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March 2, 2016

Student Snowsports – What a bunch of nutters!

Let me start out by saying I have no idea where I’m going with this blog, I’m just going to roll with it and see where it takes me.

So once again winter rolls round and once again students flock en mass to the French alps. It’s the annual migration on the college social calendar that raises the hairs on back of health and safety officer’s necks and it’s where the social norm is to wear as fewer clothes as possible, as often as possible. These holidays of organised chaos are run by our travel partner, Wasteland Ski. They have over 20 years of experience doing this sort of thing and there’s pretty much nothing they haven’t seen before. I wanted to write a short piece about my experience in student snowsports and WL over the years.

Let me go back to where it started for Wasteland and I, back to where it began.

 

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Yes thats me in the photo, back when I could ride and had less cares about broken bones.

I first came across WL back when I was a wee lil’ bairn, aka a fresher, and I was trawling Facebook in my spare time wishing I was back on my ski season, bumbing around on the slopes, working in the bars and living the life of pure liberty. I had heard the stories of this crazy fantasy week where all the universities go to one resort and compete in ski competitions and drinking challenges against each other. Where text books, Red Bull and lecture halls are swapped for french stick, pesch and wide open pistes, and the most commonly heard phrase is first lifts, last orders, or last orders, first lift. That in its self is an riddle, its like what came first, the chicken or the egg? The time difference between the last order and the first lift is usually short than the average time it takes to have a number two, (hair cut) so I personally think you can say either way but some would disagree.

Anyway, I digress. On Facebook I came across an event called BUSC Main event. The name it self was not enticing, it din’t strike me as a very ski orientated event but for the picture of a mountain in the background. I clicked on it out of pure boredom and low and behold, I found the fantasy. To my amazement, it was real, the description touted the best week of your life in an unknown Austrian ski resort with 2000 students all competing in alpine ski championships. Even better, I saw a post from someone called Alana saying they were looking for a couple of ‘Reps’ to help work the week in exchange for a hugely discounted ticket and two weeks in resorts (first week was for training). I messaged Alana straight away and explained my credentials as a seasoned ski bum and low and behold, I got the job. That fortnight in Saalbach Hinterglemm was an eye opening experience and one which paved the way into me becoming more involved in student snowsports but also getting into filming.

 

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Think they were the best rep jackets of the lot. I still get it out occasionally for park days.

Fast forward five years and after fifteen trips across nine different resorts, I had finished University having actually been working for WL longer than most of the head office who run the trips!

What most people do when they graduate university is they look for a job. Its what convention dictate, society teaches and economics forces us to do. However for me, I had worked, during my placement year, for one of the worlds largest FMCG companies who had an annual sales average of £27bn. I was rather done with working in a corporate environment and during my final two years of university had been running a mildly successful media business with a few friends. I had been encouraged by a few to maybe looking at doing this full time despite having a Masters in Chemistry and in summer 2015 I went into the business full time.

I had assumed that my dealings with the student world would be curtailed and I would need to start paying to go on ski holidays like every other person who wants to hold a normal job. However, to my surprise, I had a call from management at Wasteland asking me to come in for a chat. I duly obliged and visited their putney office in the heart of London for a sit down with the two blonde bombshells that keep the place running (Lou T and Lou W). They fleshed out their idea of bringing dgtl Concepts on as partners to the WL team to deal with all things media related and in an effort boost their online presence in the never ending strive for more bookings, better brand awareness and increased customer satisfaction. Of course I jumped at the opportunity to be back in the mountains with a familiar team but in a whole new guise.

 

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The 2015/16 Wasteland recruits photo. BIG team!

So we return to the beginning of this blog. Once again winter is in mid flow, the early season rush has finished and the easter trips will soon begin. Christmas was a blast, we had a lot of media bookings which was great but in its self presented us with its own set of challenges. How to get the same great product when you cant be in two places at the same time? Of course we had to recruit new staff.  The first week of the season saw four of our staff in resort covering VT Takeover and Rise Festival (in its second year of operation). Alex Winslade and Matt Greenwell were in Val Thorens covering the Takeover and the results were brilliant. Better than I could have hoped for and defiantly some talent for the future. For myself and Jack, we headed to Les Deux Alpes for Rise Festival. We were to link up with the festival media director Josh Cohen and the rest of the team to produce the official media for the event.

 

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Matt and Alex sporting our new staff jackets during the VT Takeover.

Through January we had three more university groups; Oxford Brooks, St Andrews and Manchester Met. For Oxford we pulled in the very talented Ross Silcocks from Entirety Creative and for St Andrews we sent out Alex Winslade again. I covered Manchester Met (MMUFS) which turned out to be a week I’ll probably never remember much of. The poor weather conditions meant that most people probably drank their weight in alcohol by the end of the week. The one good day of sunshine was amazing but it meant I had a lot of filming to do in a very short period of time. Walking to the ski lift with the normal ski apparel, boots and skis is bad enough, try adding a DJI Inspire Drone and a backpack with 2 cameras, 5 lenses and a Ronin-m stabiliser in it. I felt like an army cadet on judgement day. Chuck in a debilitating hang over and zero sleep, I was lucky to make it through the day alive.

 

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This pretty much sums up MMUFS.

Non the less, the week as a success and the end product was great. MMUFS made up for the reduced action on slope by providing me with a ton of off the slope video footage, usually involving varying degrees of nakedness. So much so that I actually made a second edit with all the clips which would never see the light of day on a promotional film for WL.

So Easter approaches and for the first time in five years I will be going back to where it began with BUSC Main event, albeit in its new guise, Above and Below. Im pretty stoked to be getting this chance and it holds a touch of nostalgia for me. We’ve also just invested the best part of £10,000 into a new Sony fs5 camera system and extras which will allow us to shoot at 240 frames per second (10x slomo to all you technophobes) at full HD. Im determined to make easter’s video into the best one I’ve ever filmed. On the other side of the lens will be the infamous Newcastle University Snowsport aka NUSCC.

See you on the other side… maybe.

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