My first skiing experience in Switzerland
Last night, I slept at 8 pm! I woke up this morning at 6 am with muscle pain all over my body like an aftermath of extreme gym session. My first impression of skiing? It is harder than it looks.
Friday, 17th March at 05:00
Let’s roll back. After three years of living in Switzerland and enough procrastination, I started buying some ski gears last month. It’s time to learn skiing. Herr Hallo booked a ski instructor, rented ski and boots the day on Thursday. At 05:00, we woke up to have coffee and small breakfast then left for Hoch-Ybrig at 06:30. First cable up to the ski slopes starts at 08:00. We were 1/2 hour early so we had coffee in the cafe near the station. I don’t feel particularly nervous about learning to ski but I was quite worried that I needed to go to the toilet for No. 2 during the session so I was quite glad that I did it after the second coffee. I felt relaxed afterwards.
We boarded the cable car and went straight to get our ski equipment. It was easy breezy, no hassle and quick. We had about 45 minutes before my class (at 09:15) started so we had a little time to learn the basic. Mainly getting on the ski without falling down. For a beginner, that’s quite a challenge because when you have ski boots on, it feels like you are wearing two block of concrete, one on each side up to your shins. When you are wearing the skis, you have to push down your heels to clip your boots on it. I have no idea what muscle is used to push your heels down hard but I know I have never used that muscle. It was difficult to clip my boots to the ski.
My instructor, K skied down the slope in style and greeted us. We introduced ourselves then Herr Hallo left us and went skiing. The first lesson was transfer. How to carry your ski on your shoulder and let it down so you don’t hit anyone while at it. K and I transferred to the beginner hill or in German, Idiotenhügel (direct translation: Idiot Hill). Don’t fret. Everybody starts at Idiotenhügel I guess. Lucky for me, the beginner slope was empty (at first).
The following lesson was how to move and walk with your skis. Wearing ski feels like holding a fish in your hands but the fish is under your feet trying to escape your grip. The skis want to slide off while you are standing on it. It felt very unnatural with these long attachments and concrete on your feet which you have no control of. In the beginning, we did a little exercise by bending the knee, not bending your hip but the knees! Honestly, I can’t tell the difference. I don’t know how to bend the knees without bending my hip? Besides, the ski boots make it impossible to bend your knees when your ankles are trapped in the concrete block (aka ski boots). Somehow someway, I knew how to do that further in the lesson. YAY!
09:30 to 11:15
In the Idiotenhügel, there is a magic carpet (surface escalator) to take you up to the little hill so you could ski down. We did that countless times. At the top of the hill, my instructor thought me how to walk up the hill parallel to the slope. It was a task. I started perspiring because those equipment attached on my feet felt heavy at first but it gets better after doing it more than 10 times, I promise.
The following and most important lesson is how to brake. PIZZA! or snow plough turn (AE: plow) where you put your ski tips together and the tails apart to form an A or the shape of a slice of pizza. This lesson, I can say I did good after several tries.
Soon after, a group of kids came to the beginner hills and I was no longer alone. If I needed to mention at all – Yes, I was the only adult. I started to feel a bit stressed out because of the noise, fighting for ascend on the magic carpet and mainly I was really scared to crash into these kids who were all over the place – which I did! When I tried my next trick which is making turns. On the first try, I turned right unintentionally and crashed into a little girl on the magic carpet. I fell down and my instructor had to lift me up. Getting up with skis attached is something I have yet to master. When I fall down, I am like a turtle upside down. No chance of getting up no matter how hard I try.
The two hours lesson was quite intense mentally and physically. Time past too fast and soon I bid farewell to my amazing instructor. I thanked him and exchanged pleasantry. He gave me some advise and went his way. The kids started to leave for lunch. I seize the opportunity to practise alone. Herr Hallo joined me soon.
After lunch, I took the ski lift up to the mountains (without skis) to check out the view and down again alone while Herr Hallo and Herr Hallo Snr. skiied down alongside me. From the ski lift, we saw that the beginner’s hill was almost deserted so Herr Hallo accompanied me there to practise even more.
At this point, I could ski down straight and brake. I understood to put my body weight on the front instead of leaning back which could result in a fall. However at this point, I still could not make turn. I don’t understand the technique of putting the weight on your left feet if you want to turn right. My body naturally put the weight on the right side when I want to turn right. It makes sense that way, right?
The next level from the magic carpet is a higher slope where you could go up by holding a rotating rope (see picture). I did it first time with my instructor and a few times with Herr Hallo. I fell down every-single-time. Although I kep my skis straight while going up the hill, the skis just want to go different directions. My instructor told me, I am the master of my skis but in my case, it is quite the opposite. Another problem with this rope is that once I was successful on it at certain height, I do not know how to get off it so I fall. When I fall, I grabbed the rope which makes thing worse. I am really glad that Herr Hallo is there to lift me up each time I fall or else I will be the overturned turtle and I will have to scream for help.
We wrapped up and headed home. I was mentally and physically exhausted. I was not getting any better the more I practise.
As I am writing this and recounting my experiences, I am really glad that I hired a ski instructor to get me started. It helps a lot as a beginner. My ski instructor was sympathetic, friendly and professional. At the end of the day, I feel quite content even though I still could not make turns.
Present, Saturday 18 March, 2018.
So here I am with aches all over my body. I learned that skiing requires A LOT more strength than I expected. It’s quite a workout. At first, it really feels quite scary because you can’t control the skis but once you have a bit more confidence, it gets fun. I watched some YouTube videos and would like to try some tricks I learned today. I am looking forward to the next ski trip so I could practise, practise and practise until I am good.
Do you remember your first ski experience? Or do you want to learn to ski? Would love to hear from you.
Till then, x Frau Hallo
P/S: We hiked up Hoch-Ybrig during summer. You can read about it here.