My adventures skiing this year filled me with a sense of obligation. I, after my fourth Alpine attempt, have an obligation to share with the rest of you poor, unsuspecting creatures (those yet to experience le Ski) the fact that skiing is not like it is in the Hollywood films, or the travel brochures, or even those Varsity photos. Though it does have its upsides, I feel it is my responsibility – nay, my duty – to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about skiing.
The Look: When considering whether or not to take the plunge (down a mountain with nothing but very limited friction to hold you back), the first thing you absolutely must come to terms with is that you will not look attractive at any point during a skiing holiday. Forget the unflattering Michelin Man outfits and laboratory goggles; how about the fact that even though it’s below zero degrees, the faces of skiers are rife with sunburn? Even if you’re one of those absurd ‘olive-skinned’ types that actually experience the wonders of a tan, your look will still be ruined by those classic goggle tan lines. This is all not to mention, of course, the general sweating, hair-stuck-to-your-forehead issue which is enhanced by the hat/helmet component. Finally, even from afar, it’s pretty much impossible to look graceful and in control on skis unless you started learning at the age of four. You may feel like a glorious eagle soaring down the slopes majestically with the wind in your sweaty feathers, but don’t be fooled. After repeatedly seeing photos of myself looking like a hunchbacked old man trying to skateboard, I have realised that things are not always as they seem.
The Flirting: It is no secret that one of the most interesting parts of a holiday is the potential for a little flirtation and fun with random foreign strangers named Julio and/or Pierre. Or more like Johannes (I was in Austria). The aforementioned appearance issues obviously cause some problems in this area, and not just with your own looks but with scouting out potential partners too. It can be very difficult to tell apart hundreds of people wearing puffy outfits. While on this topic, I’d just like to say: please boys, no onesies. We are not, nor have we ever been, attracted to the Teletubbies. An additional obstacle is that during a day on the slopes, the only real place to meet new people is on a ski lift. Now you might be thinking, “That doesn’t sound too bad at all – a quick friendly chat in a romantic setting”. Well sure, that could happen. Or, as in my case, you could end up sitting next to a middle aged man who won’t stop laughing manically to himself (until you ask if he’s alright and he says “I’m just reeeally enjoying myself…”) Ultimately, having only ever been skiing with my family, I can’t really comment on the shenanigans that take place when going with a group of friends. However, I can confidently say that any hopes you may have of a friend/potential love interest finally noticing your true chemistry are much more likely to be realised on a beach than on skis.
The Evenings: I include this section as I am aware of the fact that on university trips there is an expectation that after a hard day of snow sports the way to relax is to go to a nightclub. Call me quirky but this sounds like my own personal hell. Don’t get me wrong; I love to drunkenly dance the night away as much as the next person, but doing so after a day of sport is absolutely unthinkable. Even more baffling, is the culture of dancing in clubs on the mountain still in full snow gear (because apparently some of us just don’t work up enough of a sweat). In my mind, the only acceptable post-ski activity is lying perfectly motionless on a sofa. If you’re imagining a cosy snuggle-up-by-the-fire-and-look-at-the-beautiful-mountains style evening, you may still be disappointed. It will probably end up more like a don’t-touch-each-other-and-argue-over-who-will-cook evening.
(and I add this slightly random one only for the sake of total completeness) The Skiing: Skiing is Ok.
And there it is: that, friends, is the unspoken truth about skiing.
I sincerely hope that this is not too off-putting. If you don’t care about items 1 and 2 of this article (but I mean, who even are you?) then go on right ahead. If you ski because you actually particularly enjoy sport, then I think it is clear that we cannot have any kind of productive dialogue so please stop reading. And finally, if you simply want to try something new, I don’t mean to discourage you; I simply want to ensure that you are aware of what it is you are getting yourself into. Enjoy the slopes kids.