Whistler, whining and whiplash…
Off on our winter holiday. Leaving home for a two week holiday was really necessary, we were both needing to get away. To be honest, anywhere would have done, but we love Whistler. The only thing that would be better would be being 2 stone lighter and not having a recently ‘fixed’ knee! The beauty of the place is there’s enough to do and enough atmosphere, you don’t have to worry about skiing every day. Not that I could anyway, my knee won’t let me! See, told you there would be a whine.
Not letting that get me down, we ventured to our favourite holiday destination. ‘Come to Heaven and ski like hell’…. is one of the ways to describe this place. Us holiday makers really do know how to do it in style. The sort of ‘preparation’ for a holiday is the occasional right arm exercising (in the pub of course…..) and the sort of leg exercises that we do in advance of putting our bodies through the torture that is once-a-year skiing, resembles sock-picking-up and squatting over a toilet seat. That kind of covers it. Exercising in advance of a skiing holiday? Don’t be bloody silly.
I had made a wee bit of an effort though. I have lost some weight, done a wee bit of walking… it does help… it means that when you are bending down to clip your ski boots you aren’t split in half by your ski pants and my ski pants actually fit for the first time in about 5 years! In Ed’s case, he left his ski trousers at home. They are in the cupboard where he left them. Actually, I have to take responsibility because they were right next to mine. oops. Don’t tell Ed that though…. He had to splash the cash on a new pair. Hey, it’s about time he had a new pair of breeks, he’s only ever had ‘cast-offs’.
Quite honestly, part of the morning ‘warm up’ is putting on your boots. Thermal breeks on, trousers on, thermal top on, sit down, bend over, clip boots, heave a sigh of relief when that’s done. Stand up, take off one layer of thermals because the sweat is lashing off you. Try to cool down – unsuccessfully. Walk to collect your skis, putting on the layers that you have just taken off in the apartment, because you need them now. It’s cold outside. So, collect your skis. It’s busy in the shop, you have to wait. Hat off, scarf off, un-zip your jacket, waft your sweaty face with a handy brochure. Pick up your skis, walk out the door, plant your skis against the nearest pillar. Zip up, scarf on, hat on, gloves on …. walk up to the lift. Bend over to clip the boots up…. heave a sigh of relief, put the gloves on again…. Just getting on the lift, pull your goggles on because it’s windy. They get all steamed up from the huge warm up that you have had so far. Oh, to be a snow boarder.
Our friend Norman (*read: fit, athletic Norman – sic) was spending the first week with us. In usual ‘I am a man’ fashion, Ed and Norman hit the slopes first thing and made sure they were on the last possible lift of the day to the top the hill, so they could be last down. Ed, being Ed, the first morning was champing at the bit…. come on… come on…. Norman, a bit wide eyed and shocked said:
“I didn’t realise I was at boot camp. I thought this was a holiday!”
Needless to say I gaffawed laughing and sent them packing up the hill. I skied the first day, and really, my knee predicts whether I am going to ski the next day or not. It wasn’t going to let me. I went swimming instead. It was lovely, an outside pool. I was aiming for a 20 minute swim…. then I got chatting to a Canadian that came into the pool. Before I knew what had happened, I had swum for 50 minutes. Excellent.
Shopping in the afternoon, making sure there was enough jam for breakfast. Honestly, it’s now day 5 and an entire jar has gone somewhere. That and a litre and a half of natural yoghurt and 12 apples. Yup, healthy breakfasts. It’s been a bit of a shock to the system getting up before 7am and eating breakfast before half past. What the hell, I am on my holidays, not bloody boot camp. My tummy doesn’t know what to do if I feed it brekky before 10am. Just as well it is still on UK time then.
I just had to get a new knee brace. There is no way that I should be that sore after a days skiing. I took a wander into town, I needed to go there anyway, I had to get more jam. The next day, I joined the boys on Whistler mountain, meeting up at Chic Pea for a hot chocolate. The new brace was superb, so I just had to sneak off and have a wee run in the sunshine. What a day it was. Glorious. According to the boys, they were worried that I hadn’t turned up by 10.15…. oh, hey ho…. I was having a grin!
Anyway, it was the best days skiing I had had in years, I had a great time.
Then the boys decided to have a ‘day off’.
I can’t decide who was more surprised. Ed, not believing that it was 8am and Norman was still in his bed, or Norman getting up and realising that Ed hadn’t gone skiing. So, it was decided after 4 days of skiing from 8.30am to 4.30pm the pair were going to have a ‘rest’. I made a special brekky of scrambled eggs. Norman was going to refuse, however after the first fork-full, he said he was glad he changed his mind! This was our first ‘naughty’ breakfast of the holiday.
Then we had the debate. What did the boys want to do on their day off? Ed, that’s really easy, ice skating. No way was he going to bring his skates all the way to Whistler and not skate. Off to Meadowpark. Sorted. It was really quiet. There was about 8 of us on the ice, and it was ace.
