Monday, February 19, 2018

What Do You Call A Polish Skier?

The first time I slipped my skis on, it took me a whole morning to get used to it. It is not normal to walk around with two long slats attached to your feet. It is positively weird. I had worn thermal underwear, ski top, ski trousers, ski jacket, helmet, googles, ski socks, ski boots and ski gloves. I held two ski poles in either hand and looked more like a bulked up Michelin man than a skier. And there was this whole other business of slotting your feet into skis and trying to walk uphill to reach the teaching area.

I spent three to four hours just trying to get across a few feet uphill. It didn't help that the rest of the group was negotiating this tricky manoeuvre with grace and ease while I looked like a stranded mammal trying desperately to get out of water. Gasping, spluttering and failing miserably. I'd take one foot ahead and slide back three and I would start again. Then there was this utter humiliation of falling. I kept falling, over and over again and needed assistance to stand up. And all the time, toddlers were racing past me with pity-filled eyes.

But look at me now!
There was one memorable instance when I was trying to go uphill on a button lift. These contraptions, if you have never had the good fortune of standing on one, work like this. They are round discs attached to metal poles that dangle from a carousel overhead. You are supposed to hold on to the stem of the pole and let yourself be dragged uphill from where you can ski down. Simple enough. Except it was anything but.

The wretched discs go round and round and as soon as one has left, you should get into position so you can grab the next one and be dragged up. I had issues with timing and would always be too late to catch them. And even when I did, my skis would not be parallel and within seconds my legs would be tangled and I would fall into a twisted heap. I would be led to the back of the queue and the ordeal would begin again. The next time I would get into position and ensure that my skis are parallel, only to have the discs knock me on the back of my head and make me lose control. Once when I had got myself into position, someone at the back of the queue had had enough and jumped ahead and unable to stand on a slope, I slid backward, fell down, watched the skies and wondered why I was putting myself through this.

By the third day, my legs were bruised badly and I didn't want to do it anymore. It didn't help that my instructor (memorably called Vlad. Everything was downhill from there) had yelled at me for not following his instructions. As an otherwise capable adult, I could not comprehend my abject inability to come to grips with this new skill.

I sat in the cafe, drank hot chocolate, marvelled at the French Alps and felt utterly miserable. The next day I had an hour's private lesson with a kinder and altogether more easy going French woman and it was marginally better. That Saturday before we were due to leave, my husband insisted that I go with him and he took me on my first ever ski chair lift ride. What followed next is not something I would forget easily.

Answer: Parallelski

Joke courtesy: Firstborn

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