My friends had been badgering me for years to go skiing but whilst the idea of spending time in the mountains appealed, I am not good with heights and definitely not a natural sportsperson. My winter holiday usually consisted of a week or two lying by the pool enjoying the sunshine. However, at the tender age of 29, I finally succumbed to the pressure of doing something active and agreed to join a group of friends for a Christmas break in Ellmau in Austria.
With the holiday organised, I set off to our local dry ski slope and booked a course of lessons to learn the ropes. This was where I started to wonder if a ski holiday was really right for me. I was terrified of the slope, and believe me we are not talking a major incline here, so what would I be like on a real mountain? I was the worst in the group by a mile, made no progress in the 6 lessons due to blind panic setting in every time I had to do anything and was written off by the instructor – not a great confidence builder. Despite this early set back, I told myself it would be easier on real snow – ever the optimist!
Although it was very early in the season, when we arrived at the resort, the snow was pretty good – global warming not being much in evidence back then! However, all did not go well – predictably, I was terrified of the slopes, the lifts (hideous T bars) and skiing in general. After a couple of days, I was ready to give up, concentrate on the aprés ski and think up some new holiday ideas for next winter but my friends persuaded me to give it another go. I had an uplifting private lesson with a handsome ski instructor (to be recommended) which helped temporarily but by the end of the week, things had deteriorated again.
On the final day of the holiday, we were supposed to progress to the next level which involved negotiating a long T Bar and what seemed at the time to be an impossibly steep slope. Fortunately I wasn’t the only person in our ski group who was struggling and after the T Bar from hell, 3 of us had had enough. The good news was there was a bar within bum-sliding distance where we spent the rest of the afternoon. Even more good news, there was a road up to the bar so we could call a taxi to get us down the mountain!
That could have been the end of my skiing days but no, I came back for more. In the early years, I always cried at some point in the holiday, mainly through fear but sometimes sheer frustration and there was a major celebration the first year I didn’t cry (about year 8 I think!) However, I am now a pretty confident and competent skier. The transformation was brought about, not only by my own dogged determination not to be beaten but also by taking a lot of lessons, mostly in Whistler, where the tuition is first class. So if you are struggling, keep at it and take some lessons – you can do it!
Copyright: Mandy Moore
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