We’ve all seen the scenes in James Bond movies where our favourite agent (spy, not real estate) escapes the gun toting evil henchman by skiing down a mountain. Despite heavy gunfire and plenty of rocks, trees and crevices that obstruct his path he manages to evade the bad guys every time, even skiing through an avalanche. You probably watch theses scenes and think, “Skiing seem so easy. Even the bad guys manage and we all know how competent they are.”
This is where you would be horribly wrong. Not about the bad guys – by now they really should learn that a spy who has survived hundreds of attempt on his life is a slippery character. But standing upright on two thin boards and gliding down a slope is far trickier than you may realise. Over the past few weeks I have been attempting to learn how to ski.
I have been preparing for a year-end tour and hope to learn enough about skiing so as not to have to claim on my travel insurance. My progress so far has been acceptable. If the Dolomites in Italy are only about fifteen metres high and have a very slight gradient, I should be just fine. Anything higher and steeper and I may be a crash test dummy.
Lesson one was akin to learning to ride a bicycle. Nothing felt natural, I was as balanced as an inebriate after happy hour at the pub and the simplest task, such as coming to a stop, seemed like a foreign concept. But never underestimate pride as a motivator. The ski school I went to is next door to a popular health club and I had my fair share of spectators. I just know that each time I went down the slope at least one of them hoped I would fall. In fairness, I felt the same way while watching them run on the treadmill. I resolved that if I fell it would be such a spectacular spill that anyone watching would kick themselves for not having the presence of mind to film a Youtube clip. You look silly falling over while standing still; you look like a hero when you tumble all the way down a slope.
An even bigger motivator is fear. You may look cool tumbling down that slope but most indoor arenas uses an Astroturf-like floor covering, and carpet burn is no laughing matter, unless it happens to somebody else. On the occasions where I have fallen and scraped skin I tell myself that the fall I once took on my bicycle was way worse, though no one was around to see me faceplant into tar. It’s a pity because I am sure that when I struck tar I invented new expletives which I forgot once shock set in.
If you stay in Gauteng but want to learn how to ski like Bond (and fall like the crew of Jackass) these are some ski schools worth contacting:
The Ski Deck – based in Randburg. They have a machine called “The Sky Tek Power Carver” which, I am told, is like a treadmill for skiing.
Avalanche – based in Fourways. They offer bumboarding too. It seems easier than skiing though less likely to produce mishap clip worthy of Youtube.