Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Ski Experience Part I

During my growing up years, I found out that athletics proved to be the weakest link in my system. It doesn’t go well with my taste buds in life’s choices of pleasurable activities. I am not thrilled with it nor do I have any tiny hint of affinity to physical vigorous dealings. Well, unless if it is the, back hump shaking in a discotheque.

So when I told everyone in the Dutch family that Dutchman and I are going to winter sport in January, almost all of them sat in silence, for a few seconds, with their opaque blue eyes suspended and their eyebrows parting a bit, just like how those midnight prowling owls behave when they see something that piqued their interest.

“Oh echt?!” [“Oh really?!”], sang the jolly chorus after the few seconds of countdown.

Even the Dutchman himself, kept teasing me mercilessly with corresponding gawky movements, of his arms, his legs, coupled with stretching out his butt, like a duck, in the hopes of comically exemplifying me with my skis up in the slopes. He said it’s supposed to be funny but I am not laughing.

The Dutchman, standing tall on his promise. Let’s see who will win this bet.

And because he was so damn sure that I won’t survive a whole week of skiing, he played his chances up, by convincing himself that I will bail out on the second day. That wasn’t enough; he challenged further my quality by placing a whopping € 200 bet on my head. Hmm, if that’s not a real case of chutzpah crisis, then I don’t know what it is!

I really think some people, rather, a lot of people, need the basic feminist lesson kit.

Being a feminine woman, remember not all women are feminine in appearance, that wears fashionable clothes, high heels, make up and also happens to not belong to any type of sportive club, including the trendy gym and yoga, doesn’t always necessarily mean that they are a coward bitch. Leave the bitch in there please but take the coward out.

The Gears

Anyway, seeing that the Dutchman already has his own snowboard gear [he bought them, I’m still reeking in envy], I am left alone, well not literally but between the two of us, to rent a pair of ski materials and ski boots.

There were abundant supplies of rent-a-ski stores in Zillertal and after canvassing [typical Dutch] a couple of shops and realizing that they have standard pricing all over, we decided to take the one very near to the lift and the parking area.

Posing with my gears in the plateau arena during a lunch pause and the second foto at Karspitz summit, ready for a downhill run.

It took us quite some time to figure out the right shoes that fits well with my two small feet. I got somewhat half disoriented on how tight the shoes must be because the Dutchman was nagging in front of me, repeating endlessly, “Ze moeten echt strak zitten!” [They must really fit well!] “ …en houdt er rekening mee, je draagt ze niet als dagelijkse schoenen.” […but keep in mind, you don’t wear them like your normal daily shoes].

How is this fitting the ski shoes done then?

The ski or snowboard boots must be at least 1 size smaller than your normal shoe size. When fitting on your choice of boots, you must wear ski socks in order to determine the right spacing of your feet inside the shoes. Bear in mind that you have to do the fitting while standing up and not by sitting. Next, you must feel the inside nose of the boots with your toes lightly kissing its edge. Then you put your weight forward on both your knees, with the end result of, you somewhat hanging to the fore. When you do that, you must feel some little space in between your toes and the inside nose of your boots, making you able to move your toes back and forth. This, as they say, is the good fit.

I’ve also heard this timeless wisdom of a litany a hundred times. “The ski or snowboard boots are the key to enjoying or wrecking your winter sport holiday!” from who else, the Dutchman.

I settled for a 22.5 centimeter size ski boots and a 140 centimeter skis. When we were wrapping up with the cashier, the Dutchman laughed heartily looking at the receipt. I found out that I actually have a super discounted price because both ski boots and ski equipment fall under the children’s special price.

I paid € 51 rent for 6 days instead of the € 90 set price for adults. Great deal, little me has an advantage then!

Down direct to the Red

Something I grieved over: With my couple of months of diligent burning my buns off at the Nieuwegein Ski Piste, I bitterly realized later that all what I have been through, was not really enough to be directly and cruelly initiated into the red slopes of the Austrian Alps. I had not an inch of an idea what awaits me, not with the Nieuwegein Ski Piste experience in mind.

Unaware of what I have to face in the next few minutes, I took myself to voluntary heights of pure enjoyment during the 15 minute lift ride, delighting and absorbing on the beautiful scenery of the Austrian nature... the white chaste peaks... the fresh scent of alpine trees. We do not have these in the Netherlands, so I must soak up in the experience.

The stunning panorama up in the Alps.

Upon arrival on top, I slid down from the lift, stopped midway a few meters away and savoured for a moment the wonder of being up in the summit with alpine glaciers staring parallel brazenly at me. How immaculate, how sharp, how intimidating, I am at awe.

Suddenly, strong gushes of icy wind swept the terrain leaving me partly frosted on the cheeks. I felt an abrupt chill so I moved slowly gliding my skis to where the people are standing and surveying. I thought, “Let’s get it done.” and the next thing I knew I was hovering over on the edge of a red steep slope.

