Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Day on the Piste

The weather here is crazy at the moment. The past week has ranged from 35 down to a very chilly 16 tonight so as I sit in my Alpaca hoodie which should be relegated to the St Vinnies bin but it's so warm and snooxie - snow is falling on the Snowy Mountains (there's another one of those fantastically imaginative names), soft hail, which I suspect you northerners would call 'sleet' is falling in the Blue Mountains much closer to home and the wind is howling to the point that if the leaves now settled on the verandah are anything to go by, I'm now surrounded by naked gum trees.

During winter we have quite respectable ski fields on the border of Victoria and New South Wales. Hippybro in the old days would take Adam with him for a week, and other nieces and nephews, at quite young ages. They've all become accomplished. My nephew in England especially and he forays into France and Switzerland during the winter to snowboard. Clare even snowboarded in the Snow Dome in Dubai!

My and Adam's foray into skiing was his first and my last . I brought the kid along for a weekend at Thredbo with a bunch of friends, all of whom could ski. I ostensibly went as the weekend caterer but thought I might as well try my hand.

Whilst Adam was booked into kindy ski with kids his age and the more competent skiiers tackled the real snow, I ventured to Friday Flats at Thredbo. So called because it's easy peasy, low grade and I was told full of Swiss and Austrian instructors which rather appealed to a young widow if you know what I mean.

I booked into a beginner's class. As it turned out, I was the only native, they were all Japanese.
I was very disappointed to learn that our instructor was not only a woman but an Australian. So there went any hope of apres ski canoodling with a hairless, tanned Austrian for a start so my 'attitude' may not have been as positive as my giggly companions, most of whom looked like honeymooners.

Before we started, we learned how to stop. Simple enough manoeuvre called a Snow Plough. I managed to sail into the car park with my skis crossed, completely out of control and halted only by a wall of slush into which I managed to face plant unceremoniously. Whilst our young instructor was getting the shits with the Japs, none of whom spoke English and all of whom were obviously having fun and giggling uncontrollably. Ms Sour Pus focussed on the only English peaking person in the group. "Get out of that!" she screamed, as if I'd deliberately machinated to disrupt the class. Ok easy enough to do you would think. I began to undo the bindings on my skis. "NO!" shrieked Hitler's great grandchild, "You have to learn to get up without undoing your bindings." Why? If I fall over 'over the back' I'll just undo my bindings get up and put my skis back on.

So, righting myself requires 'stomach muscles' remember those? You had them before you had babies . . certainly before you turned 30 but then something happened and they went on holiday or to the place where odd socks and spare change flourish.

So, there's me . . total focus of attention after having face planted dangerously close to the wall of four wheel drives and on a slope of about 2 degrees trying to right my skis on an icy surface and stand up using nothing more than my stocks for lift and my stomach non-muscles to propel me into the upright position.

In attempting said manoeuvre, my very nice Raybans flew off into the snow. "Oh look here . ." says she with the forked tongue, knowing full well that I'm the only one who can understand a friggin' word she says, "What have you lost there, your KMart sunnies . ." Bitch! I'm so humiliated that I don't have a comeback. I'm writhing on the frontest section of Friday Flat providing local entertainment for six Japanese tourists and the ski instructor from Hell is picking on my eyewear . . .if I could have stood up without sliding sideways I'd have taken her out with my stock!

So the rest of the lesson didn't go much better. I managed about a 50 metre downhill stumble before losing control repeatedly and landing on my bum. Each time, the cow faced troll from the underworld refused to allow me to undo the bindings in order to right myself. (Thank God for the most hopeless of us who was veering uncontrollably towards the Snowboard park and distracted her momentarily so that I could quickly unclip and get myself upright).

It was an hour of total bollocks and I was close to tears at the end of it. From then on, I've not tried to ski.

