Welcome to our ‘Behind the Scenes of St Martin’ series where we talk to some of the fantastic people who help make this charming Trois Vallées resort work. Here Helen Raemers, founder of The Alpine Club, chats to Olivier Bertrand, Owner of Twinners Ski Rental shop
OLIVIER – Ski Rental Shop Owner
How long have you been running Twinners in St Martin de Belleville?
We settled here in December 2000. At that time the shop was very small and there was just two of us working here. It is now much bigger and we have 7 members of staff
What training do you need to work in a ski hire shop?
We both already loved skiing and snowboarding and we did some very advanced training on the maintenance of equipment, machinery, software leasing and sales. We also learnt how to behave with customers in the shop and, finally, we perfected our English!
Do you get totally new equipment in each winter?
We renew about 40% of the skis and boots every year.
How many weeks do you get from a pair of rental skis each winter? Do they last all season?
A pair of skis is used for two seasons. Each pair is rented out about 6.5 weeks per year.
What are the best new skis for this winter and why?
The best ones will be wide skis for powder, if we have a lot of snow, and stiff ones if the snow is difficult and icy. The best compromise is not too wide, so you can ski well on the pistes and hold well on hard snow, but they need to be flexible so that you can ski off-piste. It’s all about all-mountain skiing!
Which are the most popular skis you rent out?
The most popular skis are the ones that help our clients have a great week’s skiing — not too hard or stiff so they don’t get tired, but effective for when they want to have fun and play off-piste a bit. For example, Head REV80s, Rossignol Pursuits, or Salomon BBRs.
What is the worst tale you have of someone damaging a pair of skis or a snowboard? Has anyone ever broken their skis or board?
We have many anecdotes but the most memorable one was a customer who broke a pair of skis after running them across rocks on the first day. He then stole the second pair, and on the last day we heard that he broke his leg. And he comes into the shop every year!
What skis do you ski on?
I ski on Volkl MANTRAs. They enable me to practise off-piste a lot, when conditions permit, using all the right safety equipment of course, including an ABS backpack, shovel, probe and avalanche transceiver.
Which are the favourites?
The SOUL 7 by Rossignol are the most popular: you can do everything and go anywhere very easily. They work for every type of skier, from beginner to advanced.
If you would like to get in touch with Olivier to hire a pair of skis, boots or a snowboard, or any avalanche safety equipment, contact him at Twinners in Saint Martin de Belleville on +33 4 79 00 68 45 or go to his website