Wayne Watson

Born - 1955 ; Location - Val d’Isère, France / Guildford, England ; Profession - Ski guide, ski teacher


Wayne Watson is an inspiring individual, inspiring to those who work with him and to those who ski with him...


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...either following his tracks in his off-piste groups or absorbing his knowledge in his ski technique classes. Who knows why this is? Maybe it's a self-belief that infuses everything he does. He has always had a perfectionist's dedication to his own skiing and when skiing with him you find that you want to make that extra effort to bring out the best of your own skiing.



He grew up in Canada in the idyllic surroundings of the Rocky Mountains and started skiing at the age of 8. Ten years later he began his professional involvement with skiing and it has been his livelihood ever since. He came to Val d'Isère in the early 80's with his Canadian ski teaching qualification and was taken on by TopSki, the first of what developed into an ever-growing number of independent ski schools. After several years of guiding and teaching with TopSki, and having gained his French "Moniteur de Ski" qualifications, he and several other instructors left TopSki to set up their own guiding outfit, Alpine Experience, which has been his professional home ever since. Alpine Experience is still going strong and now boasts 9 guides.


Away from the slopes, Wayne has always worked hard at his physical fitness and conditioning. As he says, keeping in shape allows him to ski up to his potential, and gives him the best chance of avoiding injury during a five and a half month skiing season that usually involves around 150 days of off-piste skiing and guiding. That might sound like a powder hound's wet dream, but by the end of the season it would take its toll on even the fittest athlete so keeping in shape is an essential aspect of his working life.


As part of his commitment to fitness, Wayne studied Pilates and has himself trained as a Pilates teacher, with Body Control Pilates. He now teaches Pilates during the summer and autumn in the Guildford region. Gym work was once part of his fitness regime, now he works out with weights at his home; he also adds to his fitness with off-road biking and recently completed a 55 km sponsored bike ride for one of his daughters school. He and the other Dads who did the ride meet regularly for 15-20 mile off-road bike rides. And Nordic Poling, which he does with his wife, also an avid skier in her own right, is another aspect of his staying in shape. All this means that he can sail through the demands of a long season, as well as working on his golf during the summer, where his goal is to get his handicap down to 10 or under.


His one major physical set-back came in 1999 when he had to have what he calls a "young man's hip replacement". However, he didn't waste the time he spent recovering, he used it to write the book he had been preparing - "Off PIste", a collection of skiing techniques, anecdotes and advice about safety in the mountains culled from his years of guiding.


More of the day's walking and skiing footage with Wayne's off-piste group


When Wayne was growing up in Canada, his big dream was to be a professional baseball player. He played Junior League, and then went on to a semi-pro career with the Calgary All Stars. He made a decision that baseball was unlikely to be his career givan that there are only about 750 professional baseball players in the world. We don't know how many professional skiers there are, but one thing we are sure about. Even if there were only 750, Wayne would certainly be amongst them.