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Father and son bonding - Chris Moran, Verbier
Monday February 22, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

And where better to do it than on the ski slopes. Chris Moran heads to Verbier with his 6-year old son, Harry.

If there was a soundtrack to the trip I've just been on, it would have been Cat Steven's 'Father and Son' (you know the one, Ronan Keating murdered it).


Because I was out with my boy, Harry, and this is the trip that he really got skiing.

Not that it was anything to do with my advice. 

We've been out before to the snow, and I was nervous because I'd heard Verbier, Switzerland wasn't too good for younger kids.

Also, half term is notoriously busy.

So on paper it wasn't looking that great; but I'd had an invite from my old friend Ed Leigh (him off of the tele).

Ed is out in Switzerland for the winter with his wife Sian and their two kids Suki (9) and Oscar (7), so it did seem like the right time to catch up with the adults and to get the kids together.

They normally live in New Zealand, so it's been a while since we've all been together.

I see Ed on Ski Sunday and the odd time he drops by the UK, but we've not had a day on the hill since our days working together at Whitelines Snowboarding Magazine.

Verbier, SwitzerlandVerbier, Switzerland
















With kids in tow, I doubt we were about to have the same kind of debauched trip to the Alps of yore.  

Ed and Sian had chosen to base themselves in Verbier, partly because of its central location in the Alps, but also because the schools are great, and for Suki and Oscar, learning to speak French with other international kids is a definite plus.

It doesn't harm either that Verbier is clearly one of the best resorts in the world, with secret powder stashes for days, and some epic late-season sun-worshiping.

So I was stoked to get Harry out on skis with Ed.

On our first day, my partner Rachel, Sian, Ed and I took the kids up the Medran lift and lapped the pistes in a mass group.

Family fun in VerbierFamily fun in Verbier


















Suki and Oscar have naturally had more time on snow and are older than Harry, so were much better at the steeper slopes that you can't avoid in Verbier.

For total beginner kids, it'd be a bit of a nightmare, and I hoped Harry wouldn't stress out at some of the steeper red runs he had to negotiate.

Luckily, he was in brave mode, and Ed was an amazing teacher.

While Rach, Sian and I left to go and ride some epic powder in the trees (we tag teamed so we all got to ride some good snow), Ed graciously took Harry, Oscar and Suki on some secret forest runs (aka the Medran home run.

He showed Harry how to unlock himself from the permanent thigh-burning snow-plough that he and most kids adopt for their first few weeks on skis.

"Dad, dad I did some pallarel (sic) turns" he told me when we met up again. "Ed showed me you just have to skid!" 

Verbier, SwitzerlandVerbier, Switzerland
















Verbier, SwitzerlandVerbier, Switzerland
















Turns out, if you want to get kids to keep their feet together, you just have to encourage them to spray each other by doing the best 'feet-together' stop possible.

After that, parallel comes easy!  

Verbier, SwitzerlandVerbier, Switzerland
















Verbier, SwitzerlandVerbier, Switzerland
















The next day, our friends Johno Verity and Chris Kirkham arrived.

Johno is an ex-pro snowboarder who films on the Freeride World Tour, and Chris is a New Zealand-based filmer who spends much of the European winter in the Alps filming with the BBC for Ski Sunday.

We also met up with an old friend Rob Spears, who's a ski instructor out in Verbier, but Rob had broken his shoulder "showing off to some clients jumping off a cliff" as he confessed. 

Not that such a tale was going to stop Johno from doing his own grade-a showing off in front of the kids.

When we did seasons back in the 90s, Johno was known as Backflip John, and he's still got it in him.

Goading Ed into flipping off a side-piste-hit at the top of the Jumbo lift, Johno landed and rode away, while Ed crashed on the landing.

The kids were in awe.

"Did you see me land it?" asked Johno.

"Yes!" shouted all three.

"Did you see Ed crash?"

"Yes" they replied, laughing.

"Johno's the best" said my little boy Harry later, and I think the thrill of his trip was when Johno took him on the jump line and showed him how to launch off the super-cool beginner kicker line on the La Chaux funpark. 

The rest of the trip followed a similar vein.

We'd ride in a big group, meet for lunch but try and split off and tag team so some people rode with the kids and others got to hit the amazing off-piste that Verbier is known for.

Now Harry had brought some of his toys with him - and I had brought one of mine.

We shared the fun.

Father and son funFather and son fun















The Arc'teryx Voltaire as it's known, is a new ABS-style avalanche pack, designed to expand - at the pull of a rip-cord - to keep a skier or snowboarder above the snow if caught in a slide.

I managed to get a test pack, so I was keen to see what Chris, Johno and Ed thought of it, as they work with some of the best freeriders in the world.

It's also a new system, using a battery-operated fan instead of compressed air canisters.

"I can see why that's an advantage," said Ed. "A lot of airlines don't take the canisters, or you have to empty them, so having a battery that you can charge from a normal plug makes a lot of sense."

"And you can pull it without worrying about having to ride back down to the resort to get the canister re-filled like with the ABS system," said Chris.

"How many times does it inflate on one charge?" asked Johno.

We weren't sure, so pulled it several times.

I'd plugged the battery in the night before and we managed 5 pulls without it changing the battery power light, so we guessed it could do a lot.

The only thing that stopped us testing it to the end was the fact that it is about as loud as a 747 jet taking off when you pull it, so the kids had to put their fingers in their ears!

"Turn it off!!" said Harry.

But I guess it's not designed to be let off inside a chalet or a cafe.

As usual, the week went by way too quickly, but we have plans to head out to Easter for some more snow time.

I can't think of a better way to bond with your kids than a ski trip.

Every night Harry snuggled up and we talked about all the new experiences and cool stuff he'd seen (I'm not sure if you can book Johno out, but if you can, he's a great kids entertainer-slash-jester), and the new words he'd learned.

I also told him that his brain would work out all the stuff he couldn't do that day while he slept, and it seemed to work.

Every morning he'd wake up and then go out and try the trick or move he wanted to acheive and every day he'd say to me "wow, my brain worked out how to do it last night" and get it first go.

I tried not to 'teach' him anything in particular, as it's better if friends or actual ski instructors do that, but I made sure he knew how proud I was that he was enjoying himself.

We got back to the UK after a long drive and he woke up clutching the cow toy he's had since a baby and I asked him what his favourite bit of skiing was. "I like the bit where you have fun," he said.

Which according to him is "pretty much all of it."

Verbier, SwitzerlandVerbier, Switzerland
















For his season in Verbier Ed has thrown himself into making some of his own content, with a regular column explaining his antics in the Telegraph and also this quirkier-than-the-BBC podcast series he's making for Mpora.

Ed Leigh meets "Monsieur Poudreuse..."

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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