Byline: AR
Story by AR

To Ski or not to Ski??

“take the risk and have fun”

We are well and truly into ski season, which can run all year round if you know where to go, or so I’m told.

I was lucky enough to be whisked away to the lovely little town of Morzine in the French Alps to fulfil yet another ‘bucket list’ adventure: skiing!

Now I will tell you this, I most certainly do not - and I repeat NOT - function well in the cold. So, although this was on my list, I never thought I’d actually achieve it.

When I told my friends and family that I was going skiing for the first time ever in my whole 45+ years, they just laughed. One even reminded me of my mantra ‘don’t get me cold, tired or hungry’: usually a bad combination for me, as I turn into a monster, LOL.

Bearing in mind I’d be in the cold for ten days, my biggest other fear was breaking a limb. I had seen enough people come back on crutches or in a cast, and this scared the bejesus out of me.

However, some people said to me: ‘don’t worry you’ll ace it because you used to be a dancer and will have good balance’. Little do they know that dancing and skiing are clearly two different skill sets. Take James Jordan from Dancing on Ice, he said the same thing…

Nonetheless, I was determined to take the art of skiing by the horns and prove to everyone that I could do this. I just had to plan the warm wardrobe first!

Taking NDY’s brilliant advice (from the ‘Tips for the Newbie Piste-basher’ article) I made sure I had a good base layer.

Ski Boots from Snow+Rock

Ski Boots from Snow+Rock

As a secret fashionista, (in my dreams) I pride myself on being colour coordinated, even down to the socks. I was kitted out in monochrome and even found a pair of black and white specially fitted ski boots.

I would agree with the advice given to buy your own ski boots, especially if you have ‘funny feet’ like me, (virtually flat). Snow+Rock, they took great care of me, measuring my feet, building my inner sole to boost my non-existent arch, the boots fitted like a sock. The only downside, was the time I spent in the shop – three hours to buy and fit a pair of ski boots, who knew?

Now that I was dutifully warm and had all the gear, I was ready to hit the slopes.

I signed up to ESF (Ecole de ski France) ski school for a six-day six-session course, (a two-hour lesson per day) costing approximately €155. Ski passes are sold separately.

Group lessons will obviously be cheaper than having individual ones. However, if you are shy of learning new skills in front of others, then individual lessons may be more beneficial.

Day One

I had ‘first day nerves’ as I didn’t know what to expect. Due to the size of the group we had two ski instructors, who took us through essentials such as: securing our skis, warming up, balancing on our skis, the snow plough and side stepping up the slope. I was a total disaster: falling over constantly and bursting into tears, due to my own frustrations of not being able to apply the instructions.

The mountains are my beautiful office, which made us appreciate our stunning surroundings

However, Tiger, our instructor was very supportive, saying I’d be better tomorrow.

Day Two

True to his word, the next day I came back with a vengeance and enthusiasm. Everyone in my class applauded, glad to see my return. I was determined to make a vast improvement from my first day. Our lesson consisted of similar exercises to those of day one, but with the addition of the ‘flying carpet’ tunnel travellator, taking us to the top of the nursery slopes. The trick coming out was to lean forward, keeping skis parallel. Of course, a few times I fell into the box splits and out of the travellator: comedy moments but at least I wasn’t the only one!

Day Three

Our large group was split up according to how quickly we acquired the skills. I was with a small group of eight. We bonded and encouraged each other to push through our thresholds and persevere when we felt we couldn’t continue.
Whenever we felt uncomfortable, Tiger, 62 years young, gave out motivational cards to keep us going, such as: ‘The mountains are my beautiful office, which made us appreciate our stunning surroundings’.
We learnt how to get on and off the ski chair lifts, this was a comedy moment for the not so confident skiers, as we all fell off the ski lift or crashed into another skier at one point or another.
The funny thing is we’d watch children younger than six years old skiing off the chairlifts with ease and no fear.

Day Four

We learned new ski routes, how to travers, avoiding obstacles and practiced more chair lifts! I even felt confident enough to film myself with my mobile!

Day Five

Was learning to use the ski poles to help sidestep whilst sliding, and diagonal sideslip with a swing to the hill. This for me was most uncomfortable, as skiing across the hill with other more advanced skiers coming directly towards the right or left of me, can be very daunting.

Day Six

Our final day involved going over all the skills learnt throughout the week and skiing over a longer distance to Les Gets.
As a reward for lasting the week, Tiger brought us a celebratory drink with charcuterie and awarded us our ski books - proof that we were no longer ski novices.

Although I made new friends, what I found great about my eclectic group, who were learning to ski was our age range, the youngest was 14 and the oldest was 70!

Learning to ski was much better than I thought it would be. I was able to show off my new skills with friends across Avoriaz, which offered better scenery than Les Gets. In Avoriaz, I picked up speed and didn’t fall over once. I was even able to enjoy the après ski at La Folie Douce – the Alps’ answer to Ibiza.

Skiing showed me it’s never too late to learn a new skill and have fun doing it – and I’d definitely go again! I’m glad I’ve found another hobby that I can enjoy - and I’ve achieved another goal.

The selfie skier

Is skiing one of your goals and why?? Tell us in the comment box.

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