Skiing has been part of my life since I was young. With lessons on a dry ski slope, for you who have never heard of this it’s a horrible experience but essentially skiing on carpet (see here).
So having learnt at an early age, I then got to experience it for real in Austria in the 1990’s. I was very young and only had my few lessons on the ‘carpet’ to go with. The cable car up the mountain still echoes in my memory, it was a nervous, yet exhilarating feeling being elevated up over 1000 ft to the glowing white snow.
As soon as we touched down and exited the cable car, I instantly fell in love with the surrounding landscape. The sun reflected off the pure white snow, and gave the whole environment a glorious warming feeling. The breeze soon reminded us of the temperature outside and we were very glad to be wrapped up in the bulky warm snow clothing.
It was upon clicking on our skis and edging slightly up the mountain that the thrill and adrenaline started to flow through every inch of my body. This was only 50 metres long and a slant of probably 10 degrees at most, there was no where we could go, it was safe and no harm could come to anyone. BUT that didn’t stop the rush, I moved my skis to face down-slope and I was off… It felt liberating, it felt dangerous, it felt incredible.
From that moment I have had a passion for snowsports, and I would even say love! Even though that first experience ended in disaster of a dramatic fall.
The thrill is still there, the excitement is still real, it’s a true mix of danger and exhilaration. Add into the mix Snowboarding and you really do have a collection of Extreme Sports.
This is a true extreme sport, if you think about it you are literally descending a mountain at very high speeds. My Wandering memory of this comes from Lake Louise in Canada in 2010, my wife and I were on the backend of the mountain descending rapidly. I decided to take an off piste track into the woods, next to the intermediate run. The run went through the trees, with bumps and sharp turns in deeper uncut snow, and climaxed in a small jump, back into the run. Megan didn’t follow, and as I was picking up pace for the jump, I saw her out of the corner of my eye accelerating towards the final straight.
The jump wasn’t huge and I wasn’t worried, having completed a few prior. What I didn’t expect was a tree root sticking out towards the end of the jump, still covered in a white frost. I didn’t see it until it was too late, my right ski hit it and I started to ascend into the air. My legs split, and my right ski was out of control… it hit the tree and catapulted me further up. This was not a feeling I care to ever experience again – sheer dread, sheer fear… I was too high and I was out of control. The next thing I knew I was heading towards the ground head first.
That’s it, I don’t remember hitting the floor, I just remember opening my eyes and I was laying on my back and my head was spinning – Thank god I was wearing a helmet! I sat up and after a few dizzy spells retrieved my ski (still stuck in the tree). And walked carefully the few metres to the cable car. Megan hadn’t seen and didn’t even notice! Ha… that’s love for you – Actually that’s unfair, whilst going off piste, she was usually waiting for me, as I am usually ok.
I lost the ability to ski after that, I lost the confidence, I lost the skill. We descended the mountain carefully and I was in the doctor’s office a few minutes afterward and diagnosed with a concussion. I did get back into it after a while, and remember sitting at the summit of the Kicking Horse bowl, and the fear of the crash overwhelmed me so much that I had to walk out of the bowl and back up to the safest route down.
Morale of the story, don’t take skiing/snowboarding lightly, it is an extreme sport for a reason and believe me one mistake can be very serious… But once you’re confident and proficient enough skiing / snowboarding is intoxicating, the rush, the feeling, the fear it’s just simply unbeatable.
Every mountain offers something different in beauty and experience, so my advice don’t always visit the same one. There is a huge variety all over the world, from New Zealand to Japan, Iran to France… This extreme sport unlocks the door to a whole world of fun and previously inaccessible beauty.
The Real Extreme Sports collection now contains…