Sunday, January 20, 2008


I spent a day skiing with friends yesterday. And it reminded my of why
I both adore and loathe skiing. It's kind of an odd sport. You find
your way to the top of a cold, inhospitable mountain, covered with now
and ice; then you strap a couple of slippery planks to your legs,
point downhill, and hope that gravity and the rocks are kind to you.

There are many trials and tribulations that we go through to
experience this moment of terror laden euphoria. Often there is an
early morning start, a long trip to the mountain, lots of expensive
gear to buy and hire, expensive lift tickets, and the tedium of
waiting for lifts surrounded by half the people on the mountain. If
you're ultra-keen you may have even spent the previous month getting
fit so that you don't waste a minute of costly mountain time.

And the act of skiing is damn hard work, whichever way you look at it.
If there's powder it takes a huge effort to turn. If there's ice it's
a huge effort to keep your speed under control. If there's moguls, you
end the day feeling like a Maasai jumping pro. There's rocks, cliffs,
chair lift towers, 'slow down' signs, and other skiers to constantly

And after all that you get to watch how it's really done as a pro
breezes past you at a million miles an hour, looking like their legs
are glued together at the knees, while talking on their mobile phone.

It's been said (by a friend) that the best part of skiing is taking
off your boots at the end of the day. This statement quickly prompted
a debate along the lines of "no, surely the best part of skiing is
sitting on the chairlift after a hard run", "no, no, it's the beer at
the end of the day", "you're all wrong, it's the hot bath and food."
What all these statements have in common is that they don't involve
skiing. Methinks something is wrong here!

So what do I adore about skiing? Same as everyone else: the literal
rush of hurtling down a mountain side, the smooth swoosh of skis on
snow, the blast of fresh air through the hair, and often glorious
scenery of snow capped mountains, not to mention the sense of physical