Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Going faster than my skis

Let's just say I know people are not interested in my day to day activities while in Zermatt. You've heard it all before, and I don't want to watch your eyes glaze over with boredom! But if you want a place that is pretty, stylish and expensive, it's the place for you. The skiing is wonderful,with 360 Km of pistes and masses of off-piste if that's your thing. After the Michael Schumacher incident, you'd think many would decide to stick to the groomed runs, but from the chair lifts we could see slope after slope covered in ski and board tracks all heading off into the unknown. One pair of tracks disappeared over the edge of a cliff - goodness knows where they ended up - especially as I think it was an area designated to wildlife. If they survived, and got caught, their lift passes would be revoked. We stuck to the corduroy where the piste-basher had flattened the snow, so we didn't go and peer over the edge to see if they'd survived.

The prices are high, as everyone complains, but you get quality in everything in return. A plate of frites cost 8.50 Swiss francs, a beer 9.50, so at an exchange rate of 1.4 francs to the pound sterling, lunch on the mountain every day cost around £12. Expensive, yes; but consider we were at  at 8500 feet up a mountain; the chips were freshly cooked,  hot and crisp and the bottled beer straight from the cooler. With the sun shining, we sat on the restaurant  terrace, a rug over our knees as we ate and watched the antics of the kids on the nursery slopes outside the Riffelberg Hotel or turned the other way to gaze at the Matterhorn. We could have bought a bottle of Moet & Chandon instead of beer if we wanted.

After four days skiing I found I was going faster than my skis. Tired muscles didn't hold the turn hard enough and I went straight on while my skis valiantly tried to turn down the slope. Result? I shot forward, planted my face in a pile of snow. Neither ski came off and I rolled upright, unhurt. A German gentlemen stopped, regarded me and asked 'Gut?'
I stopped trying to claw the cold snow out of my eyes, smiled through the white stuff covering my face, hair and sunglasses and replied. 'I am good.'

He grunted in satisfaction, whirled  to face the downhill slope, and raced off. But I couldn't get to my feet. As I struggled, a large male skier travelling at speed shot over the hill, saw me, squawked and shot by a mere two feet away. I think I murmured something endearing like Bloody Fool! to his retreating back. He was no doubt swearing under his breath about females who fell and didn't get their backsides out of the way. In the end I took my skis off, dragged them to the side of the piste and then spent five minutes struggling to re-attach them. Those tired muscles again.


Ursula Thompson said...

And those little incidents are exactly the reason why I don't like skiing. I had to try it as a teenager (school event), and I haven't been on skis since then. But then, I'm not a sports person anyway.

Jen Black said...

But isn't horse riding a potentially dangerous sport, too? I hear of more people in wheelchairs because of horse-type accidents than I do for the ski type.