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Tuesday 16 March 2010

Shoop, shoop, shoop...

Falling down a mountain with two planks of wood strapped to your feet has never really been my idea of fun.

It’s fair to say I came to downhill skiing late (Christmas holidays in Finland with family covered more of the cross-country side of the discipline). In addition, when the sporty genes were handed out in my family, my brother got 100%, and I was left with…well…

Both my father-in-law and my mother-in-law (who divorced when my husband was quite young) both skied, and both took him on ski breaks from a young age (occasionally even once a year separately with each parent). Consequently, to say that he’s not bad is putting it mildly. Once I had met my husband, there was therefore a certain amount of pressure for me to also “give it a go”. However, my argument was always that it seemed like a lot of precious time and money for something that there was no guarantee of me ever enjoying. I pointed out that, for the price of a ski holiday, I would much rather spend a week somewhere exotic, with guaranteed nice weather.

However, he ground me down in the end, and I finally agreed to go on my first ski holiday at the ripe old age of 28. (I only agreed as some other friends who were complete snow virgins had also indicated their interest, and I was therefore not going to be the only beginner on the slopes.) After all the build up, I was fairly ambivalent to the experience, and agreed to give it another go a couple of years later to see if I could get beyond the total beginner phase with any success. By this time, my fellow ski virgins had been completely bitten by the ski bug and had managed to squeeze in another 3 or 4 holidays, so were far in advance of my feeble skills. (They have subsequently been at least once or twice a year on average, despite now also having 3 children - they have been twice already this season, and are coming with us again next week!).

My feelings towards the whole thing are still fairly mixed. I once likened them to my feelings towards childbirth, i.e. I screamed all the way through it, but somehow the pain doesn’t seem as bad in hindsight. I enjoy the mountain atmosphere, I enjoy the scenery, and I enjoy slowly pottering on a nice easy slope, but I’ve never really enjoyed the speed and the fear. I put this down to being a) lazy and b) being too old when I started.

Anyway, this Saturday, we are jetting off to the French Alps for my third attempt at falling down a mountain with a bit of grace – the first time since having children. We will be accompanied by aforementioned ski-mad friends and another couple with 3-month old baby. Our eldest will be having ski lessons, although sadly our youngest is not quite old enough to partake, as it would have been nice for them to learn together (An acquaintance recently told us that he believed all children should learn 4 sports at a young age; skiing, golf, surfing and tennis. One down, three to go.)

If the children enjoy it, and we keep it up (wish it wasn’t such a stupidly expensive hobby), I’m sure they will be whizzing down the slopes faster than me in no time at all. My only option at that point will be to retire to one of the various mountain cafés with a vin chaud while their father tries to keep up with them on the black runs. Now that’s something I’m definitely looking forward to!


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