Sun, sand and sea - these are images that pop up in our heads when we think about Greece. But this beautiful and hospitable country also offers a lot for skiers and snowboarders, as Colin Biribauer, Anita Schwarzer and Stefan Wallner experienced in the Parnassos area. On their refreshing road trip, the instructors from the Snowsports Academy held courses in English - and experienced first-hand how badly good snow sports instructors are needed in Greece. Also from February 19th - March 1st 2024, a Snowsports Academy edcuation in Greece is on the agenda again.
When checking in at the airport, we already encounter a number of funny and questioning looks. "With winter sports luggage in the direction of Athens. Are you sure?” we are not only asked at the luggage counter. "Yeah, definitely. Ski and snowboard edcuation in Greece – in an area called Parnassos.” Finally, with a hesitant nod, we are wished a safe journey to a country that is much more popular for dignified summer holidays. But at least it's February and we're headed into one of the harshest winters in Greece in decades, as we'll see up close later.
At the customs in Athens we are also amazed as we march through with our lavish equipment. But everything is safe, so we move on to the car rental: "Winter tires? We don't have.” “But we ticked that off when we booked,” we explain. "That's right, that tick on the booking tool - that doesn't mean anything," we learn with a friendly ironic undertone. The search for snow chains also leads to nothing and is stopped after half an hour. So we set off with the summer tires in the direction of Arachova, where the center of the ski area is.
The Ischgl of Greece
Arachova is a beautiful place in the middle of the mountains of Greece, very close to the city of Delfi, known from the sagas. Several sports shops already suggest that winter sports are very important here. Arachova is something like the Ischgl of Greece: mostly well-off people, sophisticated hotels, noticeable luxury. Although it has to be said that the Parnassos ski area is another 30 kilometers away from Arachova.
However, there is still not a single snowflake in sight. We therefore decide to cover this last section with our rental car. But a few Greek locals say: "That's not possible, the conditions on the mountain are completely different. Come with us.” We let ourselves be persuaded and set off in a four-wheel drive car with winter tires. And in fact, from the last curve before the Parnassos car park at 1,600 meters above sea level, the depths of winter suddenly prevail. The mountain station of the area is at 2250 meters. We are very excited.
The total interest
The resort has 17 lifts and 36 kilometers of groomed slopes, plus some off-piste routes. The temperatures on the first day are an unbelievable minus 9 degrees Celsius. The snow conditions are a dream, it hasn't snowed as much in the last few decades as it has in recent weeks. There has been more snowfall here in the past few weeks than in Austria at the same time. The conditions for the practical training of future ski and snowboard instructors are therefore perfect.
The participants in the course are all from Greece, with the exception of one from the Ukraine. They're a bit nervous at first and waiting to see what's to come. But the ice broke quickly and we get to know them all as very open-minded people who are not only highly motivated during the practice sessions on the slopes. During the theory evenings, too, they prove to be extremely inquisitive and have a love for detail. In this way, effective practice days often end with wonderfully intensive and fully concentrated discussions long into the night. And all of that in English – we as trainers are really challenged!
The perfect rest
What is even more impressive about the participants: on the one hand, they are full of enthusiasm, on the other hand, they approach everything with an inner peace and serenity that is second to none. That it takes an hour and a half before we finally get the lift tickets - no stress. And you can also learn a lot from the hospitality and helpfulness in everyday life. This is not only true when there is a Greek holiday, but especially so. And on a day like that, it must smell of smoke and meat everywhere. The whole of Greece barbecues on a public holiday - and you are invited to every house. Just fantastic.
Our final dinner after 10 days of education, which flew by, is once again a real poem. At the hut there are, for example, "spinach golatschen" with sheep's cheese. And if we don't know what to do in the restaurant, someone always helps us with what to order. All in all, the people convey their culture to us in a very casual and authentic way, which is really a dream.
And the course result is also impressive. The Greek snow sports world now is a few ski and snowboard instructors richer. An experience during the course shows how important it is that there are more well-trained staff for the four ski schools in Parnassos. During video recordings of the snowboard group, a kamikaze skier suddenly comes flying with a two percent edge angle. Directly towards the camera. The only thing that helps is to jump to the side and take cover. Even on weekends, many ski as if they were on the slopes alone. So the new snow sports instructors certainly don't lack work. Good luck guys!
More information about training in Parnassos: