Well, we managed to return to our hotel after a day on skis without having a serving of plaster cast. Not bad going for not having skied in up to 30 years. But skiing is like riding a bicycle (well, except you’re strapped onto two long planks, rather than into pedals) – you never forget how to do it.
We managed to score a 10% discount off gear hire, and a senior discount for a day’s lift passes, so we were (or at least I) was pleased as punch. I mistakenly didn’t take my proof of age card, but managed to convince the lift ticket seller that I am indeed my age, even parting my hair to show her the uncoloured white growing through. That probably did it, but note to self – hairdresser, pronto.
Off we go in the horrendously uncomfortable ski shoes – akin to strapping a cement block to your feet – lumbering across the snow to the gondola, which will transport us 1.7 kilometers up the mountain for our first run. Recommended for born-again skiers is the run from one gondola station to the next, some 1.5 km. It’s wide, well shushed, and a shallow slope, and I manage to do my parallel turns without doing a faceplant or having to snow plough all the way. By the time we get to the bottom, W is shushing like he never stopped, and is wanting to try the more ambitious slopes because it’s easier to ski when you’re going faster. Hmmm – will I agree with him – well let’s go and see. So we take the quad chair back up within a few seconds of arriving (only about 20 people waiting to get on) and have an easy ride back up the hill: we are covered in by a plastic hood that surrounds the chairs – no need to freeze anything else off.
When we arrive back where we started our practice run, W tempts me onto the intermediate slopes: shorter runs, but steeper and narrower, and because of the reduced traffic it has an unfortunate number of hillocks – not moguls, since moguls are considerably more like little mini-mountains of snow, but these are high enough to clip an edge if you’re a born-again like me. W shoots off like a pro, and I follow at a slower pace, trying to shed speed in the turns, and keep an eye out for unexpected hillocks which might impede my turns.
Too much speed and not enough turn sees me heading straight for the trees, but before I can hit one, the powder slows my speed enough that I just nudge the tree in a flurry of icing.
No harm done – BUT: I am lying on my back in two foot deep soft snow next to the tree, my skis pointing at the sky, and moving them up out of the snow so I can disengage my boots is proving a bigger challenge than I am up for. A very kind young Japanese girl has seen my predicament and bless her heart, she sticks with me through the whole episode, yelling down to her dad to let the man in the yellow ski jacket know that his wife may be some time before re-joining him.
Well, now I know what a turtle feels like when it’s up ended: much waving of arms and attempts to extricate myself and get those darn skis off, and FINALLY, I am free, but the next challenge is to swim through the powder to where my skis are now awaiting me, where the delightful lady has put them for me. Nope, can’t get up, because my foot sinks a foot into the snow, and I decide I need to swim a bit further before I find solid ground to rise to vertical – VERY hard when you’ve got blocks of cement for shoes.
Hooray! One foot into a ski binding, the other foot in, and I can re-join hubby, who is waiting 100 meters further down-slope trying to work out if I could get out, or if he should take the lift back to the top, and try to find me on the way down again. By this time, I am hot and sweaty, and my ego is decidedly bent out of shape – I had been doing so well up to that point. Maybe a little longer on the green? After all, compared to W I have probably done one tenth of the practice – he was born on skis. And my skiing in the fields of Australia can’t compare to the type of dry powdery stuff that they have here.
So for the rest of the day I restrain my impulses and stay on the baby slopes, and by the time we call time out, I am almost elegant… Except when I have to take the skis off, and then I’m lumbering.
A hot soak irons out the kinks in my ego and restores circulation to my peripheral regions, and I shall sleep like a baby.