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Poster: A snowHead
Wed 11-04-18 8:10
Replies: 40
@Pasigal, if this kind of thing is of interest, both Vars and Montgenevre have sizeable natural half-pipes. Our kids love them, and both parents liked the proper pistes than run alongside so there's no necessity to go into the confounded things.
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Wed 11-04-18 7:54
Replies: 40
We've been to both Vars and Montgenevre. Both are really good for family trips though we chose them specifically to be too far south to be popular with the Parisian hordes, so potentially too far to drive. Vars was certainly noticeably cheaper than the big French resorts and is awash with snowparks. We let the kids (then 11 and 10) loose in Vars for the first time one afternoon and they were fine. It was off a lift that serves a snowpark one way and some more cruisy stuff the other, so we regularly regrouped at the bottom of the lift. By the end of this year's foray to Montgenevre (15 and 14) they pretty much abandoned us other than to get fed! FWIW I think common sense and natural navigation ability are more important than language skills. My eldest doesn't speak French but has a natural ability to know where she is on the piste map. My youngest has the navigational skills of a housebrick but has just enough common sense to stick with her sister when they are "unleashed".
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name.
Tue 20-03-18 11:25
Replies: 3
Overall - Fabulous family ski holiday in a favorite resort at a bargain price. Nice TR - it's always good to read this as the opening salvo!
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Mon 19-03-18 22:13
Replies: 173
It's a long time since I've done anything approaching partying whilst on hols, but the Café Face in Val D'Isere holds happy if slightly hazy memories. I think I recall very cheap beer immediately after getting there (5pm?) with a doubling of price every hour, with the price change heralded by the barman playing a rousing tune on his saxophone.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Thu 15-03-18 10:12
Replies: 8
Thanks for the report. We were there a month ago and it's nice to compare notes! Re the Hameau des Airelles, we booked direct and got a 6 berth apt for a family of 4 and it was fine. Good value for money - a fair bit cheaper than the Dolines and the Napoleon. We'd stayed there 3 years previously booking via Peak Retreats so knew what to expect (including a large mark-up vs booking direct, so we didn't bother with them again!) The check-in arrangements are fairly shonky so this year we packed so that we could easily dump the bags, change in the loos and go skiing on the Saturday afternoon (no extra cost on 6 day pass or ski hire). Talking of loos, in the basement of the lift station just below the Terrasse restaurant is a fine array of facilities, which maybe explains the lack of provision at the restaurant - there's not really much need.
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Tue 27-02-18 14:40
Replies: 11
Nice TR. We had a great trip to LT 7 years ago where we also went with Crystal to the Planibel apartments and reading this brought back a few memories. (Not as many as a Facebook reminder of a photo from there 7 years ago today - who were those midgets with me? They look a bit like my kids but they were soooooooo small!)
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Sun 25-02-18 0:01
Replies: 22
@bambionskiis, we had French zone A and Belgian holidays w/c 10th Feb and queues were minimal. I think that if you avoid Paris week you'll be ok. Our HT starts 23rd Feb next year which is Paris week so we're planning Obertaun!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Fri 23-02-18 15:46
Replies: 38
From Yorkshire we paid £250/pp for Sat-Sat flights including luggage. The sting in the tail was the £700 rtn private transfers between GVA and Tignes. Whichever way you look at it, driving is most flexible and cheapest. We paid circa £1600 for Manchester->Turin but got away with a £220 fee for a "group private transfer" (a combination of minibuses, cars and a coach). Looking forward to HT 2019 where we appear to be the only school in the UK with HT starting on 25th Feb and prices for ski jollies that week look on the low side.
Then you'll get to see more forums.
Fri 23-02-18 15:21
Replies: 8
Food on the mountain was fine – nothing gourmet or particularly special but good enough. Lift pass - 6 days for £147 (2 for 1 deal) an absolute bargain! Nice report! We were in Banff last Christmas and we have fond memories of the mountain catering, particularly the gravy in which chips would stand upright for hours! Is this a Jasper speciality too? With those lift ticket prices, it would be a winning combination if so.
