Last week's French Supreme Court ruling regarding the case against the Le Ski hosting service is a disappointing development in the ongoing issue of leading groups in French resorts, but the Ski Club of Great Britain is still dedicated to fighting for the valuable social skiing service it offers.
“Despite some of the headlines it’s unlikely that Brexit has too much to do with the ruling of a case which has been in the French courts for over 4 years. For the Ski Club it is also a different set of circumstances. Our Leaders are first and foremost volunteers who have, at their own expense, undertaken dedicated training and regular refresher courses. Our case is still in progress and we will keep up the fight. In the meantime, our 29,000 members can still enjoy the Leader service in many other countries, or take up our Instructor led guiding service in French resorts. We will continue to support British skiers wherever they choose to take their holidays”
Chief Executive, Ski Club of Great Britain
Ski Club Leaders are volunteer Club members who give up their free time to show others around the resorts. The Leaders have taken training in mountain safety, including avalanche awareness and rescue. The Leaders are also trained in first aid to the same level as ski patrollers.
Leaders are not paid for providing this service but are given accommodation, lift pass and some travel expenses. Tour operator hosting was usually run by staff members who were expected to provide the service as part of their employment.
In both cases there is no ski instruction taking place and guests must be of an adequate level to join the groups, the aim is to show skiers around the resort and to improve the whole in resort holiday experience. This is a service that most ski schools do not offer.
The Ski Club Leader program was put on hold in France after a Leader was stopped by police on the slopes of Val d’Isère in 2013. He was subsequently fined €10,000 with a further €5,000 in suspended sentence. The French ski school ESF who supported the prosecution were awarded €1 in symbolic damages.
The Ski Club of Great Britain Leader service is still available in other countries such as Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Andorra in Europe and in both Canada & the USA. In France the Club has subsidised an Instructor-led Guiding service with partners Evolution 2 and other ski schools. The Club has also introduced Facebook resort groups to encourage Club members to meet and organize social activities and to share news about the areas.