How To Suck At … Skiing

photo : stuff


Skiing is to me what water is to cats. Thoroughly frightening.

So, misguidedly, when my friend suggested we go to Rainbow Ski Area for an adventure, I didn’t hesitate to agree.

Here’s how not to do it.

Step one: Attempt the big slope.

Nothing screams ‘incompetent’ like ditching the beginners’ slope for the experienced slope after two hours of eating snow.

The first time we attempted to T-bar our way to the top, we made it about 50 metres before nose-diving into the ground.

While my skiing partner Ali made it out on the plush side of the skifield, I landed a little too close to a gully for comfort, and ended up making a quick walk of shame back to base.

On our second attempt, we managed to get close to the top before veering into one of the T-bar’s giant beams – an action we then repeated our next go round.

At this point, we had fallen over more in one day than we had in our whole lifetime. But we decided to give the slope one last shot before heading off on the shuttle bus.

This time, we took separate T-bars. And while I made it to the top of the skifield, Ali fell off just before the final assent.

I started down the hill towards her, when an incident occurred …

Chloe Ranford tried the main slope after a morning on the beginners' slope. A few T-bar mishaps later, she made it to ...Chloe Ranford tried the main slope after a morning on the beginners’ slope. A few T-bar mishaps later, she made it to the top.

Step two: Break your skis.

Picture this: you start skiing and then go for a bit of a tumble. One of your skis somehow ends up coming off.

It lands a few feet ahead of you, and you spend about three minutes trying to moonwalk your way over to it, least you start sliding down a mountain flamingo-style.

You grab the unattached ski and line it up.

You try to remember the slot and click manouevre you’d done a dozen times that day.

But a blizzard had rolled in, people had ditched the skifield to catch the 3pm shuttle bus. After 15 minutes of frustration, you realise your shoe won’t fit into the ski. It just slides off.

Great, you think, I’ve broken a ski. This was me.

Ali had gone on ahead a small lifetime ago and there were few people around to help – not that anyone could do much.

After all, a broken ski is a broken ski. So, I did what any sane person would do.

I took off my surviving ski, gathered everything into my arms and started walking down the skifield.

Chloe Ranford thought she had broken a ski. She had snow packed into the sole of her boot.Chloe Ranford thought she had broken a ski. She had snow packed into the sole of her boot.

Step three: Get stuck in a blizzard.

OK, I might be exaggerating a bit on this one. It wasn’t a full-on blizzard, but it was enough of a snow storm to render my goggles useless – I couldn’t see with them on or off.

I was stuck in an ocular Catch-22.

The strong winds also had a habit of throwing my hood off, burning the exposed skin and stealing my ski poles.

Ali Angeloni regroups before taking another shot at the main slope.Ali Angeloni regroups before taking another shot at the main slope.

Step four: Get rescued.

For anyone who’s never walked on snow before, here’s a little spoiler for you: it sucks.

You get a few solid steps in, then – WHAM!

One foot goes knee-deep into the snow and, before you know it, you’re doing a one-legged squat at 300 metres.

After about five minutes of this, you start to question your life choices. For me, this meant a serious internal debate over the pros and cons of setting my skis down, side-by-side, and tobogganing my way down the skifield.

But before I could bring the idea to life (which is a shame), a Rainbow Ski Area employee pulled up beside me. “Hey there, are you alright?” he asked.

Half of me wanted to hug him – at last, help had arrived – while the other half of me wanted to dip into sarcasm (“Yes, I’m perfectly fine, hopping down mountains is my go-to”).

Before I could do either, his radio went off.

“There’s a young lady here worried about her friend,” it said. “Apparently she’s been up the mountain for quite a while and hasn’t made it down.”

Ali had called the calvary… albeit two minutes after it arrived.

“That’s me,” I cheered.

The man asked me what was wrong, and I explained my little ski dilemma.

He got me to lift up my shoe and give the sole a good hit with a ski pole. Snow and debris fell out.

“That’s probably what was stopping you from getting the shoe back on,” he said. He was right.

The ski slid on like butter and, with renewed energy, I skied down the mountain.

Rainbow Ski Area employees are on hand to help skiers out.Rainbow Ski Area employees are on hand to help skiers out.

Step five: Realise you’ve been using two different sized poles.

Celebrations were in order once I made it down to the Rainbow Ski Area base.

There were hugs, smiles and a whole lot of laughter. Things were made even more hilarious when I returned my ski gear to the hiring site, and the employee behind the counter held up my ski poles.

“You’ve got two different sized poles,” she said. It was true.

One pole was obviously about 20 centimetres taller than the other.

But, as they had the same coloured handles, I had (incorrectly) presumed they were a working pair.

And I hadn’t noticed the entire trip.

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