A Weekend In Gressoney

Sunday, 24 January 2016

My skiing experience began with a small meltdown in Decathlon the night before my flight.
I'm not the kind of girl who frequents places like Decathlon. Stick me in a Topshop and I'm happy as larry. Decathlon? Nah. Bargain buckets of waterproof socks and thinsulate gloves really don't do it for me.

Who knew there were approximately 14 different types of fleece snood on offer? Or that ski gloves were so thick you could barely wiggle your fingers in them? Would I be a size 4-6 in socks? Did it really matter what thermals I wore? Was I even going to enjoy this experience one bit?

I was the kind of girl who'd lie about having a stomach ache to get out of PE. I've never owned a *proper* pair of trainers in my life, and I don't have a gym membership. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind being healthy - it's just that I've never enjoyed any form of sports.

Hence why, when I climbed aboard our flight to Milan Malpensa, surrounded by work colleagues (many of whom frequently ski for fun) I felt a twinge of nerves that not even my three plastic cups of vodka red bull could mask (shout out to BA for free alcohol on flights).

I'm pleased to report that all those nerves were entirely unnecessary.

Okay, so I wasn't a *complete* pro from the off - when I first clicked my skis into place I had a slight Bridget Jones moment, drifting off towards the thin net fence that separated the beginners class from a steep double diamond hill, thinking omg, this is the end. I'm going to die on a company ski trip, how embarrassing.

But once I got the hang of the ski plough (and had been shouted at a few times by my tough-love instructor Antonella) my fears dissolved and I was going down the slopes without a) wanting to do a little cry or b) clinging on to any of my friends for dear life. I was actually *okay* at skiing. I didn't even fall over once.

Celebrating with an ice cold beer in a nearby lodge after we'd peeled off our layers of sweaty ski clothes, my beginners buddies and I made a pact to ski down a blue slope by the end of the weekend.

I'd like to say that we didn't ski on day two because we were too busy exploring the town, getting to know the locals and picking up a bit of the language. But that would be una bugia (a lie). Really, we were cradling massive hangovers after an all night party with the foreign offices in the hotel bar. Day two was all about giant pizzas and hitting up the spa. Sorry not sorry.

On day three, we stuck to our word and gingerly climbed inside a cable car which would take us to the top of the mountain. If I'd felt out of depth on a baby slope by the hotel, this was a whole other ball game. You couldn't walk five steps across the snow without some sort of pro skier in an anonymous balaclava whizzing past you. Heck, even the kids were pros. I'm pretty sure I saw a child skiing down a black slope, but it may have been a very small adult. Or a mirage.

To get to the top of the blue slope, you had to get on a ski lift. If you've ever been on a ski lift before, you'll know that climbing on one isn't the most graceful of tasks. You sort of have to stand and wait for it to pick you up, sticking out your bum and awaiting the impending OOFT you'll let out as the metal whacks against your legs and you're thrown back into your seat.

Once aboard though, I felt calm. Ready. LET'S DO THIS, I told my pals, as the top of the mountain loomed ever closer. We lifted the safety bar. We were ready to go.

What happened next is going down as one of the most hilarious moments of my life.

We hadn't realised that once you get off the lift, you go straight into a very steep, very icy slope. The kind of slope you couldn't brake on, even if you wanted to. We were mid-conversation, awaiting a nice gentle ski down the mountain, then BAM - we were shooting down the hill like a bullet.

My skis were OUT OF CONTROL. If I wasn't Bridget Jones-ing before, I certainly was now. Adrenaline kicked in, and I suddenly started hysterically laughing. I just COULDN'T get control of my skis, yet I somehow hadn't fallen over. I must have looked hilarious. I managed to glance sideways at Maddie, and I noticed she was laughing too, tears rolling down her cheeks. A further glance showed me that Megs hadn't even made it down, she'd completely bailed as we came off the lift. I completely lost it. Try to imagine what it's like: bent over laughing, but trying not to DIE as you ski down a steep icy hill.

Look, the important thing is that we made it out alive.

SOMEHOW, we all got to the bottom of the hill without any injuries (unless you count a slightly bruised bum for Megs). We awarded ourselves with a round of Bombardinos - a mix of eggnogg and brandy served hot with whipped cream on top. These things were strong. I don't know if my stomach just couldn't handle any more alcohol after three days of wine, rum, vodka, Jagermeister and more rum, but I just about managed to devour the whipped cream, and that was that. Still, great picture op though.

We made it down said perilous blue slope a few times without anyone crying tears of laughter, falling over or losing control of their skis. Satisfied with our efforts, we hopped on the cable car back to the hotel to get ready for our coach to the airport.

I could have stayed in Gressoney for weeks; harnessing my skiing skills, dancing to cheesy Europop in the hotel bar, demolishing pizzas bigger than my face and attempting to down Bombardinos without wincing. I never thought I'd enjoy the experience so much, but I'm already itching to go back and click my skis into place.

I guess those Decathlon thermals will be getting more than one use after all.

1 comment :

  1. These photos look amazing! I'm so jealous you got to go skiing, I went last Christmas and loved it but we couldn't fit it in this year! x