And post your own questions...
Wed 21-02-18 20:46
Replies: 44
@The Flying Snowplough, tartiflette is good skiing fuel :D I got served my bodyweight in Tartiflette for lunch on the last day during our trip to Vars four years ago. After a respectable period for digestion, I was skiing like a cross between Franz Klammar and Hermann Maier in the afternoon. Or maybe it was a cross between Franz Ferdinand and Hermann Munster, Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed it!
which other snowHeads love to answer.
Wed 21-02-18 14:41
Replies: 233
Chancer. Neither "a legend" nor "aspirational" in my eyes. But she's competed in the Olympics which is more than most can say. Got to be in it to win it...
And they're a friendly bunch.
Wed 21-02-18 11:55
Replies: 233
I too was a bit bored of Elise and her crying... I'm more critical of the interviewers here, tbh. Humans can be emotional creatures and it's not really fair to stick a microphone and a camera in someone's face immediately after a bad result. I'm a very mild mannered person generally but in the immediate aftermath of bike races, the "red mists" are often still down and I'm not particularly good company. Luckily no-one ever wants to interview me! My kids both swim at a decent level and in attending galas you see both aspects of Kipling's "Twin Imposters" all too frequently with some kids down for a long time after a poor performance, but equally, a child who was in floods of tears in the immediate aftermath of a race can be laughing and joking with their mates 15 minutes later as though nothing has happened. Re Elise, she certainly has some guts. She's not chosen a sport with many "controllables" though, has she?
You know it makes sense.
Wed 21-02-18 11:33
Replies: 233
Has anyone watched the Skicross? Now that is not an event for the faint hearted!
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Wed 21-02-18 9:02
Replies: 44
@mgrolf, jealous re Tartiflette. Never got round to having any last week! Not jealous re touring - lifts were designed for a reason.
Poster: A snowHead
Tue 20-02-18 21:15
Replies: 204
@Layne, if Vars and MontyG were our only options we'd be happy to go back but there are just too many other places we'd like to visit/revisit in preference and we have such good memories of these previous haunts. Good call re La Tania. Skied there on a previous Couchevel foray and liked the look of it.
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Tue 20-02-18 14:19
Replies: 204
Vars - We had a fab holiday there in 2014 but got very lucky with snow, weather, queues and timing of Marseille holidays. Such luck won't hold in the future, so a return visit would surely be a disappointment. Montgenevre - We've had two fab holidays there in 2015 and 2018 but a third visit might get a bit "samey". Definitely on the list for a summer visit though, to sample the MTB routes. Reberty - Grim / uninspiring. If we were going to the 3Vs we'd go elsewhere e.g. one of the lower Courchevels. Lermoos - We had a great Christmas / late honeymoon there but got lucky with snow, as the resort is very low and the "local" glacier skiing (which was our backup option) was at the end of a long, convoluted journey and wasn't very good anyway. Besides, we got the only room in the hotel containing a suit of armour, from where the only way is down!
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name.
Mon 19-02-18 22:54
Replies: 22
@red 27, we vowed to go to the Italian side every day, but always went for "one run" on the snowpark, bordercross or halfpipe first and by the time we'd had "just one more, Dad" it was usually time to go home so we never quite made it!
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Mon 19-02-18 14:36
Replies: 22
...the state of my knees (3 ops down and I have destroyed half my reconstructed ACL)... Ouch! We generally go for a package where you can change your skis every day if you want to, which adds a bit of variety. Mrs Plough often swaps from carving to off-piste skis etc. depending on the conditions and what we have planned. For me, it just offers a chance to try a few different shapes and colours!
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Mon 19-02-18 14:27
Replies: 22
@The Flying Snowplough, were all off you hiring skis then? Yes - With ski carriage costs and servicing costs we can't quite convince ourselves that it's worth buying for one week a year. I'm sure there are arguments both ways!
