Well you will recall that my first ski trip was a disaster and I did not ski at all having injured myself and hobbling around with a stick for two weeks.
My second ski trip ended up being a lot better …. But not immediately.
But first of all – how the hell did I get talked into going back to Austria to ski? A very persuasive husband and a little bit of Irish stubbornness on my side. I don’t like being defeated. So a couple of years later I returned to Austria, to the same little town Obergurgl, and bravely signed up for the beginners class. This time back we were a lot better prepared. We knew the village and instead of the big fancy hotel on the hill we booked into a cute little Inn right at the foot of the slopes – a place called The Hotel Wiesental.
Such a lovely hotel with a great dining room, wonderful terrace outside in the full sun and a hot steam pool. What could go wrong?
I signed up for beginners class and my husband signed up for the Olympic Training Course (I am kidding – but he was determined to only ski black runs). The first morning didn’t go so well.
We had a class of about 15 of us and the teacher took us out to the gentle slope in front of the hotel while we went through the basics of sliding down “pizza pie” style gradually developing into a turn.
Hmm…. The pizza pie was ok I guess but I seemed to have no control over which way I would turn – very often ending up on the ground. The morning lesson was 2 hours and after about an hour I could sense the frustration of the other skiiers. They were being held back by me and were fed up.
Eventually the ski instructor called over his boss (or one of the seniors). We all waited standing on the hill while the two of them had this long conversation with much nodding and turning back to stare at me on the hill. Then the older instructor came up to the group and with a big smile said “LESS…LEE … you can come with me”. Oh hell. What now. His name was Hans Jorg and he must have been in his sixties. This man taught me to ski. I don’t know why he succeeded when others did not but somehow he gave me confidence. He would go down the hill shouting “LESS….LEE follow me” and I would stick to him like glue. I figured if I just followed him and did what he did I would be safe – and I was. Although he was fond of tapping my ski with his pole and saying “A little bit more shpeed Less…Lee”.
One day I will return to Obergurgl – in the summer! From what I have seen it looks absolutely beautiful. I will feel much safer on my own feet away from that horrible white slippery stuff and will actually be able to enjoy the scenery rather than staring at the front of my skies with my teeth clenched.
If you do go skiing this Christmas – be safe! Have fun! Don’t ask me to come!