What is it? We attended the Orange British Snowboard & Freestyle Ski Championships 2006, also known as the Orange BRITS. The biggest national snowsports event, it’s open to all ages and performance levels and gives unknown amateurs the chance to perform against Britain’s top professionals, current champions and GB Olympic hopefuls.

Where? Snowboarding and skiing, eating huge Bratwursts sans enfants!

Description: Laax in Switzerland, about two hours from Zurich.

Riders Palace and the Crap Bar had DJs and acts playing every evening. We only made it out to one of them, the Ugly Duckling, which was fun although the drinks were expensive.

Prices are around L25 per day excluding lunch (L35 including) from 9.30am – 4pm. The nursery staff were pleasant and friendly, although I had to use my German! They took one-year-old Betty out to sledge and get some sunny snow from time to time and seemed well-cared for. Ty, three and a half, went to ski school in the morning (same price as the nursery) then classes in the afternoons if he wasn’t too wiped out. The Swiss really know how to make champion skiers and snowboarders – they put their kids on planks as soon as they can walk and the whole child care and ski school provision was ideal.

Call us die-hard sports fan, but we went for the snow! Saying that, if you look far afield there are sure to be hot tubs and massages available. But this is hardly a relaxing, gentle, spa-type holiday…

Sun, snow and more snow!

…how to charter our own helicopter to carry all the blinking snowboards, boots and everything else we needed. Having to trundle all our baggage and babies to catch the bus, the train, and the aeroplane was certainly interesting! Hiring equipment could be the answer next time.

Local activities: Book early to get those cheaper flights, or better still, get in the car and drive. Also, wear lots of sunscreen – some people on the slopes looked rather leathery! Don’t worry if you get a goggle tan, we all had one despite attempts to slap the factor 50 on.

Wish we had known: Fly to Zurich on Swissair or BA, then get to the resort either by car or Swiss train transfer. Our entire trip cost L350 per person, including flights (kids under 16 travel by train free with their parents), apartment, competition entry and insurance licence, lift passes, ski school and nursery and even Heathrow parking (cheaper travel packages are available). Visit www.orangebrits.com for all event info, www.laax.ch for info about the resort, ski hire and lift passes, www.valsignina.ch to learn about apartments and http://www.swisstravelsystem.com/uk/index.php?partnerId= 18&dclp=adaf8f40e036bd1997efe93836cd49e8 for Swiss train transfers.

Our top tip: Tom, 14, says: ‘Laxx had everything a snowboarder could want, it was sunny, there was the most awesome pipe rail and kickers and the powder snow was perfect.’

Kids say: The average woman in Switzerland produces just one child. Maybe that’s why we didn’t see many other kids during our holiday, except on the nursery slopes and in the creche. With my seven children in tow, we were definitely freaks. All the more room for us, then! Our week in Switzerland rocked. We stayed close to the ski lifts, which meant we could get up the mountains and straight to the Orange BRITS competition area first thing every morning. The lifts and gondolas run smoothly and regularly and the sun was shining every day. All of us – including my husband Rav and myself – were in seventh heaven. There was great music on the sound system and the MC’s could be heard as we approached the area. Plus, the area was simply beautiful. Lift passes are pricey but there are good reductions for children under 12 and youths aged 12-17 years. We were able to snowboard all day and keep our eye on the competition, which was always exciting. All my kids were competing and there was a great friendly atmosphere. Everyone helps each other out and I knew if any of the kids were injured they were in safe hands. We’d finish on the slopes at around 3pm, collect the littlest ones from nursery and head home to get dinner ready. The others would return from snowboarding at around 6pm. The results and medals were dished out at the Orange BRITS ceremony daily at 8:30 in the evening, and afterwards we strolled just five minutes back to our apartments and tucked everyone up in bed. [HALFPIPES.jpg] This is one holiday where if you want your kids tuckered out and sleepy, you got it. Snowboarding and all that fresh air make for healthy, happy and very tired children. Over the week, their medal tally was an incredible 10: one gold, four silver and five bronze! Once they were happily snoozing Rav and I went out for a few drinks, if we had any energy left. We actually did this twice – yes, I want a medal too! Our accomodation was lovely. We stayed at the Val Signina apartments (L400 for a 4-5 bed apartment – see www.valsignina.ch).They were well-kept with books, playing cards and the obligatory television (Italian Tweenies and MTV were the favourites). The kitchen came equipped with everything but a kettle. Bring your own sheets, duvet covers and towels and you’ll save a tenner per person per week. The highlight of the week was celebrating our family’s one gold medal – and dancing our socks off in the Rider’s Palace to the headlining band, hip-hop trio Ugly Duckling, who were flown straight over from the US to kick off their European Tour. The low-point was when our ten-year-old was overcome by the crowd at the prize-giving proceedings and vomited down her front and all over her medal. Good thing there was lots of snow to clean her up… * Ruth Hamilton is a full-time mum to seven children who also works as a children’s party organiser and a deejay for corporate and private events.


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