in a few days time I am looking forward joining up with Squash and to leading the Snow and Rock Back Country 5 day Backcountry Adventure in Tignes and Val D’Isere.

Fresh Ski tracks on the North Face of the Pramecou
Fresh Ski tracks on the North Face of the Pramecou
Celebrating the fresh powder tracks on a 48 degree North Face
Celebrating the fresh powder tracks on a 48 degree North Face
Ski touring up to the Pointe De Pramecou
Ski touring up to the Pointe De Pramecou

FREEFLO specializes in progressive on and off-piste ski instruction, backcountry ski touring and women-specific ski courses. We offer personal British ski instruction for skiers of all abilities. Our primary objective is helping competent skiers to improve their technique on and off-piste and in the backcountry. Our intuitive coach approach will help you to progress, have fun and enjoy the full freedom of the mountains in a safe and confident manner.

Pisteurs Couloir: Off Piste Skiing and Ski Touring Val D’Isere and Tignes

Route: Tignes/Pisteurs Couloir/Tignes
Off Piste skiing between: 2770m-2441m N
Max Gradient: 43/45 degrees
Uphill: 25 to 40 mins boot hike dependant on conditions
Total Return Route time from Tignes:3.5/4hrs
Skiers Level: Advanced off piste
Start: From the top of the Grand Pre Chairlift
Finish: At bottom Fontaine Froide
Lift pass needed: Espace Killy
Map needed: 3633ET
Grade: 3:1
Exposure: E3

The north face of the Charvet is a super classic route reserved for skiers experienced in committing terrain. It is not  route for the faint hearted. From the top the Grand pre chairlift you hike up to the rocher de Charvet . Continue along the ridge line to the end. The far right entrance normally avalanche prone so its better to access from the top different route opportunities on the way down. Hire a British instructor to take you to these amazing secrets to improve your off piste skiing and increase your route knowledge using fatmap.

Steep skiing Tignes Val D'Isere
Steep skiing Tignes Val D’Isere

Steep skiing Pisteurs couloir tignes val D'sere
Steep skiing Pisteurs couloir tignes val D’sere
Steep skiing Tignes Val D'Isere
Steep skiing Tignes Val D’Isere

FREEFLOSKI offers Elite British Ski Coaching in the snowsure resorts of Tignes, Val D’Isere and La Grave. We specialise in all mountain and off piste skiing, plus backcountry ski touring and women specific ski courses. Step into your next adventure with FREEFLOSKI www.freefloski.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

Couloir skiing

 

 

Inspire you adventure

Teaming up with the Adventurer Squash Falconer FREEFLO is proud and excited to announce  being a part of a very special and exclusive Snow & Rock evening ‘Inspiring Your Adventure’on Wednesday 19th October at the Snow+Rock flagship store in Covent Garden in London.

Enjoy drinks and nibbles whilst listening to adventures. Get FREE advice and take full advantage of the generous 15% OFF discount on the new outdoor collection in store. Tickets are only £5 and all proceeds go to the Bowl Cancer UK charity. For further details and bookings please visit: https://inspiringwithsquashandfloss.eventbrite.com

We are also teaming up together with Snow & Rock to run Two Off Piste and Backcountry adventures for next winter on the 8th January and 16th of April 2017 in the Espace Killy. Further details will follow.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Step into your next adventure with FREEFLO and Squash Falconer.

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FREEFLO specialises in progressive on and off piste skiing, backcountry ski touring and women specific ski courses in Tignes, Val D’Isere, St Foy and La Grave. Please visit our site: www.freefloski.com  and join our newsletter for free. Like us on Facebook and Instagram and we will keep you up to date on posts, photos and videos for free. Check out more adventures with Squash at squashfalconer.com.

Off Piste Tignes and Ski Tour to Pointe Boussac

Short uphill for more downhill: Episode 1
Just after or even when it is snowing everyone rushes out on the mountain to ski fresh powder to get the adrenaline rush of skiing lines off piste with that remarkable floating feeling. Often the powder which is accessible by the lifts in big resorts are skied out by the end of the morning. Some days when I am teaching on the hill most places are skied out by 11am, thats when knowing the mountain is to your advantage. With knowledge and understanding you can ski further a field into the backcountry and go to the secret places to find the stash of powder where less people go. I really enjoy this new type of skiing as you have best of both worlds touring up hill and longer lines off piste downhill.

Route: Pointe Boussac Tignes/Val D’Isere
Off Piste skiing between: 2407m -3070m NE/NW
Max Gradient: 38-40 degrees
Uphill: 40 mins
Total Route time from funicular: 2.5hrs
Total Return Route time from Tignes:3.5/4hrs
Skiers Level: Intermediate/Advanced off piste
Ski Touring Level: Intermediate/Advanced
Start: From the top of the funicular in Val Claret
Finish: At bottom Fontaine Froide
Lift pass needed: Espace Killy
Map needed: 3633ET

OS Pointe Boussac, Tignes
OS Pointe Boussac, Tignes

This route is a great route that you can achieve in half a day and you feel like you have achieved a bit of everything a summit, steep uphill ascent and a longer time skiing off piste. The difficulty is the last 200m of the accent where it is vertically challenging and you need to be good with your kick turns but if all else fails you can always boot up. The off piste lines off the Pointe Boussac are in abundance and are as varied and challenging as you want them to be!

If you would like to ski this route or another route similar please get in contact with FREEFLO. FREEFLO specialises in progressive on and off piste skiing, backcountry ski touring and women specific ski courses in Tignes, Val D’Isere and La Grave. Please visit our site: www.freefloski.com . Like us on Facebook and Instagram and we will keep you up to date on posts, photos and videos for free.

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www.freefloski.com

Step into your next adventure with FREEFLO. We look forward to skiing with you.

Step into your next adventure

New Year, New Start and New Courses

Winter 2015/16 has definitely arrived and its exciting times for FREEFLO. I have rebranded from JCSkiing to FREEFLO with a focused offer of progressive on and off piste skiing, backcountry ski touring and women specific ski courses.

Our brand new website has had a facelift and we’d love you to follow us on social media for updates and news. For full effect, check out the new Instagram account which allows you to share the passion without even being here!

As I start my 16th season of teaching, and my third season in the Espace Killy, my passion and skiing and coaching has never been stronger. There are always more mountains to explore and new routes to find.

This season I’m returning to the off piste mecca of La Grave in the Southern French Alps to deliver my Off-Piste Experience course. Unfortunately both courses are fully booked, however, I’m sure I’ll be heading back there in the future, I love La Grave!

With excellent feedback from last season’s courses FREEFLO has partnered up with Mountain Sun and the Melezes Hotel  where the staff are so friendly and the food is so good. FREEFLO is offering a Womens Introduction to Ski Touring Weekend, which is made by women, for women! You can be relaxed and be yourself whilst skiing at your own pace and learning and making like minded friends on the way. For all you women out there step into your next adventure and come and join us. Get in touch via [email protected]

Womens Intro Ski Touring Weekend

To finish our season with a bang we are offering an Off piste and Ski touring course for the intermediate skier who has had experience skiing off piste and a small amount of ski touring. This course is all about the search of good snow and stepping a bit further away from the pistes. You will stay in a comfortable 4* chalet where you will be fed and look after a great day on the hill. What could be more appealing?

Step into your next adventure

With a focus on holistic performance, for all our courses we have a new partnership with Etixx UK, to offer complimentary elite nutrition to fuel your days on the hill and offers against future purchases. We are also kindly supported by FatmapEmber GlovesSnow-Forecast and Tignes Spirit.

Great memories and adventures are up for grabs. Start your 2016 on a high and we will look forward to skiing with you.

Jocelyn Cockle (Floss)
Director of FREEFLO

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www.freefloski.com