Husband and I have been skiing together for 4 years this year. The deal is that he can ski where and when he likes while I go to ski school, then we can ski together later on in the day if I have any energy left.
This is done for the sake of our relationship. We both want to enjoy our holiday together and I don't think it would be much fun if we were falling out with each other every 20 minutes for 7 days!
So ski school it is.
And fantastic it is.
In our first year we were in Austria and it was great a good mix of ability and plenty of people who spoke English. The last 2 years we have been to France and I have found myself the only English speaker in a group of French novice skiers. Which in itself has presented challenges for the instructors who aren't necessarily fluent in English themselves.
So the lessons will take the following pattern: there will be a fluent French version with actions and pictures drawn in the snow and plenty of enthusiastic head nodding by the various French students.
Then a shuffling/slide slipping (if you want the technical term!) as the red coated ski instructor makes his way down the line to the short, grinning amatuer. Where we then go through the same series of instructions but with less talking and more animation as they charade their way through how to pole plant (how to use the skiing sticks for any non technical skiers reading this).
Last year there were not enough students available to make up a class so I got some private lessons, some of which were shared with Anton, another French (non English speaking) ski student. It was the perfect relationship for about 3 days- taking the same format as the previous lessons. So I also got a private one on one lesson.
The results of which hugely impressed Husband. My progress as a result of those sessions in his mind was SIGNIFICANTLY improved. Seriously.
So I should tell you about Jo-Jo my jolly giant of a ski instructor. The best instructor I have had to date, and given my 3 weeks worth of lessons I somehow consider myself a kind of expert on these things. Although to be honest I might have to learn French one year so I am less ignorant with the whole language barrier thing!!
Anyway back to Jo-Jo, who taught the French junior ski team and used to be a banker before giving it up to work in the mountains as a ski instructor. Ah the life! He is also a giant, a great big barrel of a man with a loud booming voice to go with it. So no matter if you are next to him or at the top of the hill waiting to ski down its all done at the same volume.
As we started out on our first session he wanted to get the measure of my ability which meant watching me ski and seeing how I took instruction.
In the particular region in France where we were they have a round circular cheese which is fantastic melted with bit of bread to dunk in. Some might call this a fondue! And I was told to turn so that my skis don't cut into the cheese and leave a perfectly clean half circle. . . The shortcut if I was doing badly was to bellow at me
" CASS, YOU MUST RESPECT THE CHEESE!"
Another wee gem he gave me was to shout:
"CASS, I DID NOT THINK YOU WERE A MUSLIM- WHY DO YOU PRAY WHILE YOU SKI?!"
Which to be fair I am not. A muslim that is. But I was most certainly praying. By straightening up not only was it more comfortable I also felt like I was going faster . . . so I started to pray a bit faster.
The reason, in hind sight, for skiing in a stooped manner is possibly something to do with bringing my body a bit closer to the ground so that in the event that I fall I have less of a distance to go before hitting the ground.
Ever the optimist.
To be fair to me I haven't taken any serious tumbles but then I am a slow and steady skier!