After the ice skating, we decided that we should go to the supermarket in Market Square and wander back through the village in the sunshine, so that Norman could at least say he had ‘seen’ Whistler village in the day light.
Norman’s punishment of choice? Cross-country skiing, or skinny skiing as they call it here. WTF??? You can’t be serious.
“It’s easy,” says Norman, “If you can walk you can do it.”
Right on. After skiing, skating, swimming, and going to the gym (yup, I have been to the gym), I can assure you, walking was challenging. So we were going cross country skiing. Fan-bloody-tastic.
So, we decided after the skating, we would go back to Intrawest, have a ‘bitsa’ lunch and head out to the Lost Lake and hire some gear.
Snooze. It was 6pm. What happened, where did the day go?
Never mind, we still have time, we walked down the road to the Lost Lake. Hired the gear. Really, it looks easy on the telly. Surely I can do this. I have had skis on my feet since I was 4 years old, how hard can this be?
Don’t get me wrong, I have wanted to try out cross country skiing for ages… hmmm.
I don’t know if the wisest approach to any new sport is to try it out when:
1. You are knackered.
2. Your knees feel like they belong to someone else.
3. It’s dark.
4. You are clipping things to your feet that are about 2″ across that don’t work like downhill skis.
5. You get a 10 second briefing on how to ski, which involves a ‘keep to the right hand track, it’s 2-way’.
6. There are some lights around the track, but who are you kidding. No amount of lighting is going to convince you that this is a sensible thing to do.
7. The stars are out. It is 4.2km into the loop before you realise that they are winking at you. You are so busy trying to concentrate, you don’t notice that it’s a beautiful evening.
A quarter of the way round, and you are regretting the thermal breeks, the Craghopper top, the Jack Wolfskin fleece lined jacket, the polartec hat, the gloves and the thermal knickers. The sweat was lashing off of me. I stripped off my jacket and tied it around my waist. That’s about as far as I was prepared to go, Norman had a camera with him! It was pretty tempting to take off my hat and gloves, however, it was sub-zero temperatures, and I might have ended up in the Whistler Clinic after all.
There are some other things that must be taken into consideration:
8. Downhill skiing and cross-country skiing are only similar for the word ‘skiing’.
9. Skis for cross country are all different, some for going uphill, and others for, erm… other athletic things.
10. Just because I normally float over the snow on skis that are under 150cm in length, on downhill skis does not, I must stress this again: DOES NOT mean that when you go ‘skinny skiing’ the same gravitational effect takes place. Much shaking of head. No, short ‘skinny’ skis = slow skiing. No matter how steep the slope, it makes no difference. Slow.
11. Leaning forward on these skis does not mean ‘speed’. No, it means slow, stand up NOW or risk doing a face plant.
12. This is where the whiplash comes into the story, you are wheeching downhill so fast, you feel so out of control, you can’t stop, your feet are attached to 2″ wide ski, stuck in a rut, and a snow plough is out the question. A snow plough heading up the hill toward you all of a sudden sounds like a good plan. It could be the only thing to stop your downward fast momentum.
13. Because it’s dark, you feel like you are fleeing at 50mph down the hill. You are probably lucky to be doing 20. Still, whiplash is a risk, especially when you are rammed from behind.
Today’s word of advice is this. If you have men with you, who have longer skis, let them go in front of you on the track. When you don’t have enough experience, there is not a chance that you can drag your feet and skinny skis out of that rut when you ‘feel’ like you are heading down a hill at mach 3 with your pants on fire.
So, picture the scene:
Ed behind me.
Longer skis than me.
OMG, can’t get feet out of the rut.
What am I going to do…. there’s Fi…. Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!
Whack – rams me from behind.
FOXTROT, FOXTROT, SIERRA!!!
Bollocks. I fall down on arse. Just miss going down a banking on the right hand side.
Goddamn Norman, he had a camera.
Well, I ended up crying, I was laughing so much, then when I got up, I couldn’t decide if it was tears or sweat running down my face. Lying there on my ass, I couldn’t work out how on earth I was going to get back up. I hadn’t had the lesson on how to take my skis off….
All in all, it was really whiplashingly scary going down hill on cross country skis when you have zero way of stopping. Even worse was when the track disappeared, and it was an “oooohhhh…. ooh…. oh…. fcuk…. the tracks gone… skitter, slide, oh cr@p…..”
Fantastic. Loved it, can’t wait to do it all again. What will I do differently? I will take water, less clothes, and make sure that the men are in front of me.
Oh, nearly forgot. We were about 3.8km into the 4.8km circuit. Ed shouted to me, “Do you want a break on this bridge?”
“I think I need more than a break….!!”
“Aye, you need a Caesar
“Aye, a seizure!” says me…
Jane and Marie, I hope you read this in advance of coming on holiday, I think we could ‘do’ this. We could pack a picnic! (*read, wine and cool snacks). We will however, ‘do it’ in daylight.
Love Life. Love Whistler.