Speed, skis and thermal underwear
WHITE blurs in your sight. Chilly air in your face. Snowflakes drifting in the wind around you. Your arms raise out, the whole moment exploding as the speed under your skis gather, gliding you down the snowy mountain.
I was in Montafon, in Austria. It's a popular place to go skiing during the winter season as it offers a various amount of ski trails suited for all levels and ages. Being a a beginner I was able to find a large number of ski trails suited to me level and by the end was able to experiment with the harder ones.
I was fortunate enough to be able to borrow a pair of skis, pants, a jacket, helmet, goggles and of course that lovely thermal underwear. Although for those who can't borrow, there is a relatively cheap ski hire shop at the bottom of the mountains at Montafon.
After an unfortunate event of my ski shoes being stolen from the hotel I was staying at, I had to hire a new pair from the shop which was only 5 Euro for the day.
The day started early and the first thing on the agenda was the trip to the top of one of the mountains via a twenty minute gondola ride.
At the top of the mountain, my ski boots clicked into my skis, my goggles slid on, my ski poles in my hand; I looked like a baby horse trying to stand up for the first time. Unbalanced, wobbly, spending more time on the ground than upright and of course a good laugh for all those standing around me.
Making my skis in such a large V shape that I was nearly doing the splits, I started down the mountain. I felt like I had been going forever then looked behind me and I had travelled no more than 20 metres - yes, I was that slow.
I was fortunate with clear weather conditions on that first day, gave me confidence to go faster andy the end of the day I was able to get enough rhythm to be able to turn properly and go a lot faster. It was such an adrenaline rush going down the mountain with your skis straight, making you go extremely fast.
The second day the mountains were being hugged by a grey, thick fog. I could see no more than half a metre in front of me. All the skills I had developed the day before had gone and I was back to square one.
With my sight taken away from me, going down the slopes now was a lot scarier. Bumps appeared at random and unknown hills dropped with incredible steepness knocking me off my feet quite a few times.
Like someone was sifting icing sugar on top of a cake, the mountains were covered with another layer of snow very quickly. My plaits were soon frozen solid and any skin peeking out between the layers was pink.
It was definitely time for a hot chocolate.
The skis came off and it was into the little cabin halfway down the mountain. I discovered then that the hardest thing about skiing was not the actual skiing but walking in those ski boots. I looked like a starfish trying to dance.
Sipping that hot chocolate was heaven, as the warmth from the drink spread down to my fingers and toes.
I loved watching the experienced skiers and snowboarders as they raced down the mountain, a wave of snow covering me whenever they passed.
The best was when they went off the trails and down the side of the mountains in the deep snow. Reaching the bottom in 2 seconds flat it looked like they were flying through the cloud like snow.
The third day bought better conditions, though the slopes were a little icy. My confidence grew again with the pleasure of sight. Each track taught me more and I was able to go faster and more fluently each time.
The feeling on the skis as you race down the mountain is something I know I am going to crave badly when back in Australia. It was very sad to say goodbye to the beautiful place as we went back down the mountain in the gondola - I just kept craving more!
Although that feeling when you finally take of the ski boots is bliss, even better when you stand under that hot shower and begin to defrost.
I most definitely recommend for all those skiing to make sure they have really warm clothes: that thermal underwear was really my best friend. As skiing down the slopes all day will give your body a big cold shock, or like myself freeze your hair!
As a group of 11 in total, I am very thankful for those beautiful people that made the weekend happen. Also for the patience they gave me, making sure I got down that mountain alive.
This wonderful ski weekend was an incredible and fun experience for myself and hopefully the others that went with me.