Tag Archives: ski

Disappointments and small victories

11 Mar

I was so excited on Thursday because I was ready to tick off one more item off my #40Before40 list. Unfortunately, the paragliding we had scheduled to do in Iquique was cancelled because the wind was too strong.

I was disappointed but obviously in the interest of health and safety it was the best thing to do. The guy whose company it was actually explained to us the reasons why and said he really wanted to take us up there.

As a Brit, I find it a little bit strange that sports get cancelled because of weather, particularly “a bit of wind”. I’m pretty sure as a teenager that I took part in athletics competitions in hail and I definitely played hockey in 2 inches of snow.

We will try again at the next available paragliding place on our trip.

The bitter taste of disappointment was sweetened a little when we went sandboarding in the evening instead. If you know my #40Before40 list as well as I do, you will know that one item on the list is to try snowboarding.

Although they are not quite the same, it’s given me a bit of an idea about what I am up against.

I wasn’t 100% happy with the lack of instruction that we were given. Everyone else in the group had snowboarded before and I think that it would have been good to be able to have some tips of what to do.

It was quite exhausting because you had to walk up the sand dunes after every run and re-wax the bottom of the board with a candle before going down again. Obviously you don’t have to do this with a snowboard.

Also there was no aprés-ski available – no small bar at the bottom of the hill where you can get a beer or two. I will never not admit that I am more of a social winter sports person than any sort of winter sport athlete!

Still it gives me a bit of hope that I should be able to enjoy snowboarding to a small degree when I finally take the plunge and try it. That will have to be next season now as the snow will have gone by the time we get back. Only around 8 months to wait…

White Turf, 2017

15 Feb

On the weekend I headed to St Moritz for the first race day of White Turf. White Turf is an international annual horse race that takes place over three weekends in February. The event has been taking place since 1907.

This is no normal horse race like the Grand National and Ascot. The race takes place on the frozen St Moritz Lake. The horses are actually racing on snow and ice. In some of the races the jockeys are actually pulled along behind the horse on skis. It is one of those things that you need to see before you believe it. I have no idea who came up with this as an idea for these races but somehow it works.

img_4707

It really is mind-blowing that the races are being run on a lake. I have never been to St Moritz in the summer so I can’t imagine how it will look like in the summer. It is hard to visualise the whole area green rather than white – I have made a promise to myself that I will re-visit in the summer to compare the two seasons in the same place. Of course, there have been occasions when the races have been cancelled because the weather has been too warm and the snow and ice has begun to melt.

The races are always a spectacle, as are the spectators. For as far as the eye can see: botox, moon boots and fur. There are the occasional dogs in handbags as well if you look hard enough. So even between the races, there is entertainment on hand. You just have to look around.

This year in St Moritz the World Ski Championships are also taking place and in the stand behind us was some of the US Ski team who weren’t competing on that day. I can’t say that I recognised any of them. But it was possible to see the piste where the races took place from where we were in the valley.

This year I even had a flutter. I img_4702don’t understand the betting odds and I am pretty sure that they don’t work the same way as they do in the UK. Someone once told me that you should never bet more than you can afford to lose. I bet 5 CHF, the cost of a coffee. The race is infinitely more exciting when you have something at stake, even if the amount you stand to win is not all that high. I didn’t win though.

In April, I will be going to the Grand National in Liverpool. Although there is a chance that this race will also take place on ice and snow (you never know with the British weather), I will definitely be swotting up on my racing odds. Whether studying the racing form is better than just choosing a horse with a good sounding name remains to be seen….

 

To ski or not to ski: that is the question

4 Feb

Apologies to William Shakespeare but my question is a little less philosophical. Now that the snow has fallen this is the question that has been starting to bug me. I realise that there are a lot of people who would give their right arm to come and ski in the Swiss Alps. But for one reason or another, they never end up doing it.

