Friday 26 October 2012

Notes from Tignes, 1

Picture it, if you will. I am most likely, with my 10 weeks of experience, the worst skier on this glacier. Small children fly past me in racing leggings, bent double, clouds of snow flying up behind them. It's disconcerting. It's also snowing, quite heavily. I can't remember if I rewaterproofed my jacket after washing it in April.

The chair lift is up a slope. I sidestep this the first time but have to pause twice to catch my breath: at 3000m I'm wheezing like a retired coal miner. The Italian ski juniors, chic in all-white outfits, remove their skis to get to the lift and carry them on the chair. Good tip, I think. I do this the second time round, and don't have to stop for breath once on my walk to the lift. 

But then - ah. I have to get off the lift. Someone has placed a non-slip mat at a treacherous angle at the top. What were they thinking?! Anybody would think this was for skiers. I put my boots down, and for about half a second I slide effortlessly down, before my feet start scrabbling under me. In what seems like a stretched out moment in time, I remember this exact thing happening when gorge walking at Pencelli and how funny it must have looked. That time, I remember, I fell in the river.

This time is the same, without the cushioning water. Time speeds up again as I hit the deck hard, knees first, facing down the slope, skis everywhere. I scrabble for purchase but there's none to be had. I look up for help - none of that, either. I start to do an ungainly crawl to try and move into a position where I can stand, but then start hearing yelling behind me as those chic Italian girls panic at the liftkill in their way. Sacrificing the last of my dignity, I fling myself in a barrel roll to one side, narrowly avoiding braining myself on my skis (thanks, helmet) and they merrily clatter past me, "OK! OK!" and toddle off to the next lift.

This is the last straw. What, no help?! I briefly feel unable to stand ever again. All lessons henceforth will be taught from the top of the glacier via Facetime and Skype. A wave of self-pity rolls over me. I limply haul myself to the cafe, where a massive selection of toothsome cakes await, only, these salopettes only just fit and cake after only 2 runs seems unjustified. I sulkily order an espresso instead and decamp to a corner to take my jacket off. Turns out, I didn't rewaterproof it. Utter fail. 

But, if there was an award for feeling sorry for oneself, I would at least win that.

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