I learned to ski during the week of my 40th birthday. It was one of those “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” moments and I’ve been making up for lost time ever since. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to ski with some amazing people and I’m happy to say I’ve found ‘my tribe’. We’re all roughly the same level, which is more by luck than judgement. The defining element which binds us together is a propensity to faff, head off to the loo, suggest coffee/vin chaud breaks and the ensuing panic attacks of misplacing vital equipment such as helmets and skis just as we’re about to head off. The reason we ski together is simple; no one else would put up with us.
Dom* didn’t ski this year, it’s too close to his ascent of Mount Everest and he couldn’t risk injuring himself. This in itself posed a bit of a dilemma. What, precisely should a girl do in such a situation? Why she calls up her ski buddies of course! So five of us booked onto a Spice UK trip to Morzine, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The key to any successful ski trip, apart from safety, is staying staying warm. You get to see some truly awful outfits on the slopes, and that’s before a group of Spicers turn up in fancy dress. In recent years youngsters have taken to snapping up 80’s-style all-in-one ski suits, for some kind of tongue in cheek ‘vintage’ pastiche, but a lot of the locals still wear their original purchases with pride, modelling fashions that Euros most definitely did not buy. Pity then the poor athletes taking part in downhill or slalom races, with just a thin covering of Lycra to keep them warm. On every ski trip we come across at least one group of skinny young things preparing for such a competition. A few years ago one of the ladies in our group announced that next year she would be fit enough and slim enough to don such an outfit and so the Lycra Challenge was born.
Has any of us completed the Lycra Challenge? Of course not. Every year we vow that ‘next year’ will be the year it will most definitely happen and the similarity to Del Boy Trotter declaring that “Next year, Rodney, we’ll be millionaires” has not gone unnoticed.
Fast forward to our recent trip. Our first day’s skiing consisted of the five of us; four women and Nick, the only male. As you can imagine, there was plenty of chatting and gossiping, and I think Nick was missing Dom’s company (or any man, come to think of it). Nick was doing a remarkable job in keeping Dom’s spirit alive; he’d hurry us along and encourage us to stop faffing, only too well aware that he was fighting a losing battle.
By day two Ben had come to ski with us and at lunch we met up with his partner, Nicola, who was enrolled in morning lessons. The Famous Five had now become The Magnificent Seven and our group was having the best of times exploring exciting new areas. Lunch in a French ski resort can be a fairly calorific affair and on staggering out from one lunch stop to discover the weather was closing in on us, we decided to make our way down to the Prodains cable car to cut out some of the slopes. The Prodains isn’t your normal cable car, it looks like two cabins have been stuck together, but unlike the massive tele-cabines that cram everyone in like a London tube train during rush hour, the inside is fitted out with seating, taking a maximum of 35 people. For a skier with weary legs, it’s a welcome break.
In we all pile, chattering loudly about the day’s adventures. Hazel, Jude and Mary seated on the bench in front of myself and Nick, with Ben and Nicola sitting behind us. Other skiers began to trickle in. I had noticed that amongst all the camaraderie, Nick was getting decidedly edgy and then he came out with something that Dom would have been immensely proud of:
“Do we need to re-distribute the weight?”
When I retold this story to Dom, his response was “I taught him well!”
Ladies, I think we need to up our game if we want to smash the Lycra Challenge next year!
*Dom most definitely does not faff, in fact he is the antithesis of anything faff-related.
Photos courtesy of Hazel Sherrington and Jude Mason.