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Mon 19-02-18 14:22
Replies: 28
We ended up bringing lots of cash back with us... We generally come back with an empty wallet and a melted credit card... :(
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Mon 19-02-18 14:20
Replies: 22
@NickyJ, we got a pretty good deal on lift passes - "only" circa 700 Euros for 6.5 days for the 4 of us. I don't know what kilometerage of piste is claimed, but there's certainly enough to keep a family occupied for a week and we tend to cover a lot of ground.
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Mon 19-02-18 14:04
Replies: 22
@NickyJ, I'd just done the same thing re our respective costs! HT in France, or at least flying there is certainly not the cheapest way to go skiing...
Then you'll get to see more forums.
Mon 19-02-18 13:57
Replies: 28
@NickyJ, I recall that you have gone with Esprit in the past so was wondering if you have decided to do your own thing from now on.
And post your own questions...
Mon 19-02-18 13:49
Replies: 28
@NickyJ, nice TR. Have you kicked Esprit into touch?
which other snowHeads love to answer.
Mon 19-02-18 13:46
Replies: 22
@Jeraff, just be wary of the half pipes. They're innocuously easy to enter but have a certain Mafia-like aspect when trying to leave!
And they're a friendly bunch.
Mon 19-02-18 13:41
Replies: 22
You know it makes sense.
Mon 19-02-18 11:08
Replies: 22
Where: Montgenevre, France When: 10th – 17th Feb 2018 How: Jet2 from Manchester to Turin. Transfer to MontyG via “Go Montgenevre”. MMV Hameau des Airelles apartment. Ski hire via Intersport. All booked direct online, as were lift passes. How much: £1600 for flights. E1800 for apartment. E1100 for skis and passes. Why: We’d done Half Term at MontyG three years ago and really enjoyed the town, the skiing, the lack of queues and the short transfers, so why not go for a repeat? Day -1: Grim slog over the Pennines to Manchester after school. Even grimmer dining experience at the Heald Green Beefeater. It is walkable from the Heald Green Premier Inn but otherwise has nothing to recommend it. Premier Inn was OK though a little tired. Day 0 part 1: 430am start, drive to airport multistory where the ANPR was working, despite a decidedly grubby reg plate! Novel touch at check-in as we weighed and labelled our own bags. Lots of helpful Jet2 staff on hand, as usual. Had I been one of them, I’d have been less helpful as presumably once the self-weigh process is bedded in, they won’t have a job. Security and walking through duty free were their usual time-consuming selves, but there was still sufficient time to partake of more low-grade chow in a restaurant whose name I genuinely can’t remember. Uneventful flight to Turin, rendezvous made with bags and transfer coach for a further uneventful journey to MontyG itself. The driver was allegedly Italian but drove very conservatively. Once in MontyG, we transferred to a Go Montegenvre car for the final few hundred yards to the apartment. Day 0 part 2: It was circa 1pm by this point and too early to check in, so what better to fill the time than making use of our free extra half day of lift pass and ski hire? Well in my case, there was a frantic search of luggage and a brief shopping trip to deal with Younger Miniplough’s “epic fail” on the salopette packing front! Mrs Plough and Elder Miniplough managed a good couple of hours on piste, with Younger Miniplough and me managing but one run down before the lifts shut. As penance for forgetting her kit, Younger Miniplough was condemned to walk through town back to our apartment in ski boots as the lift servicing the run to our boot room shut before we even set off. The apartment: We’d booked a six person apartment, which is comfortably big enough for four adults. It would have been a tight fit for six. Facilities were what you’d expect from a 4* place including the obligatory exceptionally uncomfortable sofa. With a few beers on board, it was just comfortable enough to spend the evenings watching some of the Miniploughs’ extensive collection of Netflix downloads. The only real downside was the very thin walls from one apartment to the next, meaning that we all got to share each other’s pre and post skiing traumas, even if the fine details were lost in translation. Fortunately, no-one in the vicinity was into any partying, so it was a pretty quiet week in general. There is a small pool in the apartment building which we didn’t use and a laundry room which we did. From bootroom to piste was a mere 90 paces in skiboots, with the same journey on the way back. Not quite “ski in, ski out” but pretty close! Free WiFi too, which was just about adequate for the whole building at peak times. Day 1: As the Miniploughs weren’t having lessons, we