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