Michael Vaughan invests in Hotel des Deux Domaines
Now that he has retired from professional cricket, Michael Vaughan, the former England test captain who was ranked best batsman in the world after the 2002/3 Ashes series is concentrating on improving his skiing. He has even bought a mountain pied-à-terre in the Paradiski resort of Belle Plagne, one of Esprit Ski’s main chalet complexes in the French Alps – to enable him and his wife Nichola and their children Archie and Tallula to pursue his hobby.
“I skied at school, usually in Val d’Isère” he says, “’but I wasn’t allowed to ski during my cricket career. Now there’s nothing to stop me except a slight problem with my knee, but considering I don’t have to worry about playing professional sport any more, a little bit of swelling doesn’t cause me any concern ! I always knew that as soon as I finished playing cricket, I would be making skiing a regular holiday. I just love it – I think it’s the best holiday. I love the beaches, I love being in the sun, but there is something about a ski holiday that makes you feel very fresh.
“Nichola, my wife loves skiing too, but she’d never been since I started playing professional cricket. So a couple of years ago, we started to take the kids to France with Esprit. We had a great trip to Belle Plagne. It relaxes you, and you’re only relaxed because the kids are having a good time. And they obviously get well looked after, and come out of the Kids’ Club at half four smiling – sometimes crying – because they don’t want to leave. I didn’t ski that first year – it was before the team went to New Zealand, so I did a bit of training. There’s a gym up in the village. I did some hill climbing too. There’s a nice walk, if you go down to the bottom of La Plagne, and up into the forest. And I tried a bit of cross-country skiing too, but I hated that, so I stopped. It was too hard, too difficult! The following year, we went to the same spot, same hotel with Esprit, same time. I shouldn’t have skied, because although I wasn’t in the England team any longer, I was still playing cricket for Yorkshire. But I sampled it one afternoon just to see if I could still do it. Basically it was down to the bottom at Belle Plagne and up again. I was very slow and very careful
“You kind of know that at 34, 35, you’re going to call it a day, and there’s going to be plenty of time after that. Nearly all the cricketers and rugby players go as soon as they’re finished. There are a lot of people I know who’ve finished their professional careers – Austin Healey, Lawrence Dallaglio, Graham Gooch, Graham Thorpe – who every winter just go straight onto the slopes. “I was very patient. The year after, I wasn’t in the team, so I thought, sod it! I know now I’ve got the rest of my life to spend one or two weeks every winter on the slopes, and hopefully improve. We’ll be skiing again this coming February.
“I’ve been amazed how quickly I’ve picked up my old technique. I’m okay. I can get down. I probably need a few private lessons to get myself going again. But I won’t be silly and go down the mad runs!
“Now that we have a place in Belle Plagne, we’ll obviously be skiing regularly, and probably go out once in the summer as well. My kids are outdoor mad, so mountain- biking and whitewater rafting, walks, tree climbing – I’ll be into that. And my little daughter is a good tree climber.” At 6ft 2ins, Vaughan shouldn’t have a problem reaching the lower branches himself. He might even become the best skier in Belle Plagne, but possibly it’s too late for him to be Number One in the world.
Copyright 2011 Ski+Board