Warren Smith: Ski Instructor to the Stars and Royals

The legendary freeride skier runs his Ski Academy in Verbier in Switzerland and in Cervinia in Italy, where he fixes those parts of your ski technique that you simply can't fix on your own.

Hosted ByPeter & Felice

Warren Smith

Peter We’re specialist travel writers. And we’ve spent half a lifetime exploring every corner of the world.

Felice So we want to share with you some of our extraordinary experiences and the amazing people we’ve met along the way.

Peter This week, we’re talking to legendary freeride skier, Warren Smith. Warren runs his Ski Academy in Verbier in Switzerland and in Cervinia in Italy, where he fixes those parts of your ski technique that you simply can’t fix on your own. And he’s also one of our all -time favourite ski companions, both on and off the slopes.

Wozza, welcome to our podcast now we’ve known each other a long time, and it’s just great to have you on board as our guest for what is unbelievably our 50th episode of action packed travel, coming to you from the Swiss resort of Verbier. You still managed to ski every day during what for us here in the UK has become the season that never was. Now, skiing is often unfairly cast as an elite sport for the moneyed middle classes. But you grew up living on a pretty basic social housing estate in the Hertfordshire town of Hemel Hempstead, 25 miles north of London. You don’t come from a privileged background at all. So how did skiing come to be the linchpin of your life?

Warren No, I don’t. To be honest, I’m in a slightly different direction. But luckily for snowsports, I think it’s become much more of a common direction for skiers coming through. Thank God for dry ski slopes being built back in the day, because it was one of the things – it was the thing – that gets you into skiing. I came from a council estate and in Hemel Hempstead and right next door to where I lived, they built a skateboard park back in the ’70s, and I used to BMX there as a kid.

And then they knocked the skateboard park down, built a dry ski slope. We weren’t very happy about it, put it that way, but in one way or another, I ended up doing a bit of work at the dry ski slopes – setting ski bindings. And that was my in-road to skiing. I’ve never looked back, really. It wasn’t conventional, but it was bizarre in a way, and then I obviously fell in love with the sport like you guys obviously did. And yes, I always feel sort of very lucky. If I look at the view from the balcony, I think I appreciate it. Especially the older I get, I appreciate it even more.

Felice So when did you first see snow, I mean…to ski on?

Warren Smith

 

Warren Firstly, it was on a school ski trip, so I went on one of those snow coach holidays, saved up the money. I used to have a car cleaning round in Hemel Hempstead. I used to go knock on the doors, clean people’s cars. Funny enough, is was actually a really lucrative business back when I was about 12 or 13 years old. So I did that and I ended up getting loads of cash. And I used to pay off this thing, these little payments you do weekly for your school ski trip. And it was only, I guess, a few hundred bucks back in the day, but that was brilliant. It got me out to Austria on a coach and I fell in love with it. And then I never went again until I went to Austria to go and teach skiing.

And a few of us ended up going across to Austria through connections made at the dry ski slope and I went out there. And I was blown away by it really, it was just a little bit of a dream, a bit of a fantasy, going out there and living that lifestyle. And then it was also obviously very depressing over the summers coming back thinking: ‘Oh God, when is the winter going to start again?’ and I guess so many people did get that vibe. And, you know, the dry ski slope filled in for us between gaps, really.

Felice So did you teach on a ski slope before you went out to teach on snow?

Warren I got my ASSI, the dry ski slope qualification, and then I went to Austria and then got more qualified and worked my way through it. I think dry slopes are brilliant, I think they are such a part of the heritage of British skiing. You know, great ski racers have come from it, great freestylers have come from it. And they’re just a really good bit of grass roots that have taught loads of us some good basics, really. I’ve broken my thumb a few times, obviously.

Peter You went from there to become one of the leading professional freeskiers and an  internationally qualified performance coach, instructor. And you were a freeride athlete for ten years. How did that come about? How do you actually become a freeride athlete?

Warren Smith

Warren in Völkl advert.

