My first skiing weekend

My second thought was, “where’s my camera now, when I need it!”

My first thought had been, “wow, it’s actually quite cool that I’m lying here in the middle of the ski-slope with my feet up in the air, skis still attached.”

That was the most spectacular of my tumbles this weekend, from my perspective, and I had my fair share.

They say skiing is like riding a bike – in that sense that once you’ve learnt it, you don’t really un-learn it. And it seems it is true. I was taught to ski 15 years ago, spent 2 or 3 days on the slopes then, and another 2 or 3 separate days since then, with the last one in January 2009. So, when I decided to take part in the company skiing weekend now, I was struggling to decide whether to take a lesson or not.

In the end, I thought I would hit the slopes, see how it goes, and then maybe have an hour or so in the afternoon.

Turns out that wasn’t necessary, because I still remember the basics. Sure, I took my time on the baby slope, then the practice slope, and then the scary steep hills – which were to be fun and straightforward only a few hours later.

One of the things I told myself fairly early on was that in order to really get into this, I would have to stop being afraid of falling. If you land “right”, most of the time you’re going to be OK.

We do fall a little bit further than those knee high children that zoomed past me on the snow. But it did remind me of how much more I get out of life by sometimes acting like a child would. At a swimming pool for example – adults put their toe in the water and then take a while to get into the “cold water”. Children on the other generally take a running start once they see the pool and jump right in. They know they will adjust quickly, they know they can get out if it’s too cold – they just do it.

Same on the slopes – they have no fear of falling. so they just get on with it. And I truly believe that we need to re-learn some of those things that society drums out of us children, and into us adults. So that we can enjoy life more fully.

Contrary to behaviour on the streets in European cities, fellow skiers are incredibly friendly and helpful. Not only my wonderful (newly met) colleagues, but every one else too. Each time I took to doing some chest or bum sliding on the slopes someone stopped to make sure I’m ok, and to help me with my gear.

I was most appreciative of this the time I tried to take out the small fence between our slope and the active raceing-slope to the right. I got so tangled in it, my pole-handle popped off, ski went flying and I had a bit of work to get myself to stop. In next to no time I had someone give me back my handle, my skis and check that I was OK to carry on.

I’m happy to say that I was not the person who was slowly ski’d down the slope in a basket, wrapped in stacks of blankets. Some (stupid? Uber-cool?) teenager had decided to ski down the slope beneath the skilift. You know the bit – there where they have chopped down the trees, leaving only stumps and rocks.

There were if you don’t know what you’re doing, you hit a tree stump you can’t see (thanks to that cold white powder…) and then you quickly break a femur, a face of what-the-hell else.

So I really am grateful for the patience of my new friends, them taking the time to go down the slopes slower with me, and to give me tips and pointers to help me improve. And it really is a case of practice, practice, practice. I found myself more confident and happier every time I went down – although I quickly became aware of my limits.

These types of weekends are great!

Within 2 or so hours form Munich, you’re in another country (no passport control though, just a sign along the highway) and another world. Surrounded by high mountains (how I’ve missed them) and lots of snow.

We had dinner together every night, had good laughs at and with the waiters, enjoyed good beer (both on the bus already or at dinner), had lunch in 100 year old wooden huts on the side of the slopes where they still make the “knodel” from scratch.

We went for a walk in the snow at night, with only oil lanterns to light the way, had gluehwein and wonderful conversation.

And we all really felt our legs on Sunday morning! Many of us would have taken a few more hours in bed instead of hitting the slopes – but once we were back in the tight ski boots, boards under our feet, soaring into the sky on the ski-lifts, none of us wanted to be anywhere else.

The beauty of the mountains, the falling snow and that sense of achievement at having managed to ski the red Olympic Games slope all make for awesome memories of my weekend at Patscherkofel outside Innsbruck.

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