So, in the middle of January I went skiing. Yes me, the girl who doesn’t go to the gym, hates running for the bus and who’s hands are always, always cold. I went skiing and I loved it. Although I guess it’s a sport, it really doesn’t feel like one, and every second was fantastic.
Here’s the thing you need to know though – you ACHE. After the first day on the slopes, I had achey shoulders from carrying the skis over my shoulder when walking to the chair lift. My ankles were hurting from the constant pressure on them, as well as my calves and hips. Just getting out of bed was a struggle!
But it’s so worth it. The beauty of the mountains is breathtaking, and it is so peaceful to feel the absolute silence up there. After working in London, with the constant noise and crowds, it was a gift to be in the fresh mountain air.
I’ve been skiing once before with my school to Austria, so I’d adapted to skiing in the Alps during that week. Before that, I’d been on dry ski slopes various times, so I had a fair bit of experience. However, the ski trip with the school was five years ago, so I had no idea if I’d even be able to retain my (dubious) skills. Is skiing like riding a bike? When I was in Austria, I’d fallen over an average of ten times a day and my instructor was amazed I hadn’t broken a bone! Needless to say, I was not a pro. But this time, in Italy, I suddenly got how to ski. I felt in control, I fell over only a couple of times in the whole week and I could take on runs that would have panicked me in Austria.
Of course, practice makes perfect. The more you ski, the more natural it feels. We had two beginners with us in Italy, my boyfriend being one of them, and we made the executive decision not to put them in a ski school. The rest of our group taught them how to ski. They had a few lessons in the months leading up to the holiday at snow centres near us, so they got down the basics, but applying them to mountain terrain is more difficult. They did well on the first day, but because they were comparing themselves to the rest of us, they were disappointed and despondent. Possibly we pushed them too far! But by the second day, they’d gotten the hang of it and were keeping up with the rest of us. My boyfriend now can’t wait to go skiing again!
So here’s the big secret: the most important thing to remember when skiing is to lean forward. This doesn’t feel natural at first, but if you keep upright it will make it much harder to keep your balance. I learned this the hard way many times during my first ski trip! The good news is that snow is soft and so falling over into it really doesn’t hurt. The ski boots also help with leaning forward, as they force your legs forward.
Definitely start off at first on the nursery slopes, to get your confidence on easy terrain, and practice your turns. Turning is key. It’s how you slow down, and gain control on the slopes. At first, you learn to snowplough, which is turning your skis into a triangle with the heels out, and that will slow you down. That’s the only technique I could manage in Austria, but this time, skiing in Italy, I mastered parallel skiing, which is where the skis go in a straight line on their sides, and it is much more efficient. Plus you look cooler! As you progress, you can try the blue runs, which are easiest, and then the reds, which are middle level and if you’re very confident, the black runs are the hardest runs. I chickened out of those. They’re very steep.
The rush you get from skiing is amazing, and I loved every minute! I have to say that in Austria, I just felt lucky if I completed a run without falling over, but in Italy, it all clicked and I felt natural in my skis. The improvement was remarkable! Is this what it feels like to be a sporty girl?