Warren For so many people it’s connections and who you meet, and obviously you’ve got to ski. In 1999, I was very friendly with a person called Jamie Stachan, a well-known British freeskier. He introduced me to the guys on the Völkl team, and then I went for a try-out and did some skiing and went to ski with the right type of people in off-piste situations and then ended up getting signed up to the Völkl team. And I’ve been on the team ever since. So I’m a bit of an old-timer now of that same freeride team, which is unusual for a Brit to get on the Völkl team. But it’s been great and it’s opened a lot of doors. I’ve done some competitions in the past, and then I’ve done a lot of photography and a lot of filming as a professional freeskier for Völkl.

And that’s been a really interesting part of my career. I loved it, broke a few bones, got a few injuries along the way, and met a lot of really passionate skiers. So it’s been a great thing. And obviously along the lines of being on that team, I got to go and ski quite a lot of different places around the world – Japan, trips to the States, to Snowbird in Utah – and went there a few times and that was awesome. And then in Canada, in different areas there, heli-skiing a lot and being able to go and access these areas – alongside like-minded skiers and some of the best experiences of my ski time, really.

Felice So what brought you to Verbier, first of all?

Warren Well, Verbier is one of those destinations. It was always regarded as a freeski mecca. A friend, back at the place we used to ski in the UK, introduced us to Verbier. Me and a friend went out there and it was like being chucked into the deep end to ski around skiers so many times better than I was. And it was literally just hanging on for dear life, really. But it was one of the things that helped me improve my skiing. I fell in love with the place very quickly. It’s very difficult not to in Verbier – there’s a very infectious crowd of people, a great atmosphere, it has got that freeskiing terrain that is never-ending.

I managed to set up my academy here in ‘98, ‘99, and we’d never look back with that really, we’ve been very lucky. Guys like yourselves that written about what we do; we’ve been very lucky or blessed in a way. I think Verbier went through a bit of a surge, a bit of a growth spurt, again because guys like yourselves were writing about it. You were skiing it, and people were feeling very passionate about it, and it grew. And we seem to just be in the right place at the right time. And so I agree with it, really.

Peter So tell us about the Ski Academy?

Warren Ski Academy, I set it up in Verbier. Our philosophy has always been putting biomechanics into layman’s terms, really, and looking at a skier and thinking if this person gets the best ski instructor in the world, it doesn’t matter how good their instructor is, they’re getting held back by physiological issues. So, to the point the instructor could be screaming at them until he’s blue in the face or she’s blue in the face at the fact that these people aren’t making changes in one particular turn direction.

Warren Smith

Warren teaching Lawrence Dallaglio to ski

Warren And I did notice over time, we always used to see skiers having a stronger turning direction. And if you put them onto a steep, exposed face, they might have traversed in one way where they feel a lot of confidence putting that first turn in. Turning the other way, it’s like they almost stopped in their tracks. So we looked a lot deeper at why those reasons were; we went along a testing route to create the ski technique lab, and we combined off-snow training exercises, identification as to what might be a restricted side of someone’s body to turn. And we tried to bring that to the surface in the ski lessons. I’ve haven’t got a degree in biomechanics and a lot of it is very much layman’s terms, but we found a way to translate that into something that was digestible and not overcomplicated.

So that’s kind of the method behind the academy. And we put that to practice with a lot of different people in Verbier. We were very lucky to teach people that probably gave a lot of exposure to our academy. People that were in the celebrity world or the sporting world came and tried it and then they spoke about it or wrote about it. And it was really good. And it’s definitely something that helped grow what we do out here.

Felice So for people that don’t know, what exactly is biomechanics?

Warren Well, it’s looking at how the body can function or move in relation to the sport it’s trying to do. So for example, in skiing, if someone needs to flex and bend their ankles to be able to put flex onto a ski or absorb a mogul or whatever, and you find out when you actually look at someone that the instructor might ask them to flex and extend to a certain degree, but the leg can’t do it. Their calf muscles might be quite tight or they may have endured an injury to an ankle joint that restricts their range of movement. It kind of helps you sort of identify that stuff until sometimes, if you are not aware, you can always put someone through something when you don’t realise they’ve got restrictions or physiological inhibitors.

Warren Smith

Warren demonstrating biomechanics.

