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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Indoor vs outdoor skiing

Well this week hasn't quite panned out as planned but it has been really good, nonetheless. As I arrived, puffing and panting at the T-bar lift station after my first run on Sunday morning, I remembered that outdoor skiing is totally different from indoor skiing. I also realised - and it totally took my breath away for a moment - that I haven't skied outdoors since winter 2011/12. I used to try to brush those emotional moments away but I have begun to realise that I need to experience them. They are part of the adapting process.

On Sunday, I had a teacher (from DSUK) called David and a helper called Tim. Really nice guys! They got me all kitted out with the model up from what I use at Xscape, the Biski Dynamique. It's like the Unique but with better suspension. In terms of skiing though, it felt very similar. I had another lesson on Wednesday with Peter but no helper, so Andy helped us out with the lift rig. Peter really made me work hard and let me feel the consequences of my good and bad skiing.

So these are the differences that immediately spring to mind between outdoor and indoor skiing.

1. Weather - I think it would be fair to say that Sunday's weather was challenging. It was hit and miss as to whether we would even get out on the mountain but the lifts were open so we got lucky. It was really windy with big gusts and that had an effect on temperature with wind-chill. For some of the lesson it was also hailing. Of course, that makes planning your route and turns more tricky. It also makes it feel more real. I love the feeling of the wind biting my face! It does something to my adrenaline levels and makes me feel alive.

2. Slope length - I don't know how many runs I get in at Xscape in an hour's lesson. I'm guessing between 8 and 10. On Sunday, I got 3 runs in 90 mins and on Wednesday I managed 4 in 2 hours. That's because everything is longer, a lot longer. I realised on my last run on Wednesday that I was really tired and I had to stop for a few moments half way to take a breather. It takes a lot more stamina to do long runs, even though the lift is also longer, giving a brief rest period.

3. Routes - At Xscape, there is really only one way down. You don't really have to plan much except for when to start so you don't hit a crowd. On Wednesday, we didn't have a helper so I didn't have anyone to follow. I'm awful at remembering routes and I took a wrong turn. As soon as I realised, I stopped, thinking Peter would help me get back on track but he didn't. He made me ski it, even though it was really narrow. I had to do really tight turns to keep my speed down, which was difficult but I did it and as well as learning to turn better, I also learned to plan my route more carefully.

Photo of me in the Biski Dynamique, at the top of the slope

Photo of me and Peter (teacher) getting ready to get on the lift

Whilst I was disappointed that Monday and Tuesday's lessons were cancelled because of high winds, I am glad we came and I do feel that I have learned a lot and achieved something. I've just realised that I never posted after my last lesson at Xscape. I had a big crash and injured my right elbow. I thought I might have broken it but fortunately not. It's taken a good 6 to 8 weeks to heal and it really scared me. This was my first time back skiing since then. I was very nervous on Sunday morning but I did it anyway and I feel much better again now. I'm still undecided about whether I want to go off-tethers again, as they would have probably stopped me getting so badly hurt. I'm also undecided about whether to transition to a monoski. What I do know, is that I want to continue skiing, as it makes me feel alive and exhilarated and it's really good exercise.