Sunday, March 22, 2009
That was probably the best week's skiing DS & I have had yet.
Not just because ski-selling & ski-hire shops have at long last stopped insisting on kitting me out with skis longer than my one-week-per-year ski muscles can handle.
Not just because we no longer need to take kids to ski school at 10 o'clock, collect them at 12, take them back at 2, collect them again at 5, leaving no time to cover much ground – these days we catch the first lift open & ski all day with just an al-fresco lunch pause in any piste-side panini terrace we come across.
Not just because we no longer need to go in school vacation time, when the traffic jams on the roads are horrendous & the ski-jams on the pistes & queues for the lifts are painful – a couple of weeks later, there is all the room you could want, no waiting & it's much cheaper too.
Not just because we were in a typical French purpose-built ski resort, which has none of the warmth & charm of a Swiss or Austrian village, but compensates by allowing you to ski to & from the apartment door.
Not even because we were in Les Arcs, which is particularly well organized for interconnecting lifts & pistes, and is now connected to La Plagne by the world's biggest cable car to give even more scope.
Nor just because this year has seen exceptionally heavy snow falls, so that there was plenty left even as Spring arrived.
No – the main reason was that in 6 days, we had perfect blue sky & sun for all but a couple of hours and the sun was only behind significant cloud for about 20 minutes.
For somebody with my non-athlete muscles, this makes all the difference.
So long as I can see very clearly all the up-coming bumps, dips, icy bits, different surface textures etc, then I can ski reasonably well & without too much effort or risk.
As soon as direct sunlight is replaced by diffused light, then all the surface detail disappears & the brain is unable to prepare the muscles for what to expect or what to do next.
The result is a huge rise in muscle tension & reduction in safety margin, so that when I can't see very clearly then frankly I prefer not to ski.
If I have to, then I only ski very very slowly.
What surprises me is that nobody else seems to react the same way.
Other people flash through the white-out as fast as in bright sunlight.
I wonder if they are supermen or just the same people who keep their speed up in motorway fog?
Parting thot: "Don't look where you fall, but where you slipped." – African proverb