Fresh powder, Ahoy!

15 01 2011

This weekend’s ski races in one of Switzerland’s biggest resorts at Wengen in the Bernese Oberland are classics, for those who are interested. The downhill is legendary and the crashes spectacular. Four helicopters and an armada of medical personnel are on hand to scrape any damage off the piste. Amazingly, most of the athletes walk away from their horrific-looking accidents.

Please DON'T try this at home.

I enjoy watching world cup ski racing on television because I always think I can learn something from the professionals. I first got acquainted with sport in the Pocono “Mountains” (hahaha), when I was 17. But my first real instruction on a real mountain of any caliber was fourteen years after that, in the French Alps.

And that instruction was superb – to this day, my ski teacher’s mantras still go through my head every time I step into the bindings. In the intervening years and with a move to Switzerland, skiing rapidly slid up the list of favorite outdoor pastimes. Because it would be a crime, would it not, to live half an hour’s drive away from the nearest Alpine ski resort, and NOT go there.

I totally enjoy the sport despite my pathetic style. Learning to ski on the wrong side of thirty, one just does not have the grace, elegance and bravado to fling oneself down the side of a mountain like someone who learned to ski when she was, say, three.  I am not totally risk-averse (I am a super action heroine, after all…), just… cautious.

Hearing about friend’s ski accident over Christmas once again gave me pause… Nothing like a shattered tibia to help one reassess one’s priorities.

Even though we have the Alps at our doorstep, last winter, R. and I travelled 7,000 miles to my favorite ski region in the whole wide world: Canada’s Lake Louise, in the Rocky Mountains of Banff National Park. Everything is just so totally perfect in Louise – starting from the dry climate, the well-prepared runs, the nice people, the spaghetti bar in the Lodge of the Ten Peaks, right down to the fact that you can park your car within spitting distance of Grizzly Express Gondola.

Lake Louise also hosts World Cup ski races, and the big black signs that mark the “Men’s Downhill” course seem to have an invisible subtitle that says to every wannabe ski jock: “If you dare.” And – who would have guessed – R. and I could not resist the bait. Fresh powder, ahoy!!!

Evelynn, trying to look the part....

The narrow, steep piste that takes the professionals about two minutes to master took us a solid half hour. And after sliding down what was nothing more than an icy canal (All four knees intact? Hips? Shoulders? Fingers?), we retired to the bar to silence our nerves, come off our adrenaline high and regain some of our strength. It was, as the Swiss say, simply mega.

It was SO mega, that it’s already January and we have not bothered to suit up and head to the local hills this winter yet – rendering us guilty of the above-mentioned crime. And I think the best place for me this weekend is not on the slopes but rather in front of the TV, studying the experts as they ski circles around each other.

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2 responses

15 01 2011
Naaahfick

You look the part and the setting, BEAUTIFUL. I will forgo downhill though and enjoy that kind of skiing the cross-country way, which gives my timid soul enough of an adrenaline rush 🙂

1 02 2011
Snow Bunnies take St. Moritz « Evelynn Starr

[…] maybe I really did learn something by watching World Cup skiing on TV the last few weekends, and not even at the expense of my anterior cruciate ligaments or any other […]

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