“OMG!!! I will scale this down?!” I exclaimed unabashed, my composure sacking and the feeling of a tight sour knot has started to develop inside my stomach. The earlier chill I encountered haunted me back quickly, in multiples of newfound fear, coupled with indescribable spasm. All my Nieuwegein Ski Piste skills have totally vanished into thin air, replaced only with the growing and throbbing anxiety. Glub, glub, glub... pounds my heart.

Panic brewing in my head. More panic... “Damnit, I am not ready!!!”

My rational side picked the shredded pieces of confidence left. I knew the answer was nothing less than a YES I HAD TO SKI DOWNHILL because there are no lifts to bring people back down, unless I decide to walk the 30 kilometers of arctic runway. In other simple words, I have no choice.

So I collected myself bravely and tried to vividly scan through my Nieuwegein Ski Piste learned memory banks… the ski tricks, how to make turns, the right posture on a steep slope, etcetera. I took a deep breath and descended slowly.

If it was not because of Cop Sandy whom I met the other day, I would have not survived all the way down. She little by little guided and waited on me, as I slowly, yeah REAL slow, haha, progressed down on the series of 30 kilometers epic of red slope varieties. A metaphor in action, she is. Cop Sandy was my angel.

This is the mountain that I conquered. Those tiny dots and sticks are skiers and snowboarders. And the next picture is the training ground that makes you laugh: the plastic brush hill, Nieuwegein Ski Piste in Holland.

Later part of the day, we sat under the big pine tree in the arena, and I looked back at the snow capped mountains before me, with pine trees protruding like green fluffy needles everywhere. Wow... I still could not believe I scaled this intimidating white mountain down. In fact, it all felt so surreal in my head. Something kept repeating, like a chant behind my ears, “You-couldn’t-have-done-that-Miss!”

Skiing Supplements

The next day, my cerebral faculties were debating anxiously. Should I take further advanced ski lessons? Should I not? Should I just stay put first in the blue slopes and until such that I am confident enough, move over to the red slopes? But why the FCK no one told me that the red slopes are this steep!

Finally, the coast was clear. I will take ski lessons so I can join the ski marathon with the others later part of the week, but advanced ski lessons, since I’ve had a few already on my belt with [insert a sarcastic grin here] Nieuwegein Ski Piste. If you understand the Cebuano dialect in the Philippines, you can really say PISTE! [it’s a local curse word, lol]

I paid € 120 for 3 days equivalent to 12 hours, which I found quite cheap. That’s like € 10 per hour.

I was supposed to be with this advanced red team, but I was late and it seemed that they have left for the mountains already. This ski instructor in blue approached me asking if I want to join temporarily his blue team and explained that his group is really moving fast and many in fact are already advanced for their level. I didn’t want to wait out freezing in the cold so I joined them.

Well I was not wrong with my decision, he was a good one, patient in pointing out our mistakes, and well very important too, he was a charming gentleman. He spoke English to us since most of us were Dutch speakers [man, so many cheese heads walking around!], though at given moments, he spoke alternately in Deutsch because one of the students was a German lady.

I think my impression of Austrian men have just been positively stamped with flying rainbow colors of approval because of this ski instructor’s exemplary and judicious example. Oh, he also has bright, deep sea, blue eyes.

The deep sea blue eyed Austrian ski instructor. And that’s me posing for a photograph.

The Dutchman interrupted my fleeting reverie and loudly announced in a sleazy gruff tone in front of the Austrian ski instructor, “Be careful of ski instructors…” followed by a smirk, nodding of his head and a quick wink from the corner of his right eye. I knew this perennial joke very well, so I giggled and laughed, well we both did. Too bad, the ski instructor didn’t understand a single thing!

The joke or stereotype is this, ski instructors are widely known as promiscuous men thriving on their ski expertise to attract the opposite sex.

The explanation is quite simple. Time and time again, the playful attraction between a teacher and a student arises, and since the ski school isn’t a pedagogic institution highly acclaimed to stand steadfast to its so-called morals between student-teacher relations, thus the act of harmless flirting, easily be consummated into the hot danger zones of passion.

Ladies, remember when you had your first male teacher in high school? I went to a private all-girls school and I can only marvel the harassment our first ever male teacher experienced. The Catholic German nuns decided that he was to be the only and the last male teacher to come! Well the dork was a celebrity even if he only had very average looks. And since we only see skirts the whole day each day, we became male hungry high school kittens and feasted on him like he’s Scott Baio’s twin brother [1980’s rock!]. Sadly, we couldn’t touch the poor thing because his ardent girlfriend was religiously picking him up in school at the end of the day. Very clever girl!

It goes the same way with the ski instructor. The students do not really mind being preyed upon. In fact most of them would proactively invite it. This is how the modern fairy tale theory goes: Knight in shining skis shags the wannabe damsel skier in distress.

BUT! Our deep sea blue eyed ski instructor declared in a purposeful tone during a terrace session, “I am married. No smokes, no booze, no girls, no sex for me.” Hmm, he knew after all the stereotype... but we were wondering if we should believe him?

COMING up next: The Ski Experience Part II

Tags: Wintersport Holiday in Austria, The Austrian Way, Ski Myth

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