IRIE NINJA

Austrian Achievement Unlocked – Schifoan!

So it seems I’ve fallen in love with a new expensive hobby and, in the process, even gotten a little more in touch with my Austrian roots.

Schifoan >> Skifahren >> Skiing!

While I have memories of White Christmases from the first 6 years of my life in Austria I don’t actually recall ever having been on skis as a child. But I know Austrians seem to consider learning to ski as important as anything else kids learn in kindergarten so I believe my Dad when he says he remembers me being on the bunny slopes at least once as a little girl. At any rate my goldfish brain has decided to forget any of that ever happened and the closest I ever got to skiing in Fiji was when watching a movie or reading a book about it maybe.

Of course I was eager to try winter sports when I moved here  and I even went snowboarding a couple of times with my flatmate after she told me it was very similar to surfing and I would pick it up quickly. Let me just state now, snowboarding is NOT like surfing and it’s quite an unnatural feeling having your feet strapped to a board and basically not being able to move them.

Unfortunately, going skiing or snowboarding has gotten increasingly expensive over the past years and most people I know here, besides some die hard winter sport fans, have hung up their skis and lost interest over the years. Something that has kind of been a bit of a recurring theme here for me – Most of my friends and family here have already done all the things that are still new and exciting to me and waiting to be ticked off my list. Whether it’s going to some local annual music festival, climbing a certain mountain or, in this case, going skiing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like no one ever wants to do anything fun, it’s just that sometimes it’s a case of ‘been there, done that’, and hey I get it. And because I didn’t want to put myself through the embarrassment of joining a beginners ski class with a bunch of 6 year olds who could probably already out-ski me anyway, I kind of just forgot about it.

That was of course until earlier this year when the subject somehow came up during a work function and a colleague of mine commented on how she couldn’t believe I hadn’t been skiing even ONCE in the 2 years I’d been here. “THIS IS AUSTRIA!”. She promptly announced that she wasn’t having any of it and that she would take me skiing if I wanted. Her enthusiasm was so infectious I instantly agreed as long as she promised not to laugh at me when I made a fool of myself.

So on the Friday of my birth week, we knocked off early, packed our gear into her car and drove to the nearest ski area – Kasberg. It was the first day that week that we had nice weather and when we got there I was super nervous and excited at the same time. Was I going to be any good? What if I hurt myself? I’d heard about how it takes just one bad fall when you’re skiing and next thing you know you’ve broken something. Was I even going to like this sport??

To her credit, my colleague was super chill about everything. I should add that she’s the type of person who goes ski touring at least once a week and, like I mentioned earlier, her love and enthusiasm for skiing is pretty infectious. So I pretty much just followed her lead the whole time – how to carry the skis on your shoulder, how to get on the gondola, how to get on the ski lift, how to step into your skis…all I had to do was follow her lead and I was fine.

We started on a bunny slope and she talked me through and demonstrated the basics – stance, moving, stopping and turning. I would listen and watch her and then try to copy whatever she just showed me. And so we made our way down that first slope with me only falling once. Back up the slope with the T-bar lift, which is an experience in itself for a first-timer and we repeated the process. I didn’t even fall the second time! Slowly we moved on from the snow plough position to bringing the skis parallel and working on cleaner turns.

We did a few different blue slopes (the beginner slopes) and yeah I fell sometimes when I got too excited and was going too fast, or when trying to practice carving turns, but for the most part, I WAS DOING IT! I was having fun and I was skiing! Sure I wasn’t the most graceful skier on the piste but I also noticed I wasn’t the worst so that was encouraging too. We spent 4 hours on the slopes that day and then it was time to pack it in. I was tired but ecstatic. I tried hard not to grin like an idiot when she told me she was impressed with how quickly I picked it up and that it must be in my blood. 😀

For someone who isn’t a professional ski instructor I have to say my colleague is an awesome teacher and at the end of the day I am so grateful to her for introducing me to this sport and being so encouraging and patient. I know now that skiing definitely has its hooks in me.

Learning to ski at the age of 25. Who said you can’t teach an old ninja new tricks? 😉

Learning to ski at Kasberg

Master & Padawan

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