Wednesday, February 15

The clumsy on the hill

From my 2009 diary.

Early morning. I put on my brand-new skiing suit, pulled on ugly rigit skiing boots, loaded myself up with skis and poles, climbed into a tiny overcrowded bus and drove to the Elbrus area.

There an instructor took my group of newbies to a very small hill for beginners. He lined us at the foot of the hill and explained how to put on skis. That was a fun bit, because to lock a boot to a ski one had to insert the boot toe into the binding, then stamp the heel abruptly for the latch to snap the boot. Piece of cake! But the snow was so fluffy that the moment I stamped the heel the ski buried in the snow. I tried it a few times in vain and then decided to snap the latch with hands. I bent forward the latch, lost balance and collapsed in snow. Laughing came from other guys. Fortunatelly, I wasn’t the only one, who had such a cool idea.

As soon as everybody was ready, the instructor showed how to climb up the hill. Walking up the slope in the skis crosswise was easy on the one hand; and difficult on the other, as the boots were extremely heavy and not flexible. Somewhere in the middle of the slope we stopped and learnt the basic way of skiing called “to plough”. I did my best to ski down as slow as possible and kept weight between the skis all the time. Then we learnt how to turn and slow down. In an hour I felt like a pro!

I went to the top of the hill. From up there the hill seemed to be as high as the Everest and I was not as self-assured as at the bottom of it. Anyhow I collected my thoughts, stood in the plough, pushed aside with the poles and moved ahead smoothly. I thrusted my left shoulder, left knee and left ski slighly forward, they were followed by right shoulder, right knee and right ski. It was a perfect turn, when the skis suddenly accelerated. I failed to slow down, panicked and screaming AAAAAAAAAAA! at the top of my voice rocketed down the slope.

There were other biginners at the foot of the hill standing in a lovely semicircle. They were so busy with attaching their skis that could neither hear me yelling nor see me moving at the speed of lightning. I just had to do something to avoid a hit-and-run accident. When my feverish mind recovered, I knew what to do… I fell. At my speed it was an almost suicidal decision. I flew a few metres before sprawling right at the feet of the semicircle. Embarrassing! Some beginners freaked out and lost their balance; the others helped me to my feet. Thanks, guys! Nice suits!

I was really grateful to them, soft snow and the God for the happy landing. It may never have happened.

I went aside, caught my breath, looked at the top of the hill doubtfully and started climbing up…

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