allowed ourselves a leisurely start to miss the ski school rush, hitting the snow shortly after 930am. On my way back from the bakers, I saw the usual early morning antics of parents getting their kids ready for ski lessons. Nothing has changed much in this respect from when the Miniploughs really were mini (instead of being exuberant kids trapped inside adult-sized bodies) and the thought again struck me that a passing stranger might well think that a family ski holiday was in fact some form of punishment for both parents and children! Days 1-6: In skiing terms, all days were pretty much the same. 2-3 hours before lunch, a long lunch break and then another 2-3 hours in the afternoon, usually being on our last lift just before it shut. We’d planned on going over to Italy as we’d enjoyed our one day of doing this last time, but the high level route was shut and we were having too much fun on the French side to bother with the low level route over there which looked like it involved a lot of poling. The skiing: The snow on the first 4 days was fantastic. There was a lot of it and the temperatures were well below freezing, so it stayed in top condition all day. It was fair bit warmer on the last 2 days, with slush on the lower / south facing slopes in the afternoon. It’s fair to say that the piste skiing is not particularly challenging, which is great for me, as it meant I could just about keep up, particularly if everyone else stopped to wait. We didn’t venture off piste as the Miniploughs kept dragging us off to the snowparks, border crosses and natural half pipes. I’d hired all mountain skis and I can confirm that I was equally inept on all types of terrain, so the skis certainly lived up to their description. Other than the Sunday where the Italians were out in good number, other than the odd mistimed arrival at draglifts, the biggest queue I encountered all week was for the “facilities” at the Café le Graal one lunchtime! The lift system is just on the OK side of functional, though a couple of faster chairs here and there wouldn’t go amiss. On the penultimate morning, we let the Miniploughs go off on their own, as the Elder variant is now getting very sensible and whilst the Younger variant has virtually no common sense, she does at least know to follow her sister. There were regular text updates (including a few selfies, obviously) and when we made our rendezvous at the apartment for lunch, they’d set the table and cooked the pizza slices! They stayed with us the next morning as they weren’t confident of finding their way to the Café le Graal unaided and they did not want to run the risk of missing out on burgers for lunch! Go Pro humiliation #1: We brought our Go Pro with us, having trialled it mountain biking last summer. As Tail End Charlie, I was appointed as Go Pro Man on Day 1. The problem with this was that I struggled to get close enough for any of the others to be identifiable in the footage. So after many minutes of footage of blue sky, snow, trees and other folks’ kids, I was summarily sacked as Go Pro Man with Mrs Plough taking over on subsequent days. Go Pro humiliation #2: On the evening of Day 2, we settled down for a well-deserved post-ski bevy in the apartment to view the day’s footage. It all started well, with plenty of action shots of the Miniploughs. But then things started to go wrong. Firstly, some uncoordinated lump wearing a jacket just like mine came into camera shot, disrupting my viewing pleasure by doing odd things with his backside and shoulders. Secondly, the Miniploughs claimed this was me. How could this be? It is well known in many mountain ranges that I am but a couple of technical issues short of being Hermann Maier’s body double. To make matters worse, my new helmet appears to focus on function rather than aesthetics and said jacket was bulked out with numerous items in the pockets. It’s fair to say that skiing in the toilet position whilst impersonating an overweight Robocop is not a good look. So I made sure I skied well behind Mrs Plough on Days 3 onwards! Redemption: Whilst being bad skiing has its downsides, it does consume a lot of calories if concerted efforts are made to keep up with the good skiers in the party. Thus, I won the competition for minimum weight gain during the holiday. In fact, I may even have lost the odd 0.1kg! Ou est Didier? On our last visit to MontyG, Younger Miniplough was taught by a guy called Didier, who still has legendary status in our house due to his enthusiasm and his ability to talk the ESF Patron into awarding a gold star when the youngster had marginally failed the speed test. Despite concerted eyeballing of all the instructors’ name badges, we did not find Didier either on piste or in the Café le Graal “after hours” which was