I spent the next day riding through the mountains on a tough old Appaloosa gelding called Chocolate which was much more pleasurable and the scenery was spectacular. Just me and some old Bushy called George . . we chatted about the snow gums and why they take the back shoes off mountain horses when the weather freezes, and what a travesty it was that 'they' want to stop people riding in national parks. We strolled through icy creeks and wild pathways and stopped for billy tea and a home made scones. He talked about how beautiful the place was in summer and how his wife makes the best rabbit stew and pumpkin pie . . .you can keep your piste . . .gimme a horse among the gum trees and a bushy's tales and I'm happy as a pig in poo!

And you . . , you mean spirited little cow . . I hope you heliskied on Mount Cook and drowned in powder!


Miles McClagan said...

One of my favourite jokes when I was a kid ended with "Alpaca lunch!" (get it - I'll pack a lunch...hilarious...) but I can't remember the set other was "What lies on the bed and sings? Madoona!"

R2K said...

: )

michele said...

What a wench. I'm crap at skiing and broke a rib the last time I tried it, but now the sprogs are big enough I can't wait to give it another lash. I did my first lessons in icy conditions and over do my turns on powder.

Anonymous said...

OMG I love the weather at the moment! Don't you? It's so predictably unpredictable. Today the clouds were magnificient, dark, light, heavy, fluffy, a bit of rain in the distance.
I have never ski-ed in my life, ever. When I was playing volleyball we were not allowed to ski, skate, even play tennis because the coach was paranoid after a ski injury by one of our top players.

Melissa said...

"... canoodling with a hairless, tanned Austrian" ... LOL! Wow, what a way to kill the joy of skiing for a beginner -- I'm with Michele, what a wench!

I've been meaning to comment and say how much I enjoyed your vacation shots, but things have been off a little this week. All is well, though, whew! And I'm catching up with blogs. Great post! :) It's chilly up here, with snow flurries daily -- love it!

grannymar said...

Memories are flooding back of a trip to Austria in the Ski season many moons ago. I think I had lead in my pants as I spent most of the time sitting on my bottom! No matter how hard I tried to stand, I would start to laugh and fall over again.

The Apr├Ęs Ski was more to my liking! ;)

Nick said...

I've never been skiing and never had the urge to - I suspect I would have been quite as ham-fisted as you. Riding sounds much more relaxed and enjoyable. Jenny's really moaning about the cold, rainy weather in Adelaide. At least she didn't get the storms. I thought Oz was supposed to be steaming and sultry?

Ropi said...

We had the first snow here this year.

Baino said...

Miley makes me smiley! It's a Madoona and DVD day here today! Blowing a gale!

You too by the looks of it Rocketman!

Welcome Michelle, where'd you spring from then? No powder in Oz I'm afraid but reasonable cover if the season's good. I'd rather chuck a snowball frankly.

Gaye, I have to say I'm not enjoying it at all. I hate the wind and the place is such a mess with all the gum leaves. I'd like it a little warmer! Must admit, my nephew was flown out of Perisher once after sustaining a very nasty shoulder break.

Melissa, I think your kind of snow I could deal with. I don't mind walking on it or tobogganing even but my aspirations for skiing are no more!

Grannymar, slippery stuff init? I don't know how the kids snowboard beacause the 'natural' fall is always backwards . . hard on the bum I believe!

Nick November is normally lovely but it was about 9 in Adelaide yesterday. We're having a cold front from the Antarctic apparently. I'm sure it will be nice enough by the time you venture over here.

Ropi Budapest has amazing weather. It can be really hot in the summer, I didn't realise you had snow as well!

Miladysa said...

I would have lamped her!

Great tale though Baino :D Brought back memories of my first ski instructor - a French Canadian named Patrick. I spent an entire week feigning injury and flirting. Still have his photograph! *sigh*

Megan said...

Tee hee great story, Baino!

I've only been once, myself. Managed to survive but I did run into a few people. Couldn't master the turns at ALL.

They've turned on the snow-making machines in our mountains here...started to hear the ads on the radio this week.

Jay said...

Oh, I'm totally with you - I'd much rather ride than ski, and not just cos of the snow, either! I can wrench an ankle walking across a flat piece of carpet, so how long do you think I'd last on skis?

