It’s now hard to believe that four months ago I had never put on a pair of skis. Barely a day has gone by in the past 14 weeks where I have not spent a morning getting hot and bothered as I pull on the layers, squeeze into my boots and carry my skis to the first gondola of the day. Having metre long planks attached to my feet has now somehow become second nature.
I can still vividly remember my first day on skis and how truly terrifying it actually was. I found myself envying the little children I saw bobbing down the slope, arms by their sides, a low sense of gravity and a complete lack of fear. But with most things in life, the fear usually boils down to the mind and what goes on inside it; “Am I going to fall and break a leg?” “How the hell do I slide down a slope THAT steep?” and more often than not… “I CAN’T DO THIS!!” Once you overcome your mind and start telling yourself you can do something, the task at hand starts to become a lot easier. Well, that is once you have gotten used to having super long feet and have some sort of understanding of what to do with them.
My job involves meeting new people on a regular basis; around 25 new faces every week to be exact. The guests that stay with us are here to ski and many of them have been doing so for longer than they can remember. Safe to say, nobody took too kindly to the girl who had only been skiing for a few weeks and who was now about to take them out on a ‘hosted’ ski day. It didn’t take long before I was sick of my own voice as I repeated “Yes but I have been here for so-and-so consecutive weeks, out every day and with skiers of a better ability than my own” plus the fact that I tend to pick things up pretty quickly. Oh and of course the fact that only 4 weeks into the season one of my team mates went and broke his leg so I had to step up and become a Ski Host – luckily by which point I was feeling up to the challenge. It wasn’t a responsibility I was expecting to have as a novice skier and hired ‘resort diarist’, but it is one that I would not have traded for the world..
The 7 week period of being a host brought with it some fantastic days out in all sorts of weather including a white-out with flat-light which confused me into trying to ski uphill, to a complete contrast of a sky without a single cloud and a day so warm I had to take my gloves off. I have got groups lost, got myself lost (whilst the group carried on without me), sent myself flying down a black run leaving my skis behind, face-planted (without breaking my nose, although I was pretty certain I had), drank one too many beers during lunch time and scared myself silly trying to keep up with the guests. For some reason a group of between 10-20 people following me down the mountain had me thinking my skiing was amazing, so I would show off and consequently the above statements have become funny memories. My team will tell you I still haven’t learnt.
In my free time I have attempted off-piste, putting my trust in friends to take me down something do-able and safe. This statement says it all: “If you aim for a tree Kelly you will have to turn so that you avoid hitting it!”. Hmmm. The snow was soft so falling every other metre was fun, but it did take me a loooong time to get back up again.
The long blue runs in the area gave me a perfect opportunity to teach myself to carve and I quickly learnt not to try it when going at a slow speed – my bum is still bruised. And as for moguls? I spent all of my free time avoiding them unless absolutely necessary. Never did I think that the terrifying black run would become just another run, but it didn’t take long and I enjoyed skiing my way down the Ski World Cup black in the area without swallowing past my heart on the way down.
I have felt very privileged to be given the opportunity of spending 4 months in this beautiful ski resort, whilst being paid to be here. I’ve not only learnt to ski but I have done the equivalent of 14 years for most people and have survived the season without any serious injury, despite sometimes acting the fool. I’m not sure skiing has become my new favourite sport, but it is definitely one I really enjoy and especially during the first run of the day when the piste is freshly bashed and there is no one around.
I now have 1096km under my belt, a new skill to add to the achievement list and a fresh batch of friends who will hopefully stay with me for life.
The 4 months may well have flown by but I can happily say that I am sad for it to come to an end – isn’t that the way it should be?!
Who knows what deep end I will next be thrown into but I can honestly say, I cannot flipping wait until the next time I get soaked.