So we look at that, it might be that someone’s been screamed at by the instructor saying, ‘Finish off your turn. You’ve really got to finish up your turn. We’re about to go into a black run.’  But this individual doesn’t have the inner steering rotation in the ball and socket joint to actually finish off the turn. What they end up doing is rotating their hips because their leg can’t steer; it never really engages. And it’s things like that we try to identify, that’s kind of for us in ski terms of biomechanics, what it is. It would be very similar to look at someone skiing in an A frame and wondering why they’re getting lots of stress going through their knee joint at the end of a day’s skiing.

And there would be things you could do with a ski boot – footpads inside the ski boot and alignment with the upper cuff of the boot to try and get them ski more symmetrically, more efficiently. So for us, biomechanics is really identifying what that person’s body capabilities are and trying to get them honed in to what skiing requires.

Peter So you’re one of the top ski gurus, not only in Europe, but in the world. Can you teach anyone to ski?

Warren I think so, Peter.

Peter You’ve certainly had a good go at us.

Warren I was just thinking back to very fond memories of our series of great ski days – we actually have had some good days. No, I generally think you can, I think you’ve got to have a bit of a positive outlook on things. If you’re looking at skiing with someone and you just know that the physiological side is not going to help, then take him to somewhere where they’re going to win, take them to that environment where it’s a nice, achievable environment. In my mind., you’re looking at people going around on a sit-ski or skiing with one leg or whatever it might be, and you’re getting positive results.

It really does give you an outlook. But as long as you’ve got an approach where you’re putting things in perspective, I think anyone really can have a pop at the sport and get some kind of positive result. So the very least, we all know some good restaurants on the mountain as well. We could also cheat the skis and just get up to that good restaurant with a nice rosé and have a lovely sunset. And I think that’s a good part of skiing as well.

Peter I think it’s very important that people understand that skiing is not just about going downhill, it is the whole lifestyle. It’s the lunch.

Warren Yes, absolutely. I mean, it’s the environment. But I think also from the point of view, like you’ve just said there, but we’ve seen skiing fix people from a psychological point of view. You know, the outlook and the space that you look at when you’re looking at miles and miles of distance, it does definitely feel like it clears the head. I know it does for me, sometimes. It can make things feel a lot better off with the environment.

Warren Smith

Furano ski resort. Photo: ©Furano Tourism

Felice So apart from Verbier, what are your other favourite places to ski. Would Japan come into the favourites?

Warren I do love Japan. I mean, we you know, we were on that trip together where we all those years back and it was such fond memories. And I think after that trip that we all went down there in 2008, we went down there every year. I think this year is the only year that we’ve not been down there because of the Covid restrictions. And obviously we couldn’t risk going there, but there’s something special about that place. Those turns that we’ve all made together in that weightless powder is really difficult to match.

I mean, the closest I think I’ve come to that was in Utah, that beautiful Utah dried out snow you get in Snowbird and Alta. And that was also fantastic; some of the best skiing I’ve done in the planet. But Japan – the culture, how polite everyone is down there, the food as well.

Peter And never forget the sushi and sake.

Warren Yes, I remember that sake…what was it – 99 bottles? That was quite a big session.

Felice Do you think you’ll go to Japan next year?

Warren Yes, we’ve already planning it. We’re looking at the dates because we’ve had so many people. We normally take around 70 or 80 people to Japan every year, and it was the most disappointing part of all of the things that people couldn’t make this year, from people that wrote to us. So we’re definitely going back next year, we’ve got a good setup down there and it’ll probably be Niseko that we go back to. So, yes, that’s a favourite of ours.

Peter And then what other resorts? I know you go to Cervinia quite a lot.

Warren Smith

Mont Cervin, the Cervinia side of the Matterhorn. Photo: © F.Hardy

Warren Yes, we go there because for us when the typical winter season starts to sort of get a bit burnt, you know, that sort of mid-April going towards May. Weirdly enough, Cervinia, obviously because it’s got that glacier at 3900 meters almost and you’re skiing snow there in April that feels like in most other European resorts you’d be skiing in February. When you’re up high, you’ve got that beauty of the Matterhorn to ski around and that’s quite majestic. So Cervinia is up at 2100 metres and you can ski back to the resort at the end of April, comfortably so.

