Being trussed up like the Pilsbury Dough Boy
pays dividends on the slopes
Sllp slldlng away
The mission: take two rank amateurs and instruct them in the
fine art of snowboarding. Can they get piste up in a day? Words: Mark Robertson
9.30 Into the cable car gondola to take us to the Nevis range just outside Fort William.
9.45 Marvel at the joyous views: snow-capped hills as far as the eye can see. mist slowly lifting from the grey green lochs. Ski runs like track marks in the pristine snow begin to emerge from the white. 9.55 We arrive on the slopes. lain. our twenty-
year veteran instructor ignores our looks of
dismay as a pre—teen skiing class takes up residence beside us. Within minutes the hill is awash with mites on ice. the tnore unhinged among them knocking each other over and goading the less skilled members of their party. Kids can be so cruel.
We learn how to strap the board onto our feet which. with my hastily borrowed ‘don‘t I look professional‘ gloves. is an achievement in itself. I leave the Peruvian Yak hair hat back at our chalet (despite its slightly eccentric owner insisting it was perfect snowboarding attire) as l atn keen not to draw attention. The style wars that is snowboarding attire is part function and part fashion. To ensure maximum manoeuvrability clothes must be loose. ()n instruction. we got like pensioners and splashed out on some thermal undies and layered them with multiple T—shirts and sweaters. topped off with funky waterproofs. You do not want to be cold or wet and being trussed up to look like the Pilsbuty Dough Boy pays dividends on the slopes.
14 THE LIST 7/. 25’, Mar 200.2
9.57 A premonition drops into my head of me looking like a slapstick prop from Curry ()2: Nurse: head to foot in bandages. legs and arms in splints. being fed through a straw. The threat of physical harm — from bumps and bruises to shattered femurs and cracked collar bones — is one mantra repeated with glee by every snowboarder l have spoken to. Banishing such thoughts. we take our first runs. Sliding down ten feet or so with one foot attached to the board with all the finesse of a newly born deer.
10.42 Lesson two. Learning to control the board. Not quite got the hang of it as I take out two of the school children ascending the slope on the adjoining mechanical tow. I am far more distressed about this than they are.
10.44 lain the instructor reinforces the importance of the ‘if you think you're going to hurtle into someone at great speed. fall over to avoid it' rule. A little information can make the world a less dangerous place.
10.56 The morning is spent going over the half dozen basic moves. which are straightforward enough on their own: it‘s just the combining them that's the problem.
11.07 l‘all over. A lot. Moments of perfection and agility swiftly succeeded by moments of complete confusion.
12.22 Arse just beginning to go numb. Seem to be spending as tnuch time on it as off it. I am
Down, down, deeper and down
assured this is all part of the learning process. The sun comes out. It‘s a truly breathtaking place Scotland. y"know.
12.59 The brats bugger off and leave us to fall about unpestered. I slowly starts to come together. Lunchtime.
13.30 Lunch is in the hillside restaurant; it‘s grown—up school dinners for skiers. btit when you‘ve been up and down the side of a snowy hill like a yeti with an upside-down map. you‘ll eat anything. Topped up on carhos. it‘s time to take what we've ‘learned' and apply it to the real world: a trip down one of the prime sites for