Meet a Pisteur - Alban Martinod


AlbanMy host during my time with SAP was Alban Martinod.

Alban is a nationally recognised 12 year pisteur veteran who started young, riding shotgun in the cab with his father who was a pisteur. Dad is now Head of Operations for the snow grooming section of SAP.

October saw Alban in Stelvio in Italy, constructing the Ski-X course for the French national team to sharpen their skills, prior to the Winter Olympics in South Korea. March will see him in Megève, working on the Freestyle - Mogul and Skicross Skiing World Cup course prior to the final being held there that month.

Back in La Plagne, Alban completes regular piste grooming activity, but also has special responsibility for building the kickers, rails and other items in the snow park. He and a small team also build, maintain and improve the Funslope that runs below the Arpette chairlift. This is hugely popular with all ages, skiers and boards alike and is great to watch whilst on the long Arpette lift.

The tool he uses to do all this work is a super modern specialist Prinoth Bison X CAT. The bug-eyed cab has every comfort and affords a full 360 view of the piste. It’s all fly-by-wire. The left hand regulates the speed and movement of the tracks, whist the joy stick control in the right hand controls everything else. The nearby screen displays everything you need to know, and indeed, some things you never knew you needed to know! Think Playstation. A 250,000 Euro Playstation.

The CAT is special because the front and rear shovels can move through a full 90 degrees to vertical, enabling Alban to mound snow and to shape it to the desired profile. During the season the pisteurs spend time in each other’s cabs to share best practice and improve skills.

Whilst out on the mountain the pisteur often glimpses the wild life. Deer, hares, rabbits and chamois are all common, thought most recently a wolf was spotted at Bellecote having been recently reintroduced to the mountains.

You can tell Alban loves his job by how passionately he talks about it. He loves working close to where he was born, the solitude of working alone and the satisfaction of building the snow park and being part of a team delivering perfect pistes for 9am.

I didn’t catch him polishing his CAT – but it was way too shinny for him not to have a spray gun of Autoglym somewhere.

As a skier I have always had a healthy respect for the pisteurs; having seen what they do and the seriousness with which they undertake their tasks, it’s just got stronger.

My thanks to SAP and Alban for their time, hospitality and showing me around.

Monsieur Mogul


Monsieur Mogul – Our man in La Plagne

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author

alone and not those of Ice and Fire Ski and Snowboard Holidays