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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Skill Versus Stamina


I love skiing. My form is clumsy, my confidence wavers, but I absolutely love it. Chances are if you hear someone close by on the hill laughing or letting out a “whoohooevery now and thenit is probably me. I just can’t help it.

Here it was Saturday and some friends invited me to join them for a day of skiing in St. Anton, a popular ski hill in Tirol.

One thing you have to know about skiing in Austria is that the mountains are a web of lifts and runs. When I lived in Montafon, another ski area in Austria some 10 years ago, a day of solo skiing ended with me finishing up in an unfamiliar town. So, when unaccustomed with a hill, I tend to just tag along with those who know what they are doing.

However as one gondola ride led to another, then another, along with a few chair lifts and t-bar for good measure, a sense of increasing panic began to set in. I started to wonder if I had shared my ski skill level with my companions. This anxiety was quickly compounded when one fellow askedhey Dawn, did you get any heli-skiing in over Christmas?”

Okay, there are a few things that you need to know about the Austrians and Swiss when it pertains to skiing. They were born on skies. Where we enjoyed freezing cold snowshoe treks, these guys were doing timed ski races. But, with the popularity of heli-skiing in Canada, they all figure that a Canadian’s ski level is likely just as good – if not better than theirs.

So at this point I could conclude that my anxiety was well founded. After countless rides up I found myself looking down a mountainside and thinking, “I should have bought a helmet. At least then my head would be protected as I tumbled down the steep slope.”

But alas, I am also competitive. I followed my companions. Perhaps a bit slower, and certainly with much less grace – but I did it. Later on in the day to give me a break they took me on an easier run but I have to admit it was boring in comparison. So back to black we went.

Towards the end of the day I noticed a shift happening. As my confidence rose, my ski partners began to complain of fatigue. I started taking the lead. And frankly I cannot tell you how proud I was to be able to do that. Sometimes in life we experience an unexpected moment of satisfaction – this was certainly one for me. I’m sure my far from perfect form was a source of amusement, but that’s okay, I beat them on endurance. And sometimes, that’s all that matters...

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