Learning to ski in AvoriazThursday, 24 January 2013
Before I set off to the French resort of Avoriaz, I spent a few days with one of my oldest friends. Mostly, this was to spend time with her and her gorgeous little baby. But also, I was robbing her of all her ski gear. I was only going away for a couple of days, and I didn't think shelling out hundreds of pounds on kit before I set foot on the slopes was a great idea.
She was pretty adamant that I would be a horrible skier.
She pointed out, quite rightly, that I have terrible balance, am clumsy, lack coordination and am doggedly competitive.
This is all true. I hate it when I'm not instantly the best at something. I get cross with myself, and with anyone who dares to take naturally to something. As evidenced by my attempts at punting in Oxford.
But you know? I wasn't actually that bad.
I wasn't nervous until I realised that everyone had asked "Are you scared?" when I told them it was my first time. I hadn't thought about being scared... but then I was.
When I went out into the dazzling sunshine, I was starting to worry. People were skiing past me at what I believed to be a blistering speed. My instructor came out, introduced himself, and told me to get my skis on and follow him.
"WAIT!" I cried. "I DON'T KNOW HOW!"
After he clipped me into my skis, he zipped off again.
"I've had 18 straight whiskies......I think that's the record."But I didn't die. Obviously. When I got to the next slope, I went back to my lovely and calm speed. A few times, I even allowed myself to take in a second or two of the amazing view. Not for too long, of course. I'm not a mug. At the side of most of the narrow runs there was either a dense patch of fir trees, or a startling vertical drop into a snowy abyss. Beautiful, don't get me wrong, but I didn't want to be falling down it.
I actually didn't fall over once. No one was more surprised about this than me.
Or maybe my friend. When I raced back to my apartment to text her the news of my amazing talent and skill on the slopes, she was proud.
"You were flying today, buddy. But a little too close to the sun."
If you don't watch Arrested Development, that may not be as funny as I found it.