More skiing

A mere two weeks after returning from our ski trip to Colorado, we were off to the slopes once again! This time our destination was the Okemo ski resort (pronounced Oh-key-mo) in Vermont, with a large group of friends from Tom’s choir. Just over 30 of us converged on the charming little town of Ludlow late on the Friday night, mostly driving up after work. Tom actually organised the whole thing – car-pool arrangements, the accommodation (we took over an entire establishment, the charming Homestyle Hostel), our group dinner reservation, even the lift passes – and it was a resounding success.

Saturday dawned cold and sunny, and with some recent snow on the mountain we were all eager to get outside. Several of us decided to catch the free shuttle to the base station, and were hailed by a helpful driver as he filled up at the petrol station. Unfortunately it turned out that he was going around the loop in the opposite direction to the one we actually needed, so we rode around in a circle, and were joined on the bus by some other members of the group on our way back through… Fortunately it was just a short detour, and we made it to the mountain without wasting too much time!

Much earlier in the booking process it had looked as though the snow was going to be terrible, so I’d decided this would be a good time to try out snowboarding – I’ve been curious about it for ages, but not sufficiently keen as to lose skiing time when the snow is good! So of course it was just typical that the snow was fabulous… However, three other members of the group joined me in the beginner snowboarding lesson, and we had a lot of fun falling down the nursery slopes all day.

Rather to my surprise, I really enjoyed snowboarding. The technique is obviously very different to skiing, but at least the sliding-down-a-hill bit was familiar, and having both feet fixed to the board wasn’t nearly as awkward as I thought it was going to be. I fell over approximately once every two minutes, which really began to hurt by the end of the day, but even that wasn’t as bad as it could have been!

By the end of our lesson I at least understood how to tun on both the heel and toe side of the board, and could manage it about once in every four attempts. By the end of the afternoon two of us felt sufficiently confident to hop on a chairlift and head up to a “real” run – still just one of the green slopes but a nice change of scenery. My main challenge was that I never quite worked out how to make the board travel in the direction I wanted it to go, so I spent most of the time either sliding the wrong way sideways or falling over to prevent myself zooming straight down the hill.

Bruises were soothed by a hot shower and an evening of food and merriment. It turned out that the hostel bar had an excellent cocktail list, and an even better dinner menu, so we all ate (and drank) extremely well. It also happened to be St Patrick’s day, so the food was followed with more drinks and the singing of a selection of Irish folk songs (accompanied by a variety of instruments, naturally – what else would you expect when you go away with a bunch of musicians…!?!).

We didn’t have to leave until around lunchtime on Sunday, so for the morning at least I got back on skis. It was very cold, but the snow was glorious, and apart from a quick stop to warm up with coffee we kept going until the last possible moment. I was happy not to be driving, mainly so I could snooze in the car on the way home, although I must say it was very nice to be a passenger for once!

Everyone had so much fun that we’ve already booked the hostel for the same weekend next year. I’m also planning to go snowboarding again some time, much to the alarm of my skiing friends, although given that I’ve finally invested in my own skis I don’t think I’ll be switching snowsports for good just yet…!

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