We decided to go skiing on day 3 of our vacay. We got our gear from the ski shop the day prior, including our helmets, and his poles and skis. Before booking, we phoned a shuttle service that’ll take us to the snow terminal, only to realise that they were full. So we tried another carrier, and this time we got lucky. Having gotten the transport done, we got our lift tickets. Snow holidays are pricey, but while you’re young and able, it won’t hurt to try new stuff. Throughout the break, I donned my thermals (I got three pairs). The icy weather around town was perfect for layering.
We slept well, before rising for an early start. We skipped breakfast at the hotel, instead getting ready and snacking before the 7:45am pickup. Once our shuttle minivan was there, we hauled our gear at the back and sat with other snow sports enthusiasts. We were the second last pickup before a pair of girls joined us on the way.
Before the storm
Upon arrival at Bullocks Flat (the snow train terminus), we carried our gear as I lined up for my own skis and poles (I got only the helmet at the other place). I waited for twenty minutes before being served. Upon collecting my gear, I copied my mate and put on the skates and helmet. Soon we were on the ski tube, an old mountain train servicing Perisher. We had a full house, with way too much company. We arrived at Blue Cow, our destination, before 10am. We hired a locker, then disappeared into the snow outside. I had trouble putting on my boots, and this bothered me for a while. Our lesson started at 11, near the yellow flag, so D and I had time to ski around.
Our instructor was a guy named Francois. There were four of us, including a couple and my friend. The girl had yet to see the snow, but the guy went to Perisher years back. F was very helpful and showed us how to put the brakes (snowplough), to turn, and connect our boots. I learned that simply putting on your boots was not enough; you needed to remove the snow by striking your boot. Too much snow would weaken the link, thus making the boot prone to disconnect. He showed us how to snowplough, which meant doing a pie or v shape with your skates to stop your momentum while skiing.
He then brought us to this uneven terrain, where we could put the lessons he taught us to practice. I would then start going down and the attentive Francois would yell ‘Snowplough! Snowplough!’ before I applied the breaks. Many times he would have to help me up, but we agreed that he was a good teacher. After going down, we would use the magic carpet to go back up again. This narrow escalator was tricky. Once I ran out of control and almost caused a domino effect behind me. I never learned how to turn, although my friend got the hang of it. The next activity was very tiresome for us. We were to go up the hill, then ski back down. I never even made it to the top; by then, the beginner (me) was exhausted. My friend needed a drink lol We told him we’d be back for the lift, but we had some lunch. After that, we never saw them again. With the hundreds of people on the slopes, finding one Francois was impossible. ‘There are thousands of us here,’ said another teacher.
The kindness of strangers
We skied some more, before a wind gust caught me and I was sent sprawling on the magic carpet. I fell down for the remainder of the ride. It was embarrassing, until an employee helped me up. I decided to prematurely stop my skiing experience. On the way back, I was going too fast when I snowploughed too late. Regardless, I fell on my bum again. Try as I might, I couldn’t remove my skates. I was grateful for the guy who helped me. There’s the train ride back, the late running shuttle service, and the returning of the gear. As a quick aside, an Asian girl tried to hitch a ride, ski gear and all, but we were all full. I felt for that lassie.
In sum, skiing is a joyful experience but not for the fainthearted. My friend may have found a new fave sport. For me, this is most probably a one and done kind of thing. I wished we were able to soar through the lifts, disregarding my own fears. Things though don’t turn out the way you imagine; in the end, I’m happy to cross this off my to do list. I look forward to more adventures in the future.