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!