Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Ski Myth

The biggest myth about skiing or winter sport, deliberately assumed by many, which probably, could be the reason why certain individuals shy away from it, is that, IT IS ALL ABOUT THE SPORT AND THE ACTION. ---Well honeys, I’ve got some fascinating news to report, its WRONG! Perhaps it is in other parts of the world, but definitely NOT in laid back, carefree, culture rich and convivial Europe.

When Europeans think about winter sport holiday, they think simple, well, that is, in European ways... their frame of mindset leans towards the delectation of life’s leisureliness. An apt synonym commonly used here is this, holidaying.

The FOCUS as they say, is supposed to be the HOLIDAY or the TOTAL SKI EXPERIENCE.

Thus and is the reason why this whole winter sport shebang doesn’t revolve on the sport itself and its subsequent action alone. Daredevil antics such as flying mid-air, skiing off-route and vertical drops in kamikaze breakneck speed, are for the professionals, and though they may happen to amateur ski holidaymakers, still, you do not see a lot of these as a mainstream activity.

Both the acts of skiing and snowboarding are portrayed as casual and social features of winter sport [by products], just like going to a beach holiday in the south of Spain, people enjoy, they jet ski, play volleyball in the beach, get a tan and whistle at sexy clad girls in string bikinis. In this case, it’s the Alps with a different climate and environment to offer.

Most people also do not talk too much about the technicality of the sport and in fact, a number of winter sport holiday goers are just like me, not very sportive. This is not football people!

And something else too, but... sshhh... Europeans are somewhat self proclaimed supreme hedonist creatures. That’s why...

Sun terraces or pit stops, they are all over up in the Alps. Have you noticed how neatly everyone laid their skis on the ground in front of the terrace?

Here is another terrace-resto with typical Austrian design. This group of men is Dutch by the way; the one standing on the left was complaining that he fell down really hard. Dutchman and I were amused because his description of the incident was quite hilarious. He said, due to the fall his leg was stuck, like his leg had a huge erection. He added, looking seriously, that he would love to have an erection but not on his leg and not in this environment, ha-ha.

For a better understanding of winter sport in Europe, here is a schedule with brief details of how a typical day during winter sport would go.

07:30 – Wake up, take a shower and get ready.

08:30 – Breakfast time.

09:30 – Off to the slopes. The cable cars and lifts are usually busy after 10:00AM. People don’t rush early.

09:45 – SKIING and SNOWBOARDING time.

11:00 – PIT STOP BREAK: Rest in a sun terrace and enjoy a warm cup of tea, coffee, wine or beer. These sun terraces are usually brimming, especially if its the peak season [such as February].

11:30 – SKIING and SNOWBOARDING time.

13:00 – LUNCH BREAK: Lunch in a restaurant or sun terrace up in the Alps. From Italy to France, to Austria and Switzerland, the kitchen varies in cuisine, and of course, their lunch specialties and delicacies too. In that sense, one can combine the ski holiday with sampling and relishing on home-grown gastronomy. The French and Italians have longer lunches than say, the punctual Austrians and the Swiss. The frugal Dutch on the other hand, are known for their crude BTOP [bring their own provisions, ha-ha]. I’m not joking!

14:00 – SKIING and SNOWBOARDING time.

15:30 – PIT STOP BREAK or WRAP UP: Lifts and cable cars will be busy as people start to get down from the Alps. Some will stay for awhile in the sun terraces drinking a warm cup of anything while regrouping, waiting for their families and friends and also, waiting for the long queue by the lifts to disperse.

16:30 – PARTY: Après ski, my favorite! This usually starts off when the lifts close. Everyone will be partying, getting drunk, singing and dancing in their ski and snowboard outfits. Yeah, I’m not kidding, in those really hard to walk ski boots! On our first night, we had a couple of locals [or maybe they were Germans] dancing the traditional Austrian dance. That was fun but I kept wondering how uncomfortable it was with their ski boots. I wasn’t able to take a foto as the battery of the camera was again experiencing dementia attack [we’ve replaced them batteries now!].

18:30 – Go back to hotel or apartment to deposit ski and snowboard stuff and for some, shower or change clothes.

19:30 – DINNER time. Ah, this can be quite appealing as it provides the opportunity to collect and select restaurants, and well, to also exercise the food connoisseur in us. If not, one can always elect to shop for ingredients and cook in their apartments.

22:00 – NIGHTLIFE: Bars, pubs and discotheques are open to everyone. For the tired ones and families with kids, they either go back to their apartments and hotels to watch TV, play games or just rest to recharge for the next day.

The après ski parties in the grounds of Zillertal Arena and Mayrhofen.

The sun terraces breaks, the lunches, the après ski parties, the evening dinners and the nightlife entertainments; they are all fundamental parts of the European winter sport experience. They form a class of culture on its own, making it very distinctive in this part of the world... and something that I learned to delight in.

And my last repartee... is it then best to surmise that winter sport in Europe is 50% sport and action related, while the remaining 50% is geared towards the social, cultural and holiday mood?

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