Ski spotlight: Sarah Tijou, ski instructor

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Travel journalist and ski instructor, Sarah Tijou, talks life on the slopes

Sarah Tijou
Sarah Tijou

Why do you love to ski?
Skiing has been in my blood from a very young age. I was encouraged by my Father who I now ski circles around! As a red head, summer holidays were never my forte, I always preferred being out in the snow and the fresh, albeit cold, air. Skiing is a thrill like no other: nothing beats the adrenaline of rushing down a mountain through trees and knee-deep powder under the sun and returning home with severe goggle burns! I feel so lucky to have the best job in the world: looking over the peaks – welcome to my office! There is always a story to tell, new skills to master and I love sharing my passion with as many as people as possible!

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Where did you last ski?
In Borovets, Bulgaria. It was a fantastic long-weekend with my two  of my best friends, to mark my birthday in December. The resort is weird and wonderful – a world away from your generic, tourist-packed Alps- experience – and I can see this quirky retreat becoming increasingly popular in future seasons. Unfortunately there was very little snow as the slopes are not especially high, so only one run was open! However it was the resort’s best run, right at the top of the mountains after a 20 minute gondola ride, which was perfect for my beginner companions. We also managed to soak up the sun rays over a pint in the alpine restaurants.

Do you know which ski destinations you will be heading to in 2015?
Having been to Austria and Bulgaria this season, I think one more cheeky escape is in order! I am excited to be joining my Father and  sister in Morzine (France) at the end of March. This is my Dad’s favourite resort and as a man of routine, he returns here without fail every year. It is a lovely resort, the first I came to as a child, and it is perfect for families, beginners, and non-skiiers, like my Mum, who can enjoy soaking up the atmosphere. Although it is the busiest resort I have been to, it is cosy and familiar and the food stops on the slopes serve the best  cheese panini I have ever eaten!

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Of all the ski destinations you’ve experienced, which was your favourite and why?
I have to say Sunshine Village in Canada. I lived out there for three months when I was 19 and working on my ski instructor qualifications and truly there is no place like it. You become overwhelmed by the vastness and beauty, if you have been used to European destinations. The mountains are all yours to conquer and there are no chair-lift queues! The peaks are incredible: you can ski all day long and still want more. My favourite run is called ‘Wildside’ –  a double black diamond run dropping from the cliffs of ‘Goatside’. When it’s a powder-day, you can float all the way down and the rush is addictive. So addictive I couldn’t help skiing it at the end of the season uttering those famous three words “Just once more!” I will tell you it is not a run for spring, there is no floating on ice and rock, just falling… hard!

Which ski destination do you wish to travel to, but haven’t yet been?
I have always dreamt of completing a season in Japan. Most people are surprised by this but Japan is known to have some of the greatest powder in the world and has always been on my bucket-list. I would love to try something new, and I imagine it is nothing like the Alps. As a keen traveller, I am always excited to discover unusual places.

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How do you plan your ski trip?
This varies every time. I am lucky to be invited by friends and fellow journalists, and without a second thought, I always jump at the opportunity! If I am planning a trip, usually I only need to think back to previous suggestions and recommendations by others to decide where I go. It is far too dangerous for me to look into this too deeply as I will end up reading article after article for days on end. It is too easy to get absorbed in all the beautiful places available to us. Of course, I must always check out snow levels, runs, food, and night life too. If all boxes are ticked, off I go…

How often do you go skiing?
Every week. I am lucky to have a part-time job as a ski instructor at a local outdoor ski centre. I love it, it is such a great escape from the 9-5, although it can get a little frustrating in the sense that it doesn’t stand up-to being out on the real mountains! I love teaching and sharing my passion for skiing. Teaching aside,  I hit the slopes every season even if it’s only for one week.

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Who do you ski with?
I ski with various people because the beauty of skiing is that it is very sociable: lots of laughs and memories come from a day out on the slopes, particularly with family and friends. I also enjoy the solidarity skiing can provide – becoming ‘one’ with the mountain, when I step things up off-piste, alone, ripping up the runs.

Thanks Sarah! The qualified ski instructor and journo writes for a number of  lifestyle publications. When she isn’t skiing or writing, Sarah can be found riding – she is also an equestrian 

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