So we’ve got a good setup there. We stay at the Mon Reve and we’ve created a home from home. So from Verbier being our main base, Cervinia is our home from home. We’ve got a lovely hotel, the guys there treat us like family. And we also go there in the summer. So our summer season kicks off in July, and this summer has been really quite a busy one in terms of bookings, because I think, regardless of whether people can or can’t travel, people have just taken – because we’ve got a full refund policy because of Covid – people have just taken the risk to book our summer courses.

And it does feel like that passion that skiers have, it’s going to be a big bounce back. There’s no doubt about it. I think there’s going to be a lot of holidays booked, a lot of activity in the ski industry, and we’ve already started to see it with the summer courses. So that’s a great thing for Cervinia, for us. We access the Matterhorn Glacier, we’ll be skiing right through the summer. We’ll be back there again in the autumn for the November, December week. So it’s a great venue.

Peter And we skied with you in Saas Fee before now. Do you still go there?

Warren We used to go to Saas Fee. It’s a very special place to be. We spent 10 years there. As my son was growing up it was one of his favourite places to go, all the different activities there, and feeding the marmottes and all sorts of things you could do. But we had to move, unfortunately, because of the things that go on – whether or whether or not people do or don’t agree with climate change, global warming or whatever – what happened to us over the years we were there, we were watching in real time, massive chunks of the glacier breaking off, falling away. And we actually saw that glacier line receding up and up and up the hill.

Warren Smith

So we found it very difficult. In the end, the lower slope of where we would normally go, the glacier on the two patches, the upper and lower the lower disappeared. And we couldn’t use it in the summer. And then we ended up finding that it was closing three days out of the six days on average that people were booking to ski there.

So in 2012, we made the move. We we went across to Cervinia, I tested it out, saw what they had because they had that extra 400 metres up on top; it really did make the difference. So we’ve been stuck there ever since. For me, it feels like the last – that and Stelvio – feel like the last remaining good glaciers because of their height difference. So it definitely is getting more and more difficult to find that high snow.

Felice So I wondered if you had any stories to tell us of things that have gone wrong for you in skiing?

 

Water to Go

 

Warren Things that have gone wrong – I think a lot of it has been injury-based. I mean, I can think of a fancy dress thing over Easter in Verbier, but I’m not sure I could even tell that story in detail. But the things that have gone wrong are definitely injuries. I remember in Japan…funny what is kind of funny, not funny, but I snapped my Achilles tendon in Japan in 2010 in Furano.

It was the most bizarre thing. I was skiing down with a good friend of ours, Nick Southwell. I was skiing, he was filming and I got the tip of my ski caught under a tree and it went under the branch, the roots of the tree and my ski binding didn’t come off. And I lunged forward and I heard this bang, sort of noise go off. And I said, ‘Oh, my God.’ I knew that I had snapped my Achilles. But then the security guys on the mountain were being used for our ski course because we had about 70 or 80 clients out there. And at that time in 2010 you might remember back in 2008, where I got arrested in Japan for skiing off-piste, then they took my lift pass? Well, in 2010, they were being very nice to us because of those relations that were made back back in the day.

And all of the security guys that might have helped me off the mountain were all being used to tour around our guys in our groups off-piste. So I was left with Nick and I was thinking, ‘Right, I can do this. You know, I’m an instructor. I know how to ski on one leg.’ So I lifted my leg up with a broken Achilles and started skiing down. And then we just sort of got this picture. I could see the hotel at the bottom in Furano. I was like, this is good, and just peered over the edge and it was this huge mogul field. And I was just the worst sort of thing. And by that time I’m starting to get a bit drained. And that was one of the funny, weird times in skiing.

Peter Do you ever get frightened skiing, when you’re in competition and you’re going to do something that’s too steep for even you to handle?

