Learn to Ski with the Expert: Meet Eric Woolley

When learning any new skill, the benefits of a having great teacher cannot be underestimated. Eric Woolley, a Snowsport England Coach/Tutor, uses his vast experience to lead many of our cross-country trips that combine classic and skate cross-country skiing techniques.

Eric and a client Eric and a client

We interviewed the man himself to find out what brings him back year after year to these snowy slopes.

Why do you love leading?

Several reasons really. Firstly, I get a good winter holiday and secondly I like passing the skills that I’ve learnt onto others and offering them a great holiday. Finally, I just love winter!

What’s best about being surrounded by snow? 

Do you know the Ladin flag in Italy - green for trees, white for snow and blue for the sky? That is exactly why I love being surrounded by winter scenery. You feel cheerful when you wake up and see the incredible royal blue sky against the white snow. No British fog – just beautiful and bright - the perfect scenery to make you feel more alive.

Skiing towards fell in Sweden Skiing towards fell in Sweden

What’s your favourite time of day? 

About 11am when the sun has come up and there’s some warmth but still fantastic snow. The snow softens slightly and becomes more forgiving than the morning crunch which can slow you down.

What’s the best thing about leading first-timers? 

Taking away all of their apprehensions and seeing them relax. Until lunchtime on the first day, you’re leading 12 individuals but by the end of the week you have a group! Seeing them achieve what they thought was impossible is wonderful to see. They all have different reasons for coming on a ski holiday, some for fitness, some for leisure and others for the gluhwein (mulled wine)! So it’s great to see the group form at the end of the week despite their different motives for joining in the first place.

Cross-country skiers, High Tatras, Slovakia Cross-country skiers

What keeps your job interesting? 

By not doing the same thing every week, so changing from skate to classic style and then on to racing is ideal. Thanks to the variety of venues where I can teach and being able to coach both types of skiing keeps me fresh.

How long have you been leading for?

I just figured this out actually. I started in 1983 on a Konig Ski Race, so by next year I would have been leading for 30 years! It was a great trip the first time, and I still love leading it today.

Seefeld, Austria Seefeld, Austria

What makes your destinations so special? 

The destinations I lead in are arguably the best three cross-country skiing destinations in Europe; Dobbiaco and Versciaco in Italy, and Seefeld in Austria. The variety of skiing in each area and the total ambience is conducive to having a great skiing holiday. Dobbiaco for example is one of the best snow holding areas as they make a lot of manmade snow, so even if when conditions are poor there is still enough loipe to ski along. Plus, there's a good variety of skiing available and lovely coffee stops along the way.

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