a bit of a disappointment as it would have been nice to say hello to him. Food: We dined out at a couple of places: U Cintu in the evening and Café le Graal for lunch. Both ticked our boxes in terms of quality and service. The former was circa E90 for drinks, mains and puddings. The latter circa E70 for drinks and main. The burgers at le Graal are worth the trip on their own! The Miniploughs are well past the age of looking particularly cute, but they still got a smile and a massive serving of whippy cream on their chocolates when they ordered the drinks in their best schoolgirl French. When dining in, we made use of the various deli counters in town for lasagne, meat balls, chickens etc. Microwave popcorn in the apartment was a big hit. The return: Unlike last time when we were badly let down by our private transfer, the Go Mongenevre minibus arrived bang on schedule for yet another uneventful journey to Turin and thence to Manchester where once again, the ANPR worked and exit from the car park was a doddle, which hasn’t always been the case! Despite a dismal drive via numerous detours round road closures, we were still home in time to run the washer 4 times by bedtime. As always, the disappointment of a ski holiday ending is offset by being able to rest our aching bones on our own sofa before retiring to our own bed. Summary: Great holiday! I don’t think we’ll be going back skiing to MontyG next year, as Elder Miniplough wants to go to Austria so she can practice her GCSE German and our HT appears to clash with a very busy week for French holidays.
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Fri 5-01-18 14:03
Replies: 194
Our kids have had good experiences with ESF, primarily via Esprit. The key from their perspective was the language. Esprit lessons aren't cheap and I understand that they pay a premium to have instructors who speak good English. (To the extent that they can do a bit of banter with the kids and parents.) And obviously all the kids in Esprit lessons are English, so the chit chat is in English too. We had a bad experience when the kids were 6/7 with mixed language groups (not with ESF) and they were both a bit overwhelmed and didn't respond well. We used ESF on a non-Esprit trip in Montgenevre 3 years ago. Although there were only 2 English kids in each of their groups (6 Frenchies) by that age (13/12) they were able to cope quite happily with the chit-chat being primarily in French. The much maligned ESF even dished out a gold star to younger daughter despite her failing the speed test. (Didier the instructor went on bended knee to the ESF Patron to beg for benevolence!) We've been lucky in that both kids are naturally athletic and respond very quickly to any kind of physical tuition. I have to say that I quite like the brutal aspect to ESF where they promote and demote kids as they see fit. Though I would say this as given comments about the kids' athleticism, they've never been demoted, unlike their Dad!!
Poster: A snowHead
Fri 5-01-18 11:38
Replies: 83
Small beer maybe but at last year's county swimming championships my younger daughter found herself in the swim-down pool alongside Georgia Coates, who swam in the Rio Olympics. The youngster thought it a bit too much to ask for an autograph but did put in a bit of a spurt to overtake her. Later in the day, Max Litchfield, 4th in his final at Rio held the door open for the youngster as she was leaving the arena.
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Wed 3-01-18 8:59
Replies: 91
Does anyone else suffer from family faff? My pair (14 and 13 on our trip last year) appear to have finally outgrown the morning faffing malarkey so hopefully you're near the end of this!
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name.
Thu 5-10-17 18:18
Replies: 38
@dobby, we did La Thuile at HT in 2011 when the kids were 8 and 7 (not sure what age yours are). We had an absolute blast - relatively cheap, minimal queues and a good variety of piste skiing. We'd been over for a day or two in 2008 from La Ros in an adults only group and there was plenty for everyone.
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Fri 22-09-17 7:43
Replies: 38
the 2 blacks back to resort are proper blacks but we'll groomed. Surely proper blacks are never groomed. The blacks back to the resort are insanely steep. The piste markers at the top claim over 70% on a couple of them, though I didn't get my protractor out to check!
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Thu 7-09-17 12:01
Replies: 60
...the kids liked to see the 'Poule de Bresse' sculpture as a landmark. A summer holiday in the Alps doesn't properly start until we've passed the "metal chicken" even if the kids are no longer so excited. The adults in the car still celebrate!
