I have a love hate relationship with skiing and always have done. I have now learnt to love the challenge but still find it completely knackering. I recently went on a skiing holiday with my family, they are the only people I feel confident enough skiing with as they know how far to push my physical limits! I was nervous before we left as I have not skied in a long time and was worried that my family (especially my brother who is a very good skier) would take me down some evil looking run.
I definitely find skiing the most tiring of all exercise that I do in terms of working my muscles. This is because wearing the ski boots is like wearing my splints at all hours of the day. I wore splints (braces for my legs) when I was younger every day. The purpose of this was that as my muscles were growing my feet would be fixed at right angles to make sure I had to put my heal down first and prevent me walking on my toes. Over time, I was moved onto short splints which only came half way up my calf. Secondly the reason I find skiing exhausting is because I spend all of my time leaning back. This is because the tightness of my legs and hamstrings mean that I cannot lean as far forward. As a result my calves are in agony as the ski boots dig into the backs of my legs so much that I end up with two whopping black bruises on the back of my legs. I look as though I am sitting on a chair as I come down the mountain because regardless of how hard I try to lean forward, much to my frustration I cannot do it. Also contributing to my exhaustion is the fact that I am constantly falling over (even more than the 3 year old beginner on the magic carpet!) I fall so often because of both my balance and my very relaxed (and leant back pose) when coming down the mountain. The worst thing about falling is that the more I do it, the more tired I become and so the more I fall. It is a very vicious circle. I am now of the opinion that I have fallen so much that I am now an expert in this fine art.
This year, despite being worried about not having skied for a long time, it came back to me very quickly (as it always does). I was grateful to avoid the trauma of ski school this year. As a child, I hated ski school and had many a tantrum over this whole experience. This is because we would often ski with family friends. My younger brother head off happily to ski school, in the same class as our friends on some crazy off piste adventure and have an absolute ball. On the other hand, I found ski school simply embarrassing. As skiing has always presented my with a real challenge, I would always be put into a beginner class with children half my age. This meant that when my parents dropped me off, I would be towering over all my classmates whilst I waved goodbye to my parents and brother. We were then taken to spend the next three hours on the nursery slopes working on snowplough (when I knew that in the afternoon, I would be heading down red runs at a much faster pace!) The instructors used to sound like a broken record, constantly telling me that if I just leaned forward I would be fine (how little they knew!) I hated the fact that ski school would not let me ski with poles. I would demand that my Dad bring them along for me to use in the afternoons after the horrors of ski school were over. I now realise that this is because I use the ski pole as my third leg, propping me up as I head down the slope. There was one single occasion that I enjoyed ski school as a child with the wonderful Michelle. This ended up as a private lesson as we stayed on the nursery slopes whilst the rest of my class were taken higher up the mountain. Michelle and I would spend all morning pretending to be characters from Finding Nemo. She even wrote me a card to apologise for not being able to make my last lesson which I still have. I finally started to enjoy ski school when I was allowed into the adult classes. This meant that I was in a group with other adults who were skiing for the first or second time so I no longer had the embarrassment of skiing with a bunch of three year old bombers.
Strangely for me on my most recent holiday I got a massive sense of satisfaction from feeling completely knackered after a full day of skiing and I would not feel that I had a full on day unless I was completely shattered at the end of the day. I think this is a result of the hard work I have put in at the gym recently which means I now understand better my physical limits. This year, although nervous the first time we did it, I gradually became really keen on doing an off piste and black run that we found. I was keen to do this despite falling on every turn (especially on the super steep and mogglely parts of the run) but I just loved the sense of achievement when I made it to the bottom. This would not have been possible without the endless patience of my brother and mum getting me down. On one particular black run, with a very steep and moggley start, I found that I was so scared of turning that I would continue to traverse across the slope until I was definitely a long way off piste. This is because due to my weaker legs, I really struggle to make tight turns when skiing. Turns should help to control you speed but I find that when turning I take so long to get around the bend that my skis are pointing directly downslope for quite some time, meaning that my speed increases rapidly. Upon completing the turn, I am then travelling so fast that I am out of control and my only option is to fall over! My brother would be teling me to turn the whole way across the slope (as he could spot the nicest parts of the piste to turn on) I would just continue to ignore him, far too scared to do the big move. I then would end up well and truly off piste or on the edge of a piste so I had no choice but to turn in a very awkward place making my life a lot more difficult but who doesn’t love a challenge!
Another issue I had on this holiday was an excruciatingly painful shin when wearing my ski boots. This was unheard of for me as usually it is my calves that are dead at the end of the day. I think the pain in my shin this time was a result of my stress fracture I managed to get before going skiing, ill fitting boots and potentially actually managing to lean forward a bit more this time (this is what my parents said although I am not convinced!) Whatever the cause of the pain, it got so bad in the middle of the week before I changed my boots that I could barely walk in my ski boots. Despite this, due to my immense determination (and frustration at being in pain) I refused to stop skiing early (also because I didn’t want to make my family finish their day early for my benefit). I kept pushing through the pain and managed ot get through the full day- I think this is a result of my high pain threshold!
So all in all despite my nerves at the start of the holiday I ended up having a great time and hopefully this shows that although something might be challenging and scary it is possible with the right amount of determination and support. Give it a go you may surprise yourself but what you can achieve.