After a vicious 24-hour snow storm on Sunday 22 November, causing general mayhem and blocking the main highway from Beijing to Chongli, Day 1 of the BASI Snowboard Level 1 in Duolomidi Ski Resort, Chongli, China got underway with blue skies, cold, cold air and crisp, fresh pistes virtually to ourselves.
A full course with ten students attending from all over China including: Shanghai, Chengdu and Beijing. For a couple of them just making day 1 was an epic. They had left Beijing and got stuck on the main Highway that was eventually closed to traffic sometime late Sunday afternoon. The national road (A road to you and me) was no better and 12 hours after leaving Beijing (it took us 3) they arrived in Chongli in the wee hours of Monday morning. BASI Trainer, Steph Wiehe, cut them some slack for being late on day 1!
Neither Steph nor I quite knew what to expect on Day 1. BASI Business Partners CASSI Snowsports Services Company run by Byron, Qian and Brad have been amazing hosts and I had spent the last six months talking them through how the courses are arranged, the pre requisites for students and the huge amount of detail that goes into getting a BASI Business Partnership set up. But add to that the language and cultural differences and the dynamics change completely.
We needn’t have worried. Qian and Byron had translated the Level 1 Workbooks and BASI Snowboard Manual into Mandarin and crisp copies of English and Chinese versions were produced for everyone (Steph chose English). Two of the students speak good English and with Byron acting as interpreter for Steph, the day was slower in tempo than an English run course and not the same amount of time was available to cover every topic to the same depth but all Day 1 content was covered and appeared to be understood and well received.
The concentration required by Steph and Byron to keep the flow and understanding going was nothing short of heroic. Steph has had to distil each piece of information he delivers into a concise and clear communication for Byron to interpret. That must take an amazing amount of concentration and can only really be maintained by someone who really knows their noodles. Byron fortunately has some prior knowledge of the BASI Snowboard Level 1 course. He acted as interpreter to Brad (first Chinese national to pass Snowboard Level 1 at Hemel with Lynden back in the spring of this year), he is a competent snowboarder himself and so having witnessed and heard a level 1 course delivered and then translating the work book and manual prior to the course start, he was the ideal candidate for the job. I have admiration for them both today watching what they achieved.
Skies were blue but the air temperature was cold and a stiff wind was blowing in from Inner Mongolia but all 10 students toughed out Day 1 – although there were a few nodding heads in the evening lecture!
Brad took some great photos and with the aid of Thuraya satellite #hotspot telecoms technology we managed to get some pictures posted to Facebook. I’ve been trying to establish a sat’ connection since I arrived in China and whilst I’m no technophobe, I was beginning to think that maybe I was out of my depth. Today was a different story and with a break in the weather it connected immediately. I set up mission control in the Duolomidi Base Station and with a spectacular view of the hill I even managed to get some emails and work done – the computer battery on my laptop ran out of steam just after lunch and that was my cue to go get my skis on!