I’d been with my host family a little over a month when they invited me to go to a ski resort with them. I was excited about skiing for the first time but also a little nervous because a friend of mine from my home country, South Africa , had injured her knee quite badly while skiing a few years ago. Knowing just how accident prone I can be, I was worried that the same fate might befall me.
We arrived in Kläppen on a Thursday at around noon. From a distance we could see the majestic slopes covered in snow, the cables going up and the people who skied so gracefully and seemingly effortlessly. We made our way to the shop where we could hire our skiing gear. I felt cool in my red jacket, helmet, eyeglasses and gloves and kept posing every time I caught a glimpse of my reflection. I felt cool until I put my boots on. It felt as if they weighed 10 tons and they were a mission to walk in! I walked like a robot trying to do the catwalk in heels. I wondered how I’d manage to put on my skis and actually ski, when it was such a mission just to walk in my boots.
Fortunately, I soon managed to walk in my boots reasonably okay. For a moment, I stood at the exit and and just looked out. The snow looked less white behind my tinted eye glasses. I giggled a bit when I saw people around me doing the strange ski boot walk. My host mom helped me with my skis and held me up while I attempted to ski on the beginners’ slope. The minute she let go of me, I lost my balance and fell backwards. She and my host dad tried to help me up, but it was just impossible at first but they got it right eventually. The first day consisted of sliding, slipping and giggling. I just couldn’t get the hang of skiing, but I was okay with that because I was having fun.
There were more people on the slopes on the second day. Everyone looked like professional skiers to me, even the kids seemed to be doing it effortlessly. I started to feel very self conscious and extremely cold. I was relieved to discover the värmstuga (warm cabin), where I spent most of my second day. Every now and then, I’d show my face outside, slip and slide with the host kids and then disappear back into the värmstuga, under the premise of going to the bathroom.The highlight of the second day for me was the after ski party. There was live music, happy families and lots of dancing.
On the third day, I threw in the towel on learning to ski. I figured it was just not my thing, not my cup of tea. So when the host family went skiing, I had a lazy morning in our cute and cozy cabin. I did a lot of reading, went out for a walk and just took it easy on my aching body. My host parents were very understanding. Later on I joined them at the after ski party. It was awesome!
On the last day I didn’t feel happy that I’d given up just like that. I wondered when I’d ever get such an opportunity again. I figured I would at least give it one more shot. My host mom took me to a quiet but slightly challenging slope compared to the beginners’ slope I had been on the other day. She demonstrated what to do, explained the mechanisms and allowed me to practice without saying too much. She then went to a more challenging slope and the next family member came to help me. They all took shifts helping me and they were all patient and kind.
By the end of the morning I could ski! Sure I wasn’t too graceful and I certainly couldn’t ski on the difficult slopes, but I could ski! It felt awesome and they were very proud of me. We had lunch in a restaurant on top of the mountain. The view would have been fantastic had it not been for the thick grey clouds but we had fun nonetheless. We should have ended our trip right there on a high note, but no, I just had to ski one more time before we returned our ski gear.
I attempted to ski down a not so steep slope, my host mom eagerly waiting near the shop entrance and watching me. I’m ashamed to say it was a very clumsy attempt, I crashed into a cart and ended up flat on my face. Fortunately I remembered how to get up quickly. I then proceeded to make my way into the shop, quite nonchalantly while doing the awkward ski boot walk.