Let’s not put too fine a point on it but the main reason is money. It is fair more expensive to come skiing in Switzerland than it is in the nearby Austria, France, Italy or Germany. For example, a ski pass for a day in Austria will cost you around 35 Euros and this could possibly be valid for several neighbouring ski resorts. In Switzerland, you are talking more around an average of 70 SFr. which equates to about 65 Euros or 55 GBP. This is before you even think about money for hiring equipment as well as money for food, refreshments and hotels.

Because of this reason, I always seem to find myself being guilt tripped in going. For me, although a weekend skiing is expensive, it is comparatively cheaper than it would be if I lived in the UK. So far, I have avoided this guilt trip.

One thing that is nagging at me is that I invested in ski boots at the end of last year. Invested is a grandiose word. I bought them second hand from someone who advertised them on Facebook. They  had been used less than a handful of times and I paid a fraction of the price that they would have been new. Everytime I go down to the basement, it’s like the boots are looking at me and telling me that they want to go outside and up the mountains to feel the fresh air and the powdery snow.

The thing is that I am just not into it like other people are. I have friends who go skiing every weekend once the snow has arrived and they can’t get enough of it. I am not like that. Not with skiing. I am very much a fair weather skier – I am not afraid to admit it. I love the feeling of coming down the mountain and seeing the blue sky and feeling the sun on my face. It can’t possibly not put you in a good mood. The snow blizzards, the poor visibility, the freezing cold: No, thanks! You can find me in a ski chalet nursing a Kaffee Schnapps instead.

gastronomy-260451_1280

Another issue is most of my friends are better than me. I end up not enjoying myself because I put pressure on myself to ski faster and to take risks that I don’t want to take. I’m more than happy to potter around on my own doing my own thing but I always seem to get persuaded into doing runs that are too hard for my liking and that’s when I end up frustrated, tired and wishing I was back at home with my feet up.

Having said all this, I do have a date penciled in to go skiing in March. Whether I go or not depends on the weather, visibility and where I can get a good Kaffee Schnapps!

Finally!

3 Jan

Finally, the snow has arrived! Of course, it was too much to ask for the snow to come between Christmas and New Year, when we were all sat at home with our feet up. Instead the snow decided to fall on the evening before everyone goes back to work. It’s been freezing for weeks with not a sniff of snow in the air and all of sudden it comes when you would really prefer it not to. But the day before the alarm clock goes off at 5.30am, the snow makes an appearance.

There was actually quite a lot of it. I only realised it had snowed last night when I was checking the weather app on my phone to see what the weather would be like on the first day back to work (and by that I really mean, how cold it would be so that I could already start to calculate how many layers I would need in the morning.) When I checked the app, it said that it was snowing. Even though it was dark , I checked outside and it was!

Back in England, I would have been tempted to work from home or just phone to say I wasn’t coming in because it was too dangerous to drive. That doesn’t work here. Last night they were already clearing the paths and gritting the roads and the pavements so that people would be able to get to work with as little stress as possible. At home, a light dusting covering the road surfaces will have people stressed out to the max or, even worse, driving on the road like a complete idiot.

snow-1940200__340

Brits complain every year that the country is ill-prepared for snow and winter weather but nothing ever seems to improve or even change just a little bit in the right direction. Un-gritted pathways can have you doing your best impression of Bambi on ice before you have even left the bus stop.

The good thing about having snow in the city is that it means that there has to be more snow up in the mountains. Good news. Many of the ski resorts are open but not completely and they can’t even produce “fake” snow to supplement the real stuff because it is too warm on the mountains for the snow to stay there and not melt. Not to mention professional skiing competitions that I have seen on TV where they seem to have piled all the available snow on the path that the skiers go down, with noticeable patches of green grass on either side.

Although I am not the greatest, nor the keenest, of skiers, I can imagine it is extremely frustrating for skiers and businesses alike who have been waiting for the last 9 months for ski season to start again. If more snow keeps coming (and it is forecast to do so), I might make the effort to head up the mountains and to put myself through the embarrassment and shame of my woeful skiing. Which I am only willing to endure because of the aprés ski!