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The Oratory Ski Team at The Canada Cup 2019 

The Canada Cup is an event that was originally created by Harrow and Eton as a Pre-season Training Camp in the Canadian Rocky Mountain town of Jasper. It has grown on an invitation only event since then. Last year it celebrated its centenary with over 300 students from 12 schools attending the event over a two-week period. Having received our invitation in 2019, the formation of the first ever snow sports team in our 160 year history was initiated. 

The 5 excited team members were keen to develop their skiing and boarding, the opportunity to race and the chance to become a qualified Snowsports Instructor in the 12 day trip. The team chose to go out in real style with their own custom winter jackets. With forecast temperatures of -20 during the day, every warm piece of kit was going to be required. 

As the team set out on their 9 hour flight, The Rockies had just received snowfall totalling 150cm across the entire Marmot Basin area that would be home for the next 12 days. To be greeted by miles of snow covered roads and acres of pine forests clad in white was an incredible sight. We arrived in the evening after our flawless transfer from Calgary airport to our hotel ‘the Lobstick Lodge’. The following morning, jet lag was overcome by an almost tangible wave of excitement in the team. Any resemblance of apathetic teenage boys, a distant memory. 

The team embarked on their first day of skiing on Canadian snow. After some group setting, the well-informed and engaging expert instructors set to work honing and developing our teams skiing and boarding ability. The Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance use The Canada Cup as an opportunity to develop their level 3 and 4 ski instructors from all over The Rockies, so the boys had the best instruction possible. 

After a day of hard skiing the team returned in good spirits awaiting their much needed food and some après ski activities, which included Lake Ice Skating, Curling, Tobogganing, the cinema and a pizza night. The first night’s ice skating was a first for all. To be able to ice skate by fire light on a frozen lake that was over 1000m in diameter was an incredible experience.

After the second day, the signs of fatigue began to revel themselves from behind the ever-present thick veneer of excitement. They exhausted themselves with Tobogganing, with Sam becoming overall winner of the first Oratory Tobogganing Championships. With the prospect of the first day of racing and the start of the instructors’ courses beginning the following day, the third day called for rest and relaxation in the form of the hotel’s sauna and jacuzzi. 

The team rose on the fourth day to tackle the challenges that lay ahead of them in the form of racing against 160 other students for Theo and embarking upon the three day examination that would allow Sam, Archie, Nathan and Luke to become The Oratory’s first ever Ski and Board Instructors. 

The Instructors were faced with the challenge of having to teach other teachers from other schools that included the likes of Eton, Harrow, Dulwich and Westminster Schools. This was no easy feat. However, it was such a pleasure to see how The Oratory boys excelled themselves with everyone gaining top marks in the teaching element of the course despite the initial nerves that might have been present. They have all come out the other side of the course, stronger and more independent. Infact it was even noted by the boys’ parents how they “returned home with more maturity, compassion and understanding”. Furthermore, parents felt that the instructors’ course enabled their sons to “hone their skills as a skier whilst socialising and developing friendships with other boys from around the country”. 

While the 4 boys began their Instructor Training, Theo took on the 160 other schools as the only one man team from The Oratory. If he was nervous, it was hidden under an excitement and enthusiasm that only increased with every race. He began with the Dual Slalom where he was mixed into a team with many other schools. His team made it to the semi-final, beating many others from larger, more established schools such as Dulwich and Harrow, who both took over 30 and 40 boys respectively. Theo then proceeded to race in the Slalom and Grand Slalom over the next two days. Each event had two runs in which the courses were changed to present a variety of challenges to the racers.

Theo dealt incredibly maturely with all challenges over the two days, giving his all to each event. Despite not initially enjoying Slalom, he came away enjoying this element more than his favoured Grand Slalom event. His approach and skill gained him 12th place out of 160 who completed both runs in all events. It was incredible to see someone of only 14 years old from a school who has never attempted ski racing, beating the likes of Wellington, Eton and Harrow. Who knows what could lie ahead for Theo, especially if others join him on next year’s team.

The highlight of the final night’s après ski was without a doubt the Curling. The initially cautious team took the challenge of learning a new sport that presented a lot more enjoyment than expected.  This was followed by the opportunity to experience the live excitement of an Ice Hockey match.

As the teams from all schools taking part in the Canada Cup neared the end of their time in Jasper, we gathered for the entertaining final Gala dinner at the Japer Park Lodge (once visited by The Queen and home to the world’s largest Gingerbread House). Despite being just out of the medal spots, Theo was 4th overall in his age category and The Oratory returned home with 4 qualified ski and board instructors. No other school had proportionally such success.

We are already recruiting for the 2020 Team. If you are interested in becoming a ski instructor or racing against some of the best schools in the country, please contact Mr Mills on