Last weekend I was up at Morzine, skiing. Beautiful place and if I didn’t know it was France would have thought that I’d stepped into a Heidi movie. Wooden cabins with love heart shaped cut outs on all the balconies and eaves, and the street lights are in the shape of snow drops or icicles.
My lifetime experience of skiing has been a bit patchy. Nothing for the first twenty years, then when I moved to Canberra I had a couple of weekends up at Perisher and in fact my first ski lessons. Possibly my only official ski lessons.
Then I moved to Chile for work and skied myself silly. A group of friends and I rented a chalet for the whole of winter, each winter, at Portillo. As with everything in or close to the Andes, the slopes are at ridiculously high altitudes and it is very close the Argentine border. We thought at the time that if we skied in the wrong direction we could accidentally ski into Argentina but having approached that border from the other side recently I realise that there is quite a stretch of no mans land, so that story was not quite correct.
But after all that I considered myself a competent skier. I could do black runs without falling over if I was reasonably familiar with them and it didn’t involve any jumps.
Then there was a big gap of about five years. I did a one-off skiing expedition to Switzerland followed by another ten years or so before I moved to the north of Japan.
My view of skiing was that it is hard to enjoy it if you pay a lot, have a five day skiing vacation, and have to ski on the bad weather days because you want to get your money’s worth. I was spoilt in Chile where there were days when we’d go to the lodge and not ski at all, or even more outrageously ponder on Friday night if it was going to better at the beach in Vina de Mar or at the slopes of Portillo. So I didn’t make any effort to travel to ski.
Japan’s island of Hokkaido is famous for the volume of snow that falls each year. In Sapporo, the average is around 10m. There are so many rules, road signs and lights that don’t make sense until it snows, and then the snow banks are so high and visibility so poor that you welcome every indicator of a road. Many towns have their own small ski slopes and I skied a couple of times on the one closest to me, and then had a two or three weekends at Sahoro and Furano which were the closest big resorts to Obihiro where I was living. Niiseko, the big international resort is on the other side of the island.
Each time I did ok. Took a couple of runs to feel the rhythm, but I was competent.
Then Alpes d’Huez in France a couple of years ago – absolute disaster. Going back to my days in Chile, my memory of my skiing abilities was that I was a medium to good skier. But in Alpes d’Huez I put on the skis. I jumped onto the Pommer lift. And I collapsed onto the ground in front of the attendant. Not only that, but I couldn’t get up again. My legs mysteriously failed to provide me with the getting up ability.
So it put me off. I’m no longer that person that jumps at every chance to go skiing. I put on a brave face and get out there.
One glimmer of hope is that I took some quite tough yoga classes to fix my back and I felt the benefits in my legs last weekend in Morzine. Furthermore Vincent, who has been skiing since he can walk, had a huge fall and has self-diagnosed cracked ribs so I’m doing ok.
Am I alone here? Has anyone else gone back to skiing after a long break, or has anyone else experienced a fairly inflated view of their skills & abilities?