These are difficult days for the ESF in the UK.
Both cases – which deal with different aspects of the law – are currently at different points in the appeal process, with the British parties having lost the initial arguments.
Anti-ESF demonstrators at London Show
This week the situation escalated as anti-ESF campaigners demonstrated outside the London Ski and Snowboard Show.
ESF out in force at London Ski & Snowboard Show
The ESF realise that they have work to do to restore their reputation.
This week twenty resorts sent senior representatives – at their own expense – to meet with British tour operators at a workshop organised by France Montagnes.
Simon Atkinson, Director of the ESF in La Rosiere stressed to Skipedia that ‘We realise the importance of the UK market’.
He used the workshop to introduce new ideas the ESF has created so tour operators can package them into new products for the UK market. These include ‘Women Only’ and ‘Kids Competition’ weeks, as well as an unlikely-sounding ‘Murder and Mystery Tour.’
Public unaware of the politics
Many of the British public are blissfully unaware of the politics going on behind the scenes.
At the London Ski and Snowboard Show this week, they were enjoying the biathlon challenge (skiing slalom on a ski trainer, then shooting a laser gun at targets) on the Frances Montagnes stand – a feature sponsored by the ESF.
However, awareness of the issues will have increased by those attending the show on Thursday, due to a small protest just outside the entrance to Earls Court 2.
For most of the day two men were politely handing out flyers that were emotive, but also contained accurate facts about the cases:
‘Say No to the ESF’
The clear message was that visitors to the show should ‘Say No! to the ESF’.
Organiser Danny Brennan told us that ‘It’s not fair that there’s bullying going on. The public needs to be made aware of the facts.’
We asked Brennan if he was working for anyone, but he described himself as simply ‘a regular skier’ who has had ‘friends who have been arrested.’
Brennan told us that he designed and paid for the flyers, posters and tshirts that he and his colleague were wearing himself. ‘It didn’t cost very much,’ he said.
Connection to Megeve?
Naturally, it’s hard not to be suspicious of such altruistic motives.
Brennan does not work in the industry as far as we are aware. He is in fact a martial artist and personal trainer, with some success at cage fighting.
He also revealed that he knows Alex Casey – one of the instructors arrested in Megeve as part of the Simon Butler case last winter.
‘I’m like a modern-day Batman’
Whether he has acted alone or not, he clearly has strong views on the ESF ‘stopping British business.
‘I’m like a modern-day Batman,’ Brennan told us.
The ESF need to make sure they don’t play the Joker.
STOP PRESS: On a related-note, it appears that BASI revoked Simon Butler’s licence at a meeting held at the London Ski Show last night:
Article by Iain Martin