Words from ski instructors in Les Rousses, Chalmazel and Les 2 Alpes

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The 17,000 ski instructors from 223 ski schools in the French mountains have been living to the rhythm of government decisions for a year.

After a winter in 2020 that ended abruptly in March last year with the first delivery, these mountain professionals now fear the announcement of a possible third delivery that would prevent travel while their activity almost comes to a standstill.

Left Joseph Clot. Above right Jessica Pelisson and Anne-Flore Rey (below right). DR pictures

Lots of organization ... for nothing

In the ESF, the winter season was prepared in advance. Very early on, the mountain anticipated health standards. Then the ski lifts close late (and definitely?). The intervention deprives most of the alpine skiers on the slopes and the instructors of a 'normal' activity for the season.

This winter, Joseph Clot started his 22nd season as a ski instructor at ESF Les Rousses in the Jura. Since this year he has even been one of the technical directors.

“Everything we imagined is falling apart. We have done a lot of organizational work to welcome customers according to hygiene measures. We have invested in cleaning kits for biathlon rifles, for example masks, gel. We have set up a Covid cell. We spend our time adjusting schedules. We call customers back. We have done and are still doing everything we can to get started. We have a great winter and are spectators behind the glass. Were a bit like a zoo ... We wonder if we can go out today? '.

And for him the lack of understanding is still elsewhere: “What shocks us in this situation is the lack of coherence. For example, children can get on the school bus to go to school. But for skiing there is one child per bench ... We allow professional football, but not skiing. Two months with no pay for some footballers is fine. When youre making $ 30,000 a year in fees, supporting your family and paying your bills isnt the same! '.

Photo DR

We are a family. We want to stay positive, but ...

Joseph Clot, cross-country skiing instructor, ESF Les Rousses (Jura)

At Les 2 Alpes, 28-year-old Jessica Pelisson confirms: “We have all waited. We all hoped. We planned to do our winter from January 20th. Then from the school holidays in February. But now we know its dead. '

The same story applies to the small family resort in the middle of the mountains of Chalmazel (Loire). With the regret of not having a winter here that could have happened normally. “At home in our snow stadium, we didnt have the risk of big après-ski evenings! And then I have my 20 liters of ready-to-use gel, the plexiglass, the wipes, the instruction stickers. “Ironically, Anne-Flore Rey, director of this little ESF, has been an instructor for 40 years, who also redesigns the almost daily routine of his team.

At Christmas, the ESF des Rousses carried out a quarter of its usual activities. In the Nordic region, 776 hours of instruction were given, compared to 950 hours. Photo progress / Laurent MERAT

'The Nordic countries bring more than the Alps, that is unknown.'

The current situation is extraordinary for these three monitors.

In Chalmazel (Loire), observers blame recent government decisions. Anne-Flore Rey usually works with a dozen alpine instructors. “There are only four of us with two reinforcements who only come on weekends. At Christmas we shot for a week with the conveyor belt and our Piou-Piou room and since then only on Wednesdays and Saturdays to Sundays. It is not much'.

The team knows the difficult winters without snow, ”but that has nothing to do with it! We are there and nothing happens. For everyone, morale is starting to stall. When were locked up, its over for us, we close the shop. We wont have any other choice, ”Anne-Flore Rey worries.

Photo DR

I am sure I will not work this winter. It is difficult

Jessica Pelisson, alpine ski instructor Les 2 Alpes (Isère)

Jessica Pelisson, who was in charge of a ski business in Lyon for a long time, decided last spring to leave everything to settle closer to her Les 2 Alpes resort. She has been teaching there independently every winter for ten years. With the idea of ​​living her passion as closely as possible, she moved and prepared for a full season. But nothing went as planned. 'I havent worked. No time since the beginning of winter'.

This is the principle of the ESF. The work is divided among the first permanent and then the “seasonal” instructors in order of seniority.

Jessica Pelisson is 28 years old. Its not a priority. “It is difficult for the youngest, of course, but in reality it is difficult for all trainers. Even the permanent employees dont work their hours. “In Les 2 Alpes, as elsewhere, the only lessons for beginners or in kindergarten are far from giving work to the approximately 200 teachers in the resort. Very far.

“We manage to work well in Nordic, but its completely different for the Alps,” recognizes Joseph Clot. For the ESF des Rousses, the Alpine region accounts for 65{7d3485657e94c2a51293ca186d4450b2f27c317aa7ee3509dac6c8bbf5461118} of sales in February. “In the end its unheard of. This will be the first time the Nordic countries bring in more than the Alps, but we are far from reaching volume. '

Photo progress / Jérôme DELABY

We do not have the profile of the restricted, we have an external profession, an independent status that we have chosen

Anne-Flore Rey, alpine ski instructor Chalmazel (Loire)

And everyone is concerned about the massive cancellations for the February vacation. The ESF has opted for a full reimbursement of the lessons not taken. For any structure, accounting becomes dangerous.

In Chalmazel, the trainers are concerned about their access to the Solidarity Fund because the reference winter last year was bad. Photo progress / Claude ESSERTEL

The solidarity fund, a small consolation

Individual ski instructors can access the solidarity fund with an option right to offset the loss of sales of up to € 10,000 or 20{7d3485657e94c2a51293ca186d4450b2f27c317aa7ee3509dac6c8bbf5461118} of their sales in the same period of 2019.

The three monitors agree that it is a lesser evil. You got help. But everyone would have preferred to work. “The information was passed on by the National Union of French Ski Instructors (SNMSF). We agree, we help each other. For some it is more difficult than for others ”, analyzes Joseph Clot, who also reduces the income from his summer activities as a mountain bike / climbing instructor in order to make ends meet.

Some ski instructors also work in the construction, retail or hotel sectors, all of which are affected by the pandemic.

Its also complicated in Anne-Flore Reys team in Chalmazel because last years income was poor. 'If we start indexing this winter, it wont be difficult last winter,' complains the man who had guest rooms and an equestrian reception for a long time. “I take care of the farm with my husband. We have two instructors on the team who only moved here two years ago when they arrived from La Plagne. They have also opened guest houses but they are struggling to get started. Its really difficult '.

A few days before the February holidays, the 𝗲𝘀𝗳 is launching a multi-channel communication campaign to promote the activities that our trainers can continue to offer across France. # FaisSkiTePlait #montagne #skiing pic.twitter.com/pwF5oOXaYJ

- 𝗲𝘀𝗳 (@esf_officiel) February 5, 2021

What about the next year?

According to the National Association of French Ski Instructors (SNMSF), around 2,000 ski instructors have not returned this winter compared to the previous year. Surely many of them preferred the assurance of another full-time job. What will happen to another badly paid winter in 2022?

“Next year, of course, we risk losing instructors who will do something different. In the building, the bosses pay all year round. It is safer. Today we cannot guarantee our trainers anything. I understand they choose a CDI. The reality is that it is becoming difficult to recruit seasonal workers. But we should also be better able to monitor, defend and pay for them, ”says Joseph Clot.

Jessica Pelisson, she knows that she has yet to change her professional direction. “If Im not working this winter, Ill have to look for paid full-time work. My job as a trainer is very important to me. I decided to live at the resort all year round but the Covid is forcing me to have a different professional perspective. '

Jessica originally comes from Les 2 Alpes like her parents and grandparents and is a 'mountain girl' who, like so many others, now has to decide to work on the plain. She hopes to be able to work independently on the slopes during the school holidays in winter. With his red jumpsuit.