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Wed 5-07-17 10:38
Replies: 26
Another vote for Esprit. Not the cheapest option, but they do take out a lot of the stress of a skiing holiday with kids. We went with Esprit to La Rosiere for our first trip "en famille" and have very happy memories. I was very wary before this trip, as I thought skiing with a 4 yo and a 5 yo would be needlessly hard work, but it was actually a very relaxing holiday. The hard work came on the next trip where we skied with the kids in the afternoon rather than utilising the child care. This was physically very demanding but very rewarding, once aching limbs had been medicated with Esprit wine! We also have happy memories of Esprit trips to Courchevel (twice), Peisey, Saas Fee and Belle Plagne! Folk we met on Esprit holidays spoke well of other family friendly operators too. EDIT - Just realised that our first trip was 9 years ago. Where has the time gone?
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Thu 27-04-17 18:30
Replies: 15
...just a shame about all the TVs everywhere your eyes move to showing continual Hockey Highlights. I told my kids the joke about going to see a fight and half way through a game of hockey broke out the first time we encountered the ubiquitous TVs. The loved the joke (oddly) and the on-screen violence. They took to saying "Do you want to go and see some violence, Dad?" as a cryptic way of hinting it was time for some refreshment! Loved the whole Banff thing when we were there at Christmas.
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Wed 22-03-17 11:48
Replies: 120
@rungsp, do you know if Switzerland accept EHICs from citizens of EU member states or citizens of specific countries explicitly including the UK independent of EU member status?
Then you'll get to see more forums.
Fri 17-02-17 11:27
Replies: 106
Sounds about fair price-wise. Elder Little Snowplough is going to the US at Easter next year for something in the low 4-digit range. A beginners' trip to Italy this HT is medium to high 3-digits. The issue is whether offering such a trip is sensible given that it has no real additional educational or social value (kids find out about beer and the opposite sex well enough without ski trips) and the less well off families can't really justify sending their kids off with their mates.
And post your own questions...
Thu 26-01-17 15:58
Replies: 91
I have given up caring what it costs on a ski holiday. I wouldn't say I've given up caring, but I've definitely got to the stage in life where I don't mind shelling out to get the accommodation I want in the resort I want, and booking in advance to achieve this as constrained to half term or other holiday periods. Once there, the marginal cost of eating out more than planned and a few extra beers with tea seems inconsequential! Applying this logic H/T 2015 resulting in £5k all in for the four of us including kids' lesson and premium kit hire, overnight hotels etc. We did La Thuile H/T 2011 all in for around £3k, albeit without lessons or eating out. It was the second trip of the year, so no-one was too fussed about economising. 9 days in Banff this Christmas cost £7.5k, though this was probably cheaper than having everyone over for Christmas dinner and I didn't spend all day loading/unloading the dishwasher!
which other snowHeads love to answer.
Fri 6-01-17 16:53
Replies: 82
The bit that freaked me out about the Lake Louise summit platter was the ropes alongside the steep pitch to grab on to if you fell. And the signs indicating that the surrounding runs were black or double black. Really not a lift you'd want to fall off. We ventured up that on our recent trip. I didn't research the lift at all, blindly following the kids who'd done it in a lesson the day before. It was a scary white-knuckle ride and when I got to the top the kids said something along the lines of: "We didn't think you'd get up that one, Dad!" Luckily, there was an epic run down through trees and easy powder, so I forgave them for taking me up there!
And they're a friendly bunch.
Fri 6-01-17 16:50
Replies: 82
Homme de Pierre drag in Risoul....explains why there's no one on those slopes. Steep and long and a walk of shame through some woods to get to the piste. IIRC, it's one of those drags with "if you fall off" signs.... I'm pretty sure we did that "en famille" in 2014. Elder daughter fell off near the top. Mrs Snowplough neatly sidestepped her and called behind her to me "Can you go and get her?" Half an hour later, the four of us were happily re-united. It was only over lunch afterwards that I realised my nadgers had been forced up some where near my ears!
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