I was late to skiing, very late. Not for me the glow of the goggle tan entitled on the first day back at school after winter holidays.
Skiing was a club I simply had no access code to. My parents had left the grey skies of England for summer blues, damned if they were going to embrace the cold on annual leave. Skiing, to them, was strictly done while being dragged behind a boat in a pyramid formation at Sea World each winter. Even then, it was done by others while they watched, why exert yourself unless you have to?
God forbid I mention snowboarding - still considered at the time to lead to drug addiction, body piercing and an almost certain life of prostitution by the parents of my goggle-tanned school friends.
In my family, we had no generations of privately educated ancestors with names etched on members-only ski club walls, granting us access through the front door of the private ski lodge. The world of skiing in Australia was as foreign to me as the British Order of the Garter is with a door bitch or bastard measuring one’s worthiness to enter the hallowed white halls.
Twenty year later I have (I think) managed to negotiate my way to the front of the queue, past the door bitch and into the club - only to discover there’s another club within, managed by a hierarchy of self-appointed folk who are watching beginners' every move and laughing in their wake. The inner circle of 'I ski/snowboard better than you' skiers and boarders.
Then there's the ski club members. Not all private ski clubs and their lodges are created equal either, some even sing anthem-style songs heralding their greatness over other ski clubs, while standing before dinner served up by the club chef. Other ‘more lowly’ and more accessible clubs have you pitch in and make dinner yourself. Either way, like True Blood’s vampires, you have to be invited through the front door to get in, but your tens of thousand of membership dollars will get you uber-cheap accommodation for life. Oh the irony.
Let's not forget the highly competitive clique of race club parents (think soccer mums in Prada) whose little miss and master are ‘naturally’ destined for the Olympics. They spend their days begging for more funding from the government and emailing for sponsorship from private ski brands from their iPad at 37,000 feet at the front of the plane.
If only they could trade in a spare gemstone in the top drawer, a racehorse hind quarter or an acre of ‘the farm’ and contribute to junior’s cause, while the really worthy get the funding on offer. Oh, that’s right, there is no alpine racing funding (that’s another blog begging to be written).
But alas, I digress. The average first-time skier in Australia won’t know the difference between the seasonaires pulling beer for a lift ticket with no care for those who paid for their own, the locals who live and work there year-round, and the clubsters and trustafarians who lay claim to the land that the indigenous had before them.
Thankfully the first-time skier or snowboarder will be too focused on keeping their butt off the snow to notice, but know: we are watching you. Beginners are like sitting ducks to the Royal family on hunt day.
I arrived at my first time at the snow with a suitcase filled with stilettos clearly keen on après. Five sliding skater steps on an icy access path saw me return to my lodgings and don a pair of gym shoes (the only flats I had brought) channelling Jerry Seinfeld with jeans in humiliation.
Warren Miller makes a mockery of the beginner on the chairlift in many a feature ski film. Plant yourself at the top of a chairlift and watch the games begin.
Snow It All loves a beginner, the more converts to the snow the merrier I say. There are telltale signs that reveal the beginner to the snow world of Australia and if you’re considering joining ‘the club’ this winter and setting foot on snow for the first time, let me warn you of the dress code lest you hear snickering behind you in the lift line.
- Denim is called Texas gore-tex for a reason. Only an oversized cowboy from Houston would consider jeans appropriate ski attire. Denim is cotton and it will get wet.
- Garbage bags may be a cheaper option than rental gear but as they say ‘you are what you wear’. Two holes for arms and one for the head may work for a turtle but you are far from the sea.
- You are not washing dishes, leave the Marigold rubber gloves at home. They may be waterproof but they freeze, retain the cold and play havoc with the manicure.
- Beware the ‘turkey gap’ otherwise known as ‘the gaper’. Exposing that flap of exposed skin between the ski goggles and the beanie is akin to Madonna flashing her breast to a stadium of 55,000. One is forced to look away.
- When carrying your ski poles under your arm, have the baskets and pole tips facing in front of you or you may find a few small children shish-kebabbed on the end behind you. They are pesky to remove.
- Skis are to be carried over the right shoulder with the tips at the front or to be carried by Sven, the personal ski instructor.
- Skis and snowboards on the roof of the car should be with the bindings facing skyward, and preferably without boots still attached, while driving through satellite ski towns.
- Snow tyre chains are for the snow, unless you’re in an episode of Survivor and searching for fire from the flint sparks on the bitumen. If you are in a front-wheel-drive don’t put them on the back tyres. They become, like Kevin Rudd, redundant.
- Lift passes should be put on zipper pockets, not tied to the zipper at the front of your jacket. Why? Because if you zip your jacket up with the lift pass on it then you’ll spend the day getting lift-pass lash as it continually hits your face. You can thank me for that one later.
- Beware the riding-high snow-pants and that pesky leg hem that sits above the ski or snowboard boot begging for a damn dragging down. If you’re showing off your boot tops you can go back to the end of the queue.
There are many more telltale 'new to the snow' signs. Backpack done up while on the chairlift, hanging upside down from the lift as it makes it's way back down or the permanent snow plough legs on the dance floor.
What beginner mistakes did you make your first time at the snow? What ones do you notice most often? What tips do you have for beginners Post a comment below and share your stories.
WIN WIN WIN
You won't look like a beginner in these swanky his and hers jackets from our friends at Burton Australia on Facebook. The Women's Sage Down in medium (RRP$429.95) will keep riders uber toasty and warm and the Men's Large Arctic Jacket (RRP$279.95) features a Trail Mapped Insulation with Sherpa fleece. For stockists check out the Burton Stockists page.
To enter just share your beginner rookie mistakes you made when learning to ski or snowboard or tell us how to spot a beginner at the snow by posting a comment on our blog. If you are a first timer this year then share with us what you're looking forward to the most. Terms and conditions.
FUR TEDDY'S SAKE - LOST SNOW BEAR IN NEED OF A HOME
Hotham Alpine Resort posted a pic of Teddy on their Facebook page on Monday night after the opening long weekend. Poor Teddy had got separated from his best mate who took him to the snow. Now Teddy wants to go home and has lost his way.
Is this your Teddy? If it is contact firstname.lastname@example.org and they'll make sure Teddy finds his way home. In the meantime he's living the high life with Harry the Snow Dragon, riding the chair, boarding the slopes and sipping hot chocolates at tea time.
FIT TO SKI & SNOWBOARD - WEEK TWO
Snow It All has teamed up with Mark Richardson from Body Language Personal Training to create four simple three-minute video workouts you can do at home – lower body, upper body, core and cardio.
Last week we focused on legs and you can view that video here. This week we focus on the upper body. Any production value complaints see the manager of No Budget Productions.
Join in the fun and 'like' our Snow It All Facebook Page. This week we're giving away Snowy Mountain Cookies and a Dragon Alliance prize pack then Monday to Sunday is White Ninja bandeanie week, one a day to give away. Plus follow us on Twitter @misssnowitall and on instagram @snowitall #misssnowitall
Last week's winners of the Brookfarm Winter Hampers are Celtic 62, Rabbitoh Shane, Marralduci and Jules. Check your emails for a note from us.