Soham Grammarians: Winter Sports Trip, Austria, Easter 1972

From the Soham Grammarian Summer 1972 - If you can add anecdotes or photos about this trip, please contact the editor.

At ten minutes past two o'clock on Friday, March 25th, a coach drew up outside Victoria Station in London with twenty-seven pupils and three masters who were travelling to Salzburg. Here, with the help of the courier, the party boarded the train for Dover from where it travelled across the Channel to Ostend by boat. The remainder of the journey to Salzburg was by overnight trans-continental train through Belgium and West Germany, the time being passed more comfortably with the aid of a free gift of a couchette for each member of the party.

On arriving in Salzburg we were taken by coach to the newest Youth Hostel in Austria in the old quarter of the city. No duties were to be required of us and so we were free to enjoy our time in a hostel comparable to many hotels. After luncheon the party was taken on a walking tour around Salzburg visiting the ancient Bishops' Castle, the cathedral which has been completely restored after the war as recently as 1965, and the impressive Mirabell Palace, a tour which was continued the next day when the party visited St. Peter's Church where Mozart's sister, Nanerl, and Michael Haydn are buried, the Catacombs, the Franciscan church which affords an interesting juxtaposition of romanesque and gothic architecture, the Residenz and Mozart's birthplace.

The next four days were spent ski-ing under the skilful instruction of a husband and wife team, better known to us as Irene and Wilfred, who also knew where to find good snow late in the season and in a year when snow was generally sparse. It was quite amusing for us boys to hear Wilfred continually refer to a member of the staff as 'Duck' and to watch the endeavours of 'Caz' in applying wax to staff skis, a kind thought which Mr. Scott vowed to be unnecessary.

The more proficient skiers used the lifts from the start, well, apart from the occasions when Mr. Riley and Bethell parted company. From the summits those able skiers enjoyed gentle downhill runs over virgin snow in a woodland setting while the beginners 'crabbed' the foothills hourly. Further amusement was provided for all in turn when the advanced party attempted the ski jump in a variety of attitudes.

On the last day the instructors provided a slalom race of twelve gates. Four tenths of a second separated the first three skiers which included an 'outsider' according to Hambidge's 'book'. Some characters from 4A lightened the occasion with their comments as they sat down to negotiate a gate. The prize must go to either "Scuse me, please. I can't stop!" or "Hang on! I haven't finished yet." However seven pupils and two staff gained the half silver award and most others the bronze.

Evening entertainment included a film show given by the Warden featuring the city and province of Salzburg and local folk-lore, and an impromptu concert given by a group of Italian schoolboys. A few also persuaded some Japanese students to teach them some paper craft work, and in a few minutes were producing quite attractive results. The whole visit was even more interesting because few others spoke English fluently and consequently we were compelled to speak other languages when meeting teenagers from Belgium, India, Germany, Japan and France.

We should like to repeat our grateful thanks to Mr. Bozeat, Mr. Scott and Mr. Riley for an enjoyable and memorable visit.

P. Taylor, 4A

Note: In five visits involving 153 skiers not a single accident has been sustained other than a minor knee sprain. This suggests that with due care and concentration skiing can be quite safe and enjoyed by boys who are not outstanding in other sports.