Get to know Erna Low | John Ward
At Erna Low we're proud of our friendly and knowledgeable team of ski and snowboard enthusiasts, so want to introduce them to you in our series of ‘Meet the Team’ interviews. Here, Technical Director John Ward describes his ideal snowboarding holiday and tells us which of the 50 resorts he’s visited are his favourites.
Are you a ski or snowboard person - why?
Although I have tried skiing, I’m definitely a snowboarder. Having said that, I’m happy to spend time with anyone that enjoys and respects the mountains, regardless of what they’ve got on their feet.
What made you want to get into snowboarding and what has been your greatest achievement since?
A friend of mine was volunteering at the Sheffield Ski Village and asked me to have some snowboard lessons with him. I ended up working there for 5 years on ski patrol and as a snowboard instructor and some of my best friends to this day are people I met at the Ski Village. My greatest achievement would probably be managing to survive 5 years of riding dry slope without breaking a bone!
Describe the first time you went skiing/snowboarding...
I took lessons at the Sheffield Ski Village, where the equipment at the time consisted of ski boots and soft bindings with the high backs removed. My first time riding on real snow (other than hiking local fields) was a weekend in Glenshee, where we were spoiled with clear blue skies and fresh powder, rather than the usual 70 mph winds and sideways snow.
Where is your favourite place to snowboard and why?
In Europe, it would have to be the Portes du Soleil. I think Morzine is a lovely town with a nice relaxed feel and plenty to do, while the ski area offers something for everyone, from wide open beginner slopes to excellent freestyle terrain.
What is the best snowboarding advice you have ever been given?
Never say “just one more run”. I’m not a superstitious person, but this is just tempting fate and I’ve seen too many people take themselves out on their last run!
When is your favourite time of year to go snowboarding and why?
I usually head out in late March. Late season snow has been great over the last few seasons and it’s nice to be able to relax with a beer in the sun after a day on the slopes.
Where in the world have you snowboarded?
Too many to list here… At the time of writing, I’ve ridden at over forty ski resorts and visited another fifteen or so. The most obscure is probably Tiffindel, which is in the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa, while the one that I’ll always think of as home is Keystone in Colorado, where I was lucky enough to spend 3 winter seasons. With all the resorts I’ve visited, I have to say I’ve still never had the opportunity to ride in Austria and would love to visit the Zell-am-See / Kaprun region.
Where is the best place you have stayed whilst snowboarding?
The W Hotel in Verbier is a beautiful, contemporary hotel with amazing rooms (and I’m obviously not alone in my opinion as it picked up the award for the World’s Best Ski Hotel at the 2016 World Ski Awards). If you’re talking location, it doesn’t get much better than the Tahoe Lakeshore Lodge in Heavenly. It may not be ski-in/ski-out, but the uninterrupted views across Lake Tahoe at sunset are nothing short of breath-taking.
If you could plan your perfect ski/snowboard holiday, what would it involve?
To me, the perfect ski holiday isn’t about 5* luxury with Champagne on tap (although that’s always a bonus!) – it’s all about enjoying the mountains with your friends. One of my best days riding and one that always sticks in my mind was at Tamworth Snowdome of all places with a friend from the Ski Village and it was just one of those days where everything clicks. If money was not a concern, it would have to be cat-skiing at Island Lake Lodge in BC, Dunton Hot Springs near Telluride, or a trip to Japan to sample their legendary powder.
What makes you enjoy your job at Erna Low?
I love working for a company that has so much history behind it. The fact that our founder was fundamental in shaping the ‘ski holiday’ into what it is today gives me a sense of pride. Above all though I love working in an industry I’m passionate about, with like-minded people, and getting to share that passion with our clients to ensure they have the best possible holiday experience.
If you're planning a ski holiday contact the Erna Low Team on 0207 584 2841- our expert team have the experience to help you plan and book the best ski holiday to suit your needs and budget.