While the kids had ski lessons, both Matt and myself had our own lessons. I learned to ski when I was about 14 so that’s *ahem* nearly 20 years ago. Since then I have only skied once and that was at an indoor slope, the Chill Factore in Manchester, England. Surely it’s like riding a bike though? No, it blooming well isn’t! I couldn’t remember much apart from how to snow plough. Nothing came natural anymore. At the age of 14, I just did it. Back then, an instructor didn’t need to tell me which leg to put the most weight on. I could just feel it. I didn’t need to be told which way to face my upper body when turning, I just did it. Oh, and don’t get me started on the ski lifts. I couldn’t remember what to do on the different ones. My instructor was great though and really pushed me. Within an hour he’d pretty much got me to the point where I just needed to carry on practicing and I’d be fine. Or. So. I. Thought.
First of all going up a T-bar ski lift with your instructor is great. They let you get off first and steady it for you. Try going up with a snowboarder who accidentally lets his board cross over on top of your skis so you are having to take his entire weight to stop you both going flying off the t-bar. And, AND, don’t even get me started on the girl who had never skied before and decided she would get on the T-bar with me to the Summit. Yes, to the Summit. I did suggest she get off half way, but oh no, she was sure she would be fine. The problem for me was she had also never got off a T-bar before. Let’s just say, I ended up facing the wrong way trying to move myself backwards out of the way of the next set of people who were moving uncomfortably fast towards me. I have a lovely bruise on my backside from where the bar belted me as a nice memento of that experience. Oh and in case you were worried about the crazy lady who just decided to go for it from the top, she had to take her skis off and go down the whole mountain on her bottom. I know this because I passed her the next time I went down. I’m guessing she still has a cold backside.
So getting to the top of the mountain was, well, interesting, now for the going down part. Note to self, forget about the people behind you, particularly snow boarders. I lost count of the amount of times I heard a sound that, in my head, translated as ‘a boarder is about to take you out and you are going to tumble all the way down the mountain’. On one occasion being so concerned about how close other people were to me resulted in me losing balance and falling but apart from that the morning went quite incident free. At lunch time my Instructor saw me and recommended I try another couple of runs. He said “You must try the Champagne run. It’s our best run here at Baw Baw, you will love it.” MMMmmm Champagne run. That’s sounds good. Anything with such a name has to be a good thing. My Instructor then told me which ski lift to catch and then told me to get another ski lift from the bottom of that run, then cut across the mountain to come back down to where I started. Simple. Easy peasy. No problem. One thing I didn’t consider doing was getting a map. Why on earth would you need a map? It’s not like I’m not an expert skier who does this sort of thing every few weeks with the odd tournament chucked in for good measure. So off I went, determined to conquer the Champagne run. I must admit it was a lovely run and much wider than the other two I had done that morning. Then I caught the ski lift from the bottom and asked a few people about how to get back down to the village. “Just cut across there (they pointed in the genera l direction of where I should head) and it leads down to the village”. Oh yes, what they didn’t blooming well tell me was that in order to do it without dying you had to choose the ‘right’ way down. I started off okay but very quickly realised that there was no way I could ski down this slope. I just couldn’t turn quick enough. With every turn I was building more and more momentum until I hit a critical point. In my head there were only two options, I could either go straight down the mountain and let the speed build (and probably die as I am nowhere near that good) or I could purposefully fall in the hope of slowing myself down and keep my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t break anything. Bearing in mind I was going so much quicker than I have ever skied before, I decided to throw myself down. I actually thought I might die! I cannot tell you how far I skidded before I stopped under a load of trees. The first thing I did, as anyone who falls, either on skis or not will know, was look around to see who had seen me. Fortunately, the only other people on this slope went past me so quickly they were a blur. Of course the difference was they were capable and experienced. Not some idiot who got lost and thought, oh well, how bad can it be, just go for it.
So I sat there and looked around. I looked down the slope ahead of me which was, well basically, like a glazier there was that little snow on it. I promise you it was like skiing on pure ice. I decided I would have to walk across it and through a tree covered area over to another slope. There wasn’t a chance on earth I was going to put my skis back on, even just to cross this demon slope, so I walked. I got to the other side, a little shaken, cursing myself. Why was I doing that? Why didn’t I even think to have a map? Why didn’t I just stick to watching the kids ski and doing the odd spot of tobogganing followed by a hot chocolate? There were a few questions I didn’t have answers to. I could see a path through the trees that others had skied through so I went to put my skis on and….then the most important question I needed an answer to came to me. Why would my skis not go back on?! Great! Just marvellous! I have only just managed to cut across the death slope from hell without injuring anything more than my pride and now my skis refuse to attach to my boots. I can’t tell you how many times I tried and failed to get them on. I can tell you that by this time my legs were like lead from the mix of lactic acid and adrenalin. I looked down through the trees towards the next slope. Even though it didn’t look as bad as the last, I still didn’t fancy trying to walk down it. In my mind it still resemble an ice rink that had just been turned to a 45 degree angle. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally worked out why I couldn’t get my skis back on. I had ice stuck to the bottom of my boots which had stopped the skis clicking down. Mystery solved. I gingerly made my way back down to the village, relieved more than anything else.
After I met up with Matt and the kids we went for a little après-ski. Come on, I deserved a small glass of bubbles to calm my nerves. Sitting there, I noticed some small folded up papers on the wall marked MAP. Ahhh yes, a map. If only I had seen you 3 hours ago, you cheeky piece of paper you, I might have avoided the black run I nearly KILLED myself on. But then again, where would the fun in that be?