It’s not Sochi but Champéry for Team GB in the Ski Club of International Journalists championships in the Swiss Alps.
Pitted against 200 competitors from 30 other countries captain Gill Martin led the seven-strong team – Michael Prowse, deputy night news editor of The Times, Financial Times sub Janet Dillon, European financial writer Barry Moore, freelance writer and editor Rebecca Sharp, freelance broadsheet sub Sam Thomson, Lucie Emerson Aruta, nationals feature writer and regular contributor to West London Mum website – in pursuit of giant slalom glory and cross country trophies.
"We didn’t win any medals", says features journalist and travel writer Martin. "But SCIJ is as much about the joy of being in the mountains with journalists from as far afield as Andorra to America, Kazakhstan to Croatia, Israel to Italy, Russia to Romania.
"It’s tough beating the mountain countries in downhill, and even more challenging to match the Nordic nations on skinny cross country skis in an icy 5k track."
SCIJ is not just about skiing. Its history dates back to the Cold War when a Frenchman founded it in 1955 to bring together journalists from the East and West. It is about forging friendships, networking, sharing cultural experiences, debating hot topics of the day in politics, economics, the environment, sport.
At each international meeting members find stories to write up, some based on the discussions and lectures, and enjoy national culinary specialities: French oysters, Belgian chocolates, Russian caviar, Icelandic schnapps and English venison sausages.
"It’s a very social club, with much feasting, drinking and dancing thrown into the mix of skiing – in Africa we rode mules to the slopes in Morocco, in South America we interviewed Falklands veterans in Ushuaia. We've been to unlikely resorts from Turkey to Tuscany."