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Whispering tales of Magic

Learning to Ski

FRANCE | Monday, 20 February 2012 | Views [239]

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As this is my third season, I decided that maybe I should learn to ski properly. At the moment I can get down a mountain, but there is no style or grace about it and when something slightly tricky crops up I freeze and go to pieces.

Meribel is great for seasonaires; they discount everything and do special offers everywhere, so I was able to get a great deal on some lessons with the local ski school Magic in Motion. Eight lessons over 4 weeks for 150Euro, (guests pay about 200euro for 6 lessons.)

There were six of us in our class, all pretty much at the same level and all keen to improve. The first lesson the weather was glorious so we went up to Mont Vallon the highest point in resort at 2952 meters and worked our way down bobbing up and down, wiggling our hips, and trying to keep our upper body facing down the hill, apparently this is good technique for skiers! It’s probably far more technical than that, but while trying to concentrate and get the hill in one piece, that’s what I heard from the instructor, Nico.

It was like learning to drive again, so many things going through my head, lean forward, bend your knees, face downhill, don’t tense up, bob up and down, avoid other skiers, stay in control, lean forward, don’t snow plough, my head was buzzing at the end of the two and half hours, but it felt good, and I felt that I had learnt stuff and my confidence was already growing.

The next lesson was a white out and we could hardly see so Nico decided to teach us off piste and through trees. After spending the whole of the previous lesson trying to remember to lean forward, I was now being told to lean back again, it’s no wonder I get confused sometimes.  Now for me, the biggest sticking point I have is turning if I feel I am going too fast, the problem with skiing through trees is, if you don’t turn, you hit a tree. I spent the whole lesson running on adrenaline, but survived and lived to ski another day!

Over the next few lessons we conquered moguls, mastered what to do with the poles, (up till this point I just randomly waved them about!) learnt to carve, hit the boxes in the park, and even jumped on an air bag!

Jumping the air bag involves straight lining towards a ramp, which means you take off in the air, fly for a split second (which feels like forever) and then land on the bag, hopefully in one piece. I was terrified, but never being one to let my demons stop me doing something, I squared my shoulders, took a deep breath and went for it......... screaming all the way down.

It was awesome!

I landed ok, nothing broken, and would definitely try it again, but it took me a good hour to stop shaking afterwards.

We skied off a roof one day, did a few black runs, even tried the half pipe in the park, but the best day was the day after it snowed and we went and did fresh powder in the middle of nowhere. Exhilarating is a good way to describe it. The views were amazing, uninterrupted by cable cars and barriers, the snow was so soft and despite definitely stepping out of my comfort zone we all had a great time.

There were a couple of sticky moments where I nearly spit my dummy out, but with lots of encouragement from the others and having a serious talk to myself I did it, and when we looked back up the mountain it was great to see where I had been.

The lessons have finished now, and I think my technique has improved, I can ski a lot faster and don’t look quite so dorky coming down the mountain and I don’t have so many “moments” where I freeze and can’t move. I still have a running commentary of all the things to remember running through my head, but it’s becoming more second nature.

I think now when people ask if I can ski, I can honestly say “Yes, I can!”

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