Tale from the Town.
Wanna try skiing and feel you’ve left it too late? Mary Garg may change your mind.
“Its supposed to be slippy”… it’s a slippy sport.
So said my ski instructor Gigi during my first ever Alpine ski lesson (my second lesson after I fell off the escalator at my local artificial snow place the week before I went).
I have never ski-ed, and in fact as long as I remember never enjoyed the Fife sport of skidding down icy pavements to get to school. I am my feet’s employer and they need to go where I want them to. But coming down a mountain in a beautiful cable car in Switzerland in December 2019, I decided all the Christmas Markets were the same really; and I needed to try a new Winter holiday activity other than Gluwein Tasting & Fannying About Various European Christmas Markets; and seeing the ski-ers come down from the very top like magic Milk Tray guys gave me ideas.
Finally I was on a real Alp…
What the Milk Tray people don’t tell you is just how heavy the boots are and how getting into them is like some form of Krypton Factor test. There are buckles like no other I have encountered with metal bits and some Velcro thingy at the top that you cannot bend down to work out what to do – so it flops about until someone helps you work it out. I know they are heavy to keep you on your skis, but isn’t that what the massive ski suit, all the lovely Alpine fondu, and my own massive bottom are for ? Walking across the road from the drop off point to get to the cable car was like what I imagine Neil Armstrong felt as he tried walking on the moon for the first time. It was walking Jim, but not as we know it.
I got up the mountain on the cable car (I actually love cable cars) – note though the cable cars don’t stop – and you are supposed to put your skis outside on a moving vehicle and got on the moving cable car in the Boots !!
After I finally located my teacher – who was very nice and patient and good looking & very tanned & charmingly French in the mould of Serge Gainsbourg (without the Gitanes). He gallantly took my skis after I dropped them and ski-ed on down a ‘beginners’ slope which for my purposes may as well have been La Mer De Glace itself. After I fell over (and lost my non refundable or replaceable 69 Euro ski pass), cried a little and made it down. He showed me how to get the skis on and we had a bit of a walk about – me basically with my knees as bent as possible and my bottom up in the air and my glasses (under my new 40 Euro goggles) misting up and weirdly getting very hot even though it was supposed to be cold….
As I made my way down a tiny bit for about 30 seconds Gigi reminded me “it is supposed to be slippy, you are supposed to slide….”. I had another little cry then let Gigi go on his way as I wanted to fanny about on my own, and after trying for about an hour to get back up what felt like Mount Blanc itself to get myself a brandy from a St Bernard and Milk Tray.. took the ski’s off, yelled at the boots, got suncream in my eye, watched as 2 year olds ski-ed like mini James Bonds passed me and made my way back at veritable glacial pace. . Bertie who ran the ski shop gently teased me as I handed back everything and paid him. I felt as light as a snow flake going back across the road to the hotel in my socks…
I take my (hand made crocheted) hat off to everyone I met on the trip especially Bertie and Gigi…and anyone else who has mastered the Ski Boot.