Ski Weekends

We went skiing this last weekend.

That sounds like a lot of fun doesn’t it? It sort of conjures an image of daring and sportiness, Apres ski, and so on.

When I say we, I really mean my partner and daughter went skiing. Off they went and down they came the ski slope again and again and again. Me, I either watched them shivering in the freezing cold breeze, or you would have found me skiing several times down the last 50 meters or so of the slope, cursing like a trooper, moving like a skewered Giraffe on drugs and sweating like a … well, pig actually.

You see, Skiing terrifies me.

It sounds good. I’m going skiing! The reality is that anything more than 15 degrees sloped downwards and I can’t. My legs, back and arms tense up so much that it actually looks as if I have muscles. I begin to sweat in total and utter fear. It doesn’t matter how hard I try to convince myself I can do it, I just know that I can’t.

Meanwhile, kids the age of 4 go whizzing past me laughing like crazy banshees as they go. It just makes it worse. It just makes me feel so ashamed and guilty that I didn’t see a skiing slope until the age of 43 and not again until I was 47. That I didn’t really try skiing until I was over 50. Had I learned at 4 like these Czech kids, I too would be whizzing by like EVERYONE else on the slope.

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I stagger back up the hill. The boots feel like vices around my ankles and I cannot walk in them. The skis actually seem to weigh a ton and have a life of their own. I reach my destination and dump the skis down. It takes me 5 minutes to get my feet in the bloody things and I nearly fall over, or rather do the slow splits several times trying. Eventually, I look right and left for whizzing kids and, spotting a gap, I push myself out. I criss cross the slope about 10 times doing 3 mph and do a snow plough stop 50m down slope.

I wave at my daughter, 7 years old, as she whizzes past me shouting “Daddy, Daddy, look….” She has now learned to stop properly somehow leaning into the skis and showering everyone around in shaved ice. It just makes me feel worse. I quit totally demoralized and after taking 20 minutes to remove the vice-like boots (which have resulted in swollen legs), I trudge off for my hot chocolate…… if I wasn’t driving I’d have a drink, God knows I need one.

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Learning to Ski After Age 50

Learning to ski later in life is an experience.

Just getting the ski boots on is an almighty struggle and by the time those boots are on, I am exhausted. Then off you tromp as best you can with immoveable ankles and carting what seems to be two tons of skis over the shoulder. All around others from the age of three all the way to pension age move with effortless ease while you feel like an elephant on ice.

Next, you carefully put on the skis. A balancing act in of itself as the damn things slip and slide making you look like something out of a cartoon whose legs are whirling frantically but there is no forward progress. Now, with huge attachments to your legs making it nigh on impossible to move at all, you try to make your way to the lift. The lift. Getting on it is actually surprisingly easy as you catch the small round seat on a pole and allow it to gently pull you up the hill. You learn pretty quickly that now is not the time to take in the view as you inadvertently allow the skis to cross, get dragged like a sack of potatoes for a few meters before laying in the snow like an idiot wondering how to remove those skis.Small children ski gleefully around you treating you as yet another small obstacle to ski around. After an almighty struggle you manage to remove the skis. Sweat runs in rivulets down your face as you try desperately to stand when it is impossible to use those ankles locked irrevocably in those prisons called ski boots. Eventually, you manage and even manage to put the skis back on.

Then comes the moment.

You begin to slip slowly at first but ever faster down the slope. The snow plough is executed but for some reason, you are not stopping. There comes a moment of absolute terror as you realize that you are out of control picking up speed with skis heading if different directions. The grimace on your face from a distance looks like a smile. The only option remaining is to sit down before you fall down. The small kids look at you strangely. They have never seen an adult who couldn’t ski.

falling

Despite the total and utter fear and strain on muscles you never knew you had which involuntarily tense up, you keep trying. Falling. Trying. Falling. You even finally manage it all the way up the ski lift without getting off prematurely and realizing to your horror that you are now skiing backwards….

After several hours, your back aches, legs ache, everything aches. But you did it. You eventually skied down the hill along with the other 3-year olds. Unlike them, a nice cold beer awaits you at the hotel and bed………