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Juan Catasus - Co-founder of Dropin-Snow

Local experts with a unique approach to ski lessons

Featured in: | Brian Kieran, Verbier Editor | Published
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Born in Barcelona and spending his childhood in the UK, Juan Catasus has worked all over the world as a ski instructor for the past 20 years. Now, he's using his experience to bring a fresh and innovative approach to ski lessons, from beginners to experts.

Dropin-Snow use innovative teaching methods designed to accelerate the speed you learn at. Based around the saying "quality not quantity" their lessons are designed to have you physically moving as much as possible. They firmly believe that you will progress much faster by getting the precise input and by learning from your sensations rather than standing around listening to long lectures on ski biomechanics. Combined with the use of some state of the art video analysis technology, you can actually see what you need to tweak or change in order to improve your technique.

Where it all started...

Tell us a little bit about your business, how it started out and where you're based.
Dropin-Snow is a ski school based in Verbier, although we also work in other resorts, like Zermatt. Our ski school is like any other, we like to teach from beginner to expert level. We are especially good with kids, and have a few of them compete in some of the Freeride Junior comps. We also like to teach in a fast and dynamic way, keeping our guests skiing as much as possible, based on the slogan “quality not quantity,” meaning that we teach a lot on sensations and good precise instructions, instead of having the student stopped in the middle of the mountain listening a boring lecture on ski biomechanics. We are also passionate photographers and like to include top quality photography on our ski lessons. Some people come back just for this. We also offer a unique filming and photography service. People think they have to be a pro to get pro looking shots, and off course, being a pro will help a lot, but you’d be surprised at the shots we can get from any skier. We offer the same thing in movie editing. We can get a great movie edit of your holidays, from a memory to take home, to a semi pro freeride movie to get that well deserved sponsor.

How long have you been doing this kind of work?
As a ski Instructor, almost 20 years. Yes, I started very young. In Dropin-Snow, I have been doing this for the last two seasons.

What makes this Verbier a special place to be for someone in your  profession?
I've been working in the past in great ski resorts, one of them being Whislter Blackcomb. However, I decided to plant my flag in Verbier mainly because of the freeride terrain. Maybe Whistler gets more snow (many times rain) but the steep gnarly easily accessible terrain you get in Verbier is like no other. If you top that with a snowy season, you can’t get any better in my opinion.

What are the best bits about your job?
Teaching people something you are passionate about is not a job. For me it’s a pleasure to teach and motivate people in the sport I love. I get almost the same pleasure teaching beginners to snowplough, as experts skiing down steep couloirs. The best part I would say is at the end of the day when you see how happy your clients are. Sometimes we (ski instructors) take a great day for granted, so I like to be on the same wavelength as my guests and share the epic moments of the day with them. Its great to be part of somebody’s best day ever.

And the worst bits?
I like to push myself when skiing, and I'm not 20 years old anymore. So, I guess the worst bit is having to recover from the injuries that skiing has to offer.

The future...

What is in store for the future with your business? Any exciting projects in the pipelines that you can share with us?
We would like to offer ski analytics on video. We have drones, so we can film people to get some awesome prospectives. Ski photography, and soon we will be offering ski safaris. Meaning that we will plan trips to other ski resorts around the world. We also have a couple of other projects up our sleeves.

What are your personal and professional goals for the future?
Personal goals would be like anyone, I guess. Continue on getting better at what I love to do. Keep a healthy lifestyle, keep fit, eat well, take care of the people important to me and, of course, be good to the planet. A professional goal is to develop Dropin-Bike, which is already on its way.

What's your favourite piste or off-piste area & top tip to go skiing?
Piste skiing has to be in the 4 Vallees. A great piste is Etherola or L’ours in the Thyon area. Official off piste areas, I would have to give that to Mt Gele and Gentianes to Tortin. Unofficial many! Steep couloirs of Attelas, everywhere around Mt Gele, the backside of Mt Fort, Col ferret, Brusson tree skiing; there are to many and all depend on conditions. Top tip to skiing? Make sure you ski like it’s a sport, and not just some type of vehicle that transports you around a mountain. Ski hard, and press on those skis.

Where would you send someone who was after that something special in resort to ski, to stay, eat or drink?
Something special depends on the person really. If he is up for a laugh with some friends, I would recommend to go racing down the sled runs in Savoleyres. It has to be one of the funniest things to do with good friends. But be careful, go with a helmet and get ready to crash. The other would be to go ski touring up to Cabane Brunet to an awesome dinner and stay the night there, waking up to an immaculate snowy landscape.

Best in resort...

Your personal favourite place for lunch or dinner?
My personal place to eat is the Offshore cafe. Quick and easy food and beer after an amazing day of skiing, it’s a classic for me. My favourite place on the mountain has to be either Marmot or Chezz Dani. For dinner; in my house. I also love to cook, it runs in my Spanish blood.

Where will we find the best coffee or hot chocolate?
Hot chocolate and coffee on freezing cold days are great anywhere.

What has been your best ever day in this resort?
I have had so many. One of the best days was also one of the worst. Skiing down Mont Rogneux with new skies, super pumped up, excellent untouched powder conditions and ripping down the slope at top speed. But then finishing up with a big sluff avalanche taking me out and injuring my knee for a few weeks. It's part of the game.

When not skiing...

Do you remember your first trip to this resort?
I do. What I remembered most is how naive I was, skiing around alone following other ski marks on the off-piste, taking me to super gnarly places that I only go now when accompanied with a friend.

What's your favourite thing to do in resort when not skiing or snowboarding?
Eating, drinking and resting!

What do you do in the summer?
I worked for 10 seasons in South America. I use to go to the southern winter, and repeat it all over again. There I was working for a ski school in Valle Nevado, Chile, and was lucky enough to be part of the heliski guide team. I did all my guide training in Alaska. I now (believe it or not) am a bit fed up of so many winters back-to-back and try to embrace the summers, working for a bike guiding tour company. We offer week trips with all the hosting, bike service and logistics included. When not on these trips I like to go running to the beach and get as much surfing as possible.

Which is your favourite shop in resort?
I would say No 1 Sports for the great guys that work there, and Mountain Air for the good boot fitting.

Where are we most likely to find you for après-ski?
I don’t remember! No, only joking. The classics I guess, Pub Mont Fort, Vinabagnes, Farinet, or Le Rouge.

Skiing or snowboarding?
I like both, but skiing is my sport. I'm at two very different levels. In Verbier however, it is more practical to be a skier because the nature of the mountain. Especially if you like to go and discover new areas and need to cross, hike and climb the mountain.

If someone was coming here for the first time, what would you suggest they absolutely must do or see in resort?
Book a lesson with Dropin-Snow!

More inspiration...

So, if you're looking for a unique ski lesson tailored to your needs in Verbier or the surrounding resorts, delivered by people who live in and love the mountains, then get in touch with Drop-In Snow.

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