David Allsop was introduced to skiing at the age of five on a slag heap in the Black Country. He spent the next 30 years scrupulously avoiding anything to do with sliding downhill. After trial careers in occupations as diverse as growing beansprouts and working as a barrister, he found his niche amid the peaks and troughs of Fleet Street journalism – adding ski-writing to his formidable portfolio of areas of professed expertise. He has since skied in more than 300 resorts – with a style that was once described by a member of the Compagnie des Guides as ‘comme une vache espagnole’ (like a Spanish cow), which he chooses to regard as a rare example of French irony. The Alliance des Moniteurs de Ski du Canada knows better; it allowed him to qualify as a ski instructor in 2004.