Warren Yes, I do get frightened at times, I mean, the things that frighten me are usually the fact that what happened to me when I had my son in 2001, I definitely remember a bit of a change, you know, rather than being a sort of thoughtless idiot, just going off doing anything. I started to get that feeling of ‘Oh, my God, I’m responsible for someone. I need to start to think about it.’ And it was actually from that moment that I started feeling the fear, having a child and that was it. I get that occasionally.

I do get it, especially when we’re trying to access slopes, walking across areas and looking down and you can’t trip here, you can’t make a mistake on the hike across the ridge because you’re going to freefall. So things like that are definitely things that bring me the fear.

Warren Smith

Warren on the right, with Lawrence Dallaglio, left. ‘He’s a big unit.’

Peter Now, you’ve met and skied with lots of big names in sport and show business, and some of them have gone on to become your close friends. Lawrence Dallaglio, former England rugby captain, you taught him to ski, right?

Warren Yes, he’s a big unit. I mean, he came out to Verbier; I was introduced to Lawrence. So Lawrence comes along at the last stages, I guess you could say, of his rugby career. And he came to Verbier that winter, but he was still playing. He was nipping out between games, which I’m not sure he was meant to be doing. Massive figure of a guy. I always remember trying to get him skis, you know, with a size 13 foot. Not sure what the international measurement of a size 13 is, but it was very difficult.

And he learnt very quickly, he’d just been coached by Sir Clive Woodward and we seemed to get on really well. He liked our method of coaching. He always wrote about our method of coaching being something he really related to. And his skiing was incredible. In three weeks, this guy was skiing up on the Mont Fort in Verbier. He was a real natural sportsman, huge amount of confidence. But what was funny about Lawrence was he was so friendly with the general public and people going up to him trying to get an autograph and he would give everybody the time.

But then at night-time, when we go into Rob Sawyer’s bar, the Farinet, he was like, oh, my God, you know, the après-ski that would go on in this place was just something else. And there were stories of us all getting a few rotations in a tumble dryer machine in the Farinet. Some stuff you can talk about, even to a certain degree. But we would have some very good, very fond memories of Lawrence. A great guy. He still skis with us here in Verbier, comes out on a regular basis.

Peter Yes, they were pretty wild times weren’t they? I remember seeing a dive off the bar.

Warren And how many times have us three been in there? The atmosphere is like a whirlwind. It’s like a huge whirlwind of energy that just overtook the whole resort, there’s no two ways about it.

Peter Other people you ski with? I know you’re friends with James Blunt, for example, and you ski with him.

Warren Yes. Blunty, he’s a great skier, James. I have skied with him and his dad out here before. He’s a massive, passionate skier. Just out here in Verbier at the moment. He was only talking the other day about race skis. You know, he’s a very technical skier because he’s obviously been brought up with the ski school here in Verbier, with the army, and those guys were racing quite competitively. So he’s a great skier to be around.

And also the things he’s done for Verbier are amazing. He’s opened a ski lift here and he’s done après-ski sessions, for example, going back to the Farinet, Rob Sawyer’s bar, where unexpectedly James, who had just got a huge international number one hit with You’re Beautiful, at the last minute just jumps on the après-ski stage to an unaware audience that James Blunt’s about to come out and play this massive number one international top-selling musician. And he plays. And it was just memories that are just etched. I’ll never forget that.

Warren Smith

Blunty in the ski resort of Ischgl, 2014. Photo: © P.Hardy

Peter And you met a few movie stars down the line?

Warren Skied with a few people in the business, definitely. And working on the show like The Jump, which is a big show in the UK, the Channel 4 show. We got to teach a lot of people in the TV world, sports world, music world. Skied with the likes of Claudia Schiffer in Verbier with Matthew Vaughn. You know, when he was obviously making Stardust, at the time, quite a well-known film. Claudia came in and those guys, you know, we had a great week together and it was very bizarre, very surreal being on the phone to people like Brad Pitt at lunchtime at Carrefour restaurant, I’m just like, ‘Oh, my God, you’ve got to be kidding me?’ But again, lovely guys and good memories from that.

And, you know, people like Robbie Fowler, for example, the famous Liverpool football player, he was a great guy to be skiing around. And Jason Robinson, he got that try at the famous World Cup final, the Rugby against Australia, he’s been a great guy to ski with. Very quick learners; a lot of these sports guys really pick it up quick.

