I was a bit of a cocky four letter word to start off. I think it came from a childhood of rollerblading and the tip off that if you weren’t prepared to fall over, you’d probably still be walking the baby slopes by the end of the holiday.
I went to Bohinj, Slovenia, with three friends and the boyf to ski at the Vogel Ski Centre after investing in some cheap flights over there. Chloe and Stu were seasoned skiers, but me, Waiel and Adam had never tried it. We invested in a ski instructor called Andrej who turned out to be the perfect guy for the job. My favourite Andrej moment of the first day was him saying to me; ‘Do those two work in an office?’ when Waiel and Adam were struggling up the slope with their glasses falling off their faces, out of breath and not getting very far. I’m not mocking, there were plenty of times when I was in there shoes/ski boots.
Andrej taught me, Waiel and Adam how to stand confidently – always useful – and quickly moved on to skiing with one ski, then two skis, then the plough. Oh the plough, how I loved the plough. It’s where you just bend your knees in slightly and point your toes in to create more friction with the snow so you can slow down, and preferably come to a stop.
Waiel and Adam had a few difficulties with this so Andrej decided to leave them to it and took me down the green run. This is where I realised how terrified Waiel had been all this time in not feeling safe. I was terrified and just a few ski movements from the edge of a long drop. I managed to avoid it and stay straight on my path, so long as Andrej kept screaming ‘SNOW PLOUGH’ at me. Despite the snow and cold my ragged nerves meant I was overheating. I was scared stiff in the squatting position and holding my poles together in front of me while he pulled them and me down the slope as kids went whizzing by. I managed to make it down to the bottom after much coaxing and shouts of ‘COME ON WICKY, YOU CAN DO IT’ in my face. Not much time to enjoy the feeling of not sliding though, now it was time for the ski lift…
Thankfully, with Andrej’s help I managed my first ski lift just fine. Bit hairy when you have to ski off the end, but I did it!
Fast forward two hours, a few more runs on the green slope above with a few tips on the importance of turning, a huge pizza, some Jagermeister shots and a few glasses of the local wine Cvicek later, and Chloe took me up my first blue run of my life. I managed to battle the draglift with Stu’s help, arriving at the top in a tangle of skis and poles, but I’m sure that’s all part of the fun.
I’ve never seen anywhere like it. If I was going to break my leg, Vogel ski centre was a beautiful place to do it. It was hot and sunny on the slopes and the air was fresher than my London lungs had ever experienced. It was a shame I was too distracted by my fear to really enjoy it; my legs were quivering, or maybe shuddering, my mouth was dry and my head buzzing with the ski survival techniques I’d learnt that morning. “Follow me!” said Stu, whizzing by. I tried, if anyone asks, I did try.
I survived the first two turns veeeeery slowly but upright, then did a bit of a somersault slide to the left for the rest of the descent before collapsing in a heap just about where that flag is on the picture above. One of the ‘best’ things about skiing, I found, is trying to stand up once you’ve fallen over with your skis on your feet and on a slant. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was a good 20 minutes later that I was finally up on my feet.
Unfortunately that wasn’t it for that run, there were still two more hills to make it down. Including this one that looks horrific in the pic below. My heart was pounding out of my chest and my legs were still quivering, but I was high. It was such a buzz coming down. I managed the other two hills slowly, but surely, and without falling over. By the time I made it to the end of the run and off the lift, I needed more than a Cvicek to calm me down, but a few Jagers did it.
Learning to stand up on skis was amazing and Chloe and Stu pushing me to do a blue run was a big prop to my confidence, but I was feeling really nervous about day two. I really wish I’d never read about Natasha Richardson dying on the slopes, I’m overly paranoid.