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Julz’s World: Falling For The Snow

I’ve come to the conclusion that snowboarders are crazy.

Every inch of my body aches from head to toe. Even the areas between my bruises are sore. My muscles ache so much I can barely lift my arms to get dressed in the morning. And I’m walking in such a peculiar fashion, I’m paranoid people are going to start gossiping about what I’ve been up to.

Yep, I decided to force myself to have a snowboard lesson before my last ounce of courage went the way of my co-ordination and balance and took flight completely. Skiing and snowboarding are so much a part of the Swiss culture, it’s socially unacceptable to admit you can’t do either. I finally got sick of people looking at me like I’d crawled from a sewer and arranged a day trip to Avoriaz in France.

Things appeared to get off to a good start when my friends and I were introduced to our instructor, a veritable Chippendale on a snowboard. The mountain itself was very picturesque but – gulp! – rather high.

I knew the second I strapped one timid foot into the snowboard that this was not going to be a successful outing. It felt so unnatural. Just walking was a mission and I looked far from glamorous with my legs twisted in different directions, my arms flailing around, my face contorted in frustration.

Secretly I pondered how long it would take before Chippendale man got fed up and gave up on the hopeless case before him. It didn’t take long.

“Why did you fall?” he demanded for the seventh time as I crawled on hands and knees across the snow (I couldn’t master standing up either). “Because I didn’t want to go fast!” I cried.

So began a rather tortuous pattern. I would snowboard one or two metres, start to turn, have a flash of panic at the thought of an uncontrolled high-speed fall, and instead collapse in a dramatic heap in the snow on purpose.

The dizzy blonde routine frustrated Chippendale man and he decided I wouldn’t be able to cope with the learner’s slope. The learner’s slope! He left me on the pathway and took my friends further up the mountain.

After pouting in feigned distress, vigorously brushing the icicles from my hair and glaring at anyone who dared look my way, I eventually trudged back up the pathway slope and decided to master the art of turning if it killed me.

Barely metres away a proud mother photographed a toddler on skis. The little tot sucked a dummy and posed quite happily. Then the mother announced it was time to start skiing and the baby began crying hysterically. I sympathise completely.

Mind you, I guess if I’d learned as a child I wouldn’t have this all-consuming fear of my legs snapping in half now. Even my instructor conceded he first had ski lessons when he was 18 months old, then moved onto snowboards at the age of 12.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore the mountains and I love the snow (especially when I’m sneaking it down friends’ shirts). I just think that if people were destined to go careering down mountainsides at high speed, we would have been born with boards instead of feet.

I guess the perfectionist in me just can’t cope with the concept of failing at something. Everyone says you need a few lessons before you adapt to snow boarding, but I have this niggling feeling I won’t learn the skill after 100 lessons. And rather than find out for sure, I’ve handed in my snowboard and decided to enjoy less adventurous pursuits. Like reading about the mountains. At least the only pain I can suffer from that is eyestrain.


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