Peter And of course, you’ve got big royal connections in Verbier because it’s very much a place where some of the royal family come to.

Warren Yes, it is. I’ve skied with Prince Harry quite a few times actually. He’s been off-piste in the Brevent Blanc area, not under our control but he just went off and did a front flip himself, landed it and I remember the security guys were like: ‘Oh my God, what’s he doing?’ But he was a great skier, still is, and throws himself at it. But also Jack and Eugenia, I ski with those guys quite a lot. They’ve just had their baby and they are super passionate skiers. So, yes, I spent a lot of time skiing with guys there. And again, great memories.

Peter And you’ve skied with the Duke and Duchess of York?

Warren Well, yes, exactly. Skied with those guys here, they’ve been coming to Verbier for many years now. The Duchess of York, she’s a fantastic skier, got a great technique and has been skiing in Verbier for many moons, so she’s someone. She had a knee injury, which slowed her down, but she still skis every bit of the off-piste areas around here.

Warren Smith

Warren on his bike.

Felice One of the biggest accidents you ever had, I remember, was falling off your bike.

Warren Oh, God, yes. That was that was a hard time, actually. In fact, I’m sort of still slow to get the skiing back from that. But that was a cycling accident where I was going downhill my bike. And because of Lawrence Dallaglio, the rugby guy we were just talking about, he got me into road cycling. And with the road cycling, I became very passionate about it. Because of the skiing, it helped me with the balance on the bike.

So I was really enjoying it. We used to do these quite big cycling events where we’d be raising money for a charity and then cycling for about two weeks on the bike. And in these we’d do the Pyrenees and we do the the mountains in the Alps and things like that. And on the downhill section, I used to love going fast. I’d get into a tough position once on the bike, get up to about 80, 85 kilometres an hour on a regular basis. So I was very comfortable with it. I learned the lesson quite harshly in May 2017. I was just in the UK training for a bike event which I was doing with these guys, and I was going downhill near Reading or near Newbury area, just on a long downhill section, and my front tire blew out and I was going about 75, 76 kilometres an hour.

I hit the concrete really hard and I was in a pretty bad way. I sort of twisted my lower leg round the wrong way and ripped my shoulder out and it went back in. And then I sort of broke my hips in quite a few places. So it was a bit of an ambulance job and ten days in hospital and it was a really long recovery. I got back to skiing very briefly at the end of April, 2018. But I had six surgeries and I can still feel the bits from it. You know, my right knee probably won’t be the same. My left shoulder…I ended up having three surgeries on a tendon transplant on the supraspinatus, and that took a long time to get better.

But weirdly enough, it was the fear factor as well, because I was getting night frights because I had this moment where I hit the ground, I didn’t get knocked unconscious. And I remember trying to crawl, because I was on the main road and it was a junction and I was trying to crawl to the edge of the road and I was in a lot of pain. And bits like that gave me a lot of psychological issues. I ended up going to get therapy for it.

The EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing – basically, they’ve used it on people that suffered PTSD. You know, like in war situations. It’s quite a famous thing. But they’re using it a lot now for trying to get people to park or desensitise memories. And incredibly, I mean, I didn’t believe in it when this lady was doing the therapy with me. And it worked, it was absolutely fantastic. I got back on the bike.

Warren Smith

I ended up doing a cycling event in June 2018 with Dallaglio. We went from Evian in France across to Split in Croatia. I was kind of expecting it was going to kick in and bring back all the memories, and it really didn’t. And that in a weird way, got me back into skiing a lot quicker because there’s some very similar things that we get skiing…turning left and right at high speed and very protective of my knee because of the accident. So it was  really useful, I’d never used therapy before. But yes, I’m totally behind it and I thought it was a really massive benefit to get me back into life in general, because I lost a lot of sleep over that accident.

Felice So would you see yourself doing in the next few years?