And I think I'd have wrapped a ski pole round that woman's neck and stuffed my Ray-Bans up her nose.

I didn't know you had 'soft hail' in Oz! You learn something new every day. ;)

steph said...

"a very chilly 16 degrees"

That's hot around here!

I too have a grotty looking fleece which is long past it's hey day but it's so snug, I can't bear to part with it. It's my comfort blanket!

I've never dared to ski 'cos of my wonky joints, I'm enough of a disaster without skis on! I'm sure if I'd had the opportunity when I was a young thing, I would have given it a go but these days I'm happy to stick to making 'snow angels'.

laughingwolf said...


i don't ski... of any kind :P

i went to clear the 15 - 20" snow off my car tonite, to discover some mofo had run into the back end, causing at least $2000 in damages... called the cops, got some twit of an operator who told me i had to report it in person... WHAT? walk five miles, through snow, uphill? any other accident i reported, the cops came out to take my statement! told the super of my building, can do nothing, with no witnesses... called another cops' number, waited 20 minutes, on hold, gave up... will call later tonite

called my insurance to report it on their voicemail, likely not hear back til monday

NOT a happy camper, tho the car is drivable....

Baino said...

You've still got his picture! That's dedication. Apparently I was at the wrong resort, should have gone to Perisher Blue! I still to this day don't know why I didn't give her lip. Must have been very respectful back then.

At least you managed to stay upright Meg! I spent most of the hour on my backside!

Jay the ride was wonderful, about 4 hours around the snow gums. They take off the back shoes to stop the horses from slipping on the icy rocks. Tough old Stock Horses they are. I actually lost the Raybans during NYE fireworks on Sydney Harbour and have never bought expensive sunnies since!

Hot! NOT! I've even dragged the heater our again and hired three horror flicks. Couch potato day today! I know what you mean about comfort clothing. I daren't be seen in public in this old knitted thing but it's soooo warm. I think being young is the key to success. My best friend started in her teens and is an ace at 52 . .she goes to ski in Japan every January.

Babysis said...

Ah the snow! Yep Perisher or even better Blue Cow is the place to learn. I learnt at Blue Cow...had lessons....had schnapps...had lessons...had schnapps...had another slightly silly lesson...had a lot more schnapps....GOD I LOVE SKIING!!!

I even skied whilst 4 months preggas with Maddie.

These days, my body doesnt like to ski so much as its old and floppy -but theres always the schnapps isnt there!

Joel finds it very tiring and usually finds a nice rock to sleep on!

Babysis said...

Oh! Beautiful Beautiful Snow Gum picture!!!

kj said...

oh baino, i had this exact experience and haven't put on skis since. i was on a "small" hill in the swiss alps and almost non-snow plowed a half a mile straight down.

how about lounging by the pool? doesn't that make the most sense?


ian said...

Ah Baino, you're a quitter!

When you said one time that you had tried ski school, I thought that you had attended for a week, not one session. I started in 2005 and had only reached the level you reached after two days; and I had a seventy year old Austrian shouting at me. I still can't stand up without releasing a ski and I'm off on my fifth ski holiday in January. Time to give it another try!

Baino said...

I never got into it Babysis. It seems so expensive and such a lot of trouble just for a slide down a mountain.

kj I'm far more competent at 'lounging' pretty much anywhere.

Yep. Quitter! That's me. I know you love it, I'm happy that you love it but it's not for me thanks!

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

I love skiing, learned first when I was 9 and used to ski at least a couple of times a year when we lived in Blighty, CI and Ireland.

And if you want tasty Austrian instructors, go to Austria! Mind you, they're not all tasty, some are old geezers who you would see as granddad while they still think they're saucy. Oops.

My worst instructor was in France - a French girl - so I think there is definitely a weird girl instructor thing going on.

As for the weird weather... If this is 2008, this must be global warming...

i beati said...

your nature descriptions - wundebar