Why does everyone know how to ski? The Bristol ski trip through the eyes of a beginner

Bristol Uni: the place where it’s embarrassing to be rich but also to be bad at skiing

After the 48-hour coach journey to Avoriaz it could be expected to be startled by the bright glare of snow-covered slopes, lung fizzing altitude, and toddlers performing front flips on snowboards. Thank god for the sheer amount of North Face and Arcteryx, so familiar you could be back in the ASS.

As a beginner, never having skied before except for four lessons on the Birmingham and Gloucester dry slopes, I had no idea what to expect from the infamous ski trip.

So do you ski with people, or alone? How do you get food? Do people ski at night? What about bears?

These were all the frenzied questions I asked my pro skier friends and each one was received with incredulous stares and eye rolls. “You do realise there are shops there, right?” Of course, there are shops, clubs, and bars at the top of a snowy mountain, how could I have been so stupid?

This is everything, I, a beginner, now know about skiing after attending the Bristol ski trip.

Everyone has been skiing before

Do NOT ask the question: “Have you been skiing before?” the answer is ALWAYS “yes.” By identifying yourself as a beginner a strange divide will form.

The looks you receive when you tell people you have never been skiing before are similar to what I imagine a parrot in a small cage at the zoo must experience… “you poor, poor thing, who can save you from this dirty, inhumane state?”

If you are not careful, you may find your eyes drifting to the floor, your knees giving way beneath you, and before you know it you are performing a neat curtsey to your ski superior.

Everyone’s REALLY good

So, when was everyone going to tell me? Of course, I saw the ski season Instagram posts, I was aware it is a popular family holiday. But apparently, like walking, reading, riding a bike, and basic phonics, skiing should have been one of the essential skills I learned before the age of five.

I don’t know what came as more of a shock to the system: skiing down a vertical icy drop for the first time in my life, or seeing my stoner housemate I have hardly seen move for two years bombing it down a black slope with the ease of walking down the stairs.

It’s a popular family holiday, for good reason?

Raised on camping holidays involving walks long and steep enough to destroy all serotonin, with only cereal bars and brown bread sandwiches to ease the pain, seeing little kids looking so happy to be dragged up and down mountains was initially confusing for me.

However, I soon learned that skiing, albeit cold and icy, is a far more leisurely holiday than a week camping in the lake district. Seeing small children get towed along in sledges, asleep and wrapped in puffy onesies, made me frankly envious. Parents holding their children’s hands as they snowploughed down the pistes looked simply tranquil.

I only saw a few kids having earth-shattering tantrums, and they were mainly hungover Bristol students.

There is a LOT of equipment

Layers upon layers upon layers.

Seeing the friends I made in Halls, who rarely changed out of their trackies, wearing long johns, braces, and huge goggles unironically was an adjustment. Often, the only way to identify someone was by learning the colour of their kit.

It did make the pit stop pints more interesting, seeing everyone’s helmet hair and their ungainly waddles down the stairs to the toilets in ski boots.

Skiing hungover is hard

This may not be as much of an  issue on a traditional ski holiday. I imagine Shy FX is not a staple feature.

However, trying to keep up with the three-day festival and endless visits to Avoriaz’s very own Gravity, Le Yak, made skiing the next day painful, tiring, and overwhelming.

If you saw me crying on the ski lift on my own, no you didn’t.

You become the stereotype

So, you thought you were different, not like the other ski rahs.

But by day two you are shouting over to your friend, waving one of your ski poles and adjusting your goggles, “yeah mate, let’s do one more run and then head back? I want to have a good amount of time at Apres and my sallies are already soaked.”

I guess this is a nice part about skiing, even as a beginner, you quickly become consumed by the snowy parallel society, it’s as if you were also a puffed-up three-year-old attending ski school. This is just the norm for you.

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