Warren We started to do a project this season, a lot more ski touring we’re doing. So we’re opening that out in the Valais region. We’re looking a lot more now at the smaller resorts, the micro resorts. They’ve got these beautiful secret spots that no one commercially goes to, none of the big travel companies go there. People have got a lot more savvy – looking at websites, your website, for example, we get a lot of our clients that would use your website to go and find out about skiing in a much broader spectrum and build up their own knowledge base. They end up going in and doing much more specialised trips.

So we’re starting to branch out into the smaller resorts in our area, in our region. We like Val d’Anniviers, we think Val d’Anniviers – Grimentz – has got so much potential because it’s very understated for what it is. It’s still not too commercialised. We like Champoluc, another area just one over from Cervinia. And there’s a lot of rumours at the moment;  a lot of people are talking about, Champoluc being linked up to Cervinia.

Peter And it’s more than rumours. It’s definitely going to happen, but it might not be a couple of years yet.

Felice One of our favourite resorts, Champoluc.

Warren Smith

Champoluc at dusk. Photo: © F.Hardy

Warren I love it. That top restaurant, where we go before we go to the off-piste area, has the most fantastic lasagna. It’s eight euros, and a couple of euros for a glass of red wine.

Peter The prices are quite extraordinary and so different to a major resort like Zermatt, which it may be linked to one day.

Warren It’s a charming resort. And I know that to get the view, the Monte Rosa, I mean, it’s lovely to hear you guys say it’s more than just a rumour because that to me is…I would love to see that happen in a way. It would make it the biggest ski area in the world.

Peter It will be the biggest area in the world, because links from the whole way from the far end of Zermatt all the way through to Alagna. Yes, it’s a very long way.

Warren That’s a place that we feel passionate about because we’ve gone to Champoluc a couple of times,  we run trips there and ski coaching weeks there and our client base love it. Let’s say quite a majority of British people in that client base have been there and it’s taking them back. It feels like it’s taking them back to what it used to be like, rather than what a lot of the commercial resorts have got to….and they love it. One euro for coffee is just where it should be at. So we love that. And so we are looking around, we’re focusing on those type of resorts and adding some ski touring adventures into people’s weeks as well, to get away and stay in a few huts here and there.

Felice So if people want to find out about your courses, what’s your website called?

Warren Our website is just Warren Smith Ski Academy. And on that website you’ll be able to meet the team, see who we are and why people do ski with us. So our philosophies are explained there. And then it has an annual calendar on there as well. So people can look at it, see the venues we go to, look at the accommodation we use and generally speaking book a trip. And then when people come up with questions, which they often do, there’s a way to get to communicate and chat to our team. The team usually give you a call-back service as well.

Peter Well, here you are in Verbier and I expect you been skiing today, have you?

Warren I have, yes. No, it’s been fantastic. I mean, it’s a very strange climate at the moment. We’ve had a very odd season, lots of snowfall, very strange snow packs and not the most stable of snow packs. We’ve had to play very carefully, not go into areas that are too much risk. The last week and a lot of Föhn blowing up from the Sahara. So that’s been very it’s very strange. Today I was up there and it was it was roasting, it was like the middle of April. But I wasn’t complaining, I was quite enjoying it, actually.

Peter Well, I have to say, in Winchester, in Britain, where we live, there’s not been a lot of skiing this winter.

Warren Oh, well, we’re looking forward to seeing you guys in Verbier again.

Peter We’re looking forward to coming back.

Felice Well, yes, we’re looking forward to skiing.

Warren We’re overdue some powder turns together, that is for sure.

Peter Warren, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show today. And we wish you the very best of luck in the future with the Ski Academy and with your cycling and everything else.

Warren It’s been lovely chatting to you guys. Looking forward to seeing you guys soon, in the flesh. I won’t be long, hopefully.

Felice That’s all for now. If you’ve enjoyed the show, please share this episode with at least one other person! Do also subscribe on Spotifyi-Tunes or any of the many podcast providers – where you can give us a rating. You can subscribe on SpotifyApple Podcasts or any of the many podcast platforms. You can also find us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. We’d love you to sign up for our regular emails to peter@actionpackedtravel.com.

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Also see our posts on Dan Egan, Extreme Skiing Pioneer and Verbier chalet operator and explorer, Tom Avery.