Saturday, July 25, 2009

How to spend money: Lesson One

Go on a ski holiday. Despite my best efforts to get the best deals : cheapish flight, early bird price on the lift tickets, staying in a dorm at the backpackers, and the 10 day bus ticket up the mountain, there's just no getting away from the fact that skiing costs money! Luckily, it's NZ dollars, which are weaker than a soggy sponge so the pain isn't quite so bad.

Day one I turn up on the slopes to discover that my skis are hopelessly outdated and I'd enjoy life just that bit better with a pair of skis that are easier to turn and therefore easier to control. Definitely an issue when hurtling down a slippery mountain at high speed.

No problem, they have demo skis so I sign up for a pair and have a lovely day, but then I have to give them back, bummer!! Come and buy a pair they say, but no, I'm not buying skis, much simpler to rent and keep up with the improvements that way.

Day 2 it's windy and rainy and the mountain is closed. I have a day off. Day 3 there's 5-6cm of fresh snow and it's beautiful clear skies and it's my first lesson. First way to spend money: get private lessons. Aside from the cost (offset by said saggy economy) there are only pros to this spend; my technique improves dramatically and I work out how to use my rather old skis quite adequately.

Day 4 sees 20cm of fresh snow and appalling visibility. I discover that it is possible to get snow sick! Similar to motion sickness, where without visual orientation I get hopelessly dizzy and wobble all over the place, that's when I'm actually capable of moving without my head spinning!! Luckily I am with my instructor, who manages to get me off the mountain and we finish the lesson doing exercises on the beginner slope. She also casually mentions that my skis are too long and I'd benefit from shorter more modern skis. That does it, I'm off to the shop to hire skis for the rest of the trip! Another expense.....

After lunch the clouds clear and I get 2 hours on beautifully fresh snow before the skis get retired to their new role as an interior design item somewhere round the house. Back in Wanaka I visit the shop and order hire skis, planning to bring my boots in for fitting in the morning.

Day 5 (Day 4 on the slopes) I discover that my boots are stuffed!! OK they are over 15 years old and the plastic has deteriorated such that the base plates on the heels have completely broken away. A quick boot substitution for the day sees me on my bus and up the mountain but it is now time to bite the bullet and purchase myself a new set of boots.

Unlike skis, boots are personal. A boot that fits properly makes all the difference to both comfort and ski control. There is no way I would hire a boot, ever!! But the lovely boys back at the shop will refund me my ski hire if I buy some boots so it's not so bad afterall!! And the sweet Japanese chap who measures and fits me has 20 years experience and really knows his stuff! A true professional, I am in capable hands. And the best thing?? My new boots are about 200% more comfortable than my old ones, and that's only on the first day!!!! And they don't half look flash as well.

Day 6 (Day 5 skiing) is my first day in the boots and my first lesson with Lara with both new boots and skis. She is suitably impressed and after a few exercises on piste we hit the lumpy stuff. All my style immediately goes out the window as I somehow manage to get down almost vertical slopes in thick soft snow. I am instructed not to notice that we are now on a black run, I am already so freaked out such trivial details hardly matter. Apparently I do extremely well and even manage to regain some style. Boy I'm really starting to get this palaver!!

I take it fairly easy in the afternoon, just doing a little off piste practice as I have all of tomorrow to practice before my next lesson Monday. I'm enjoying the lessons so book up for a few more : hey it's only money right?? And when I get back to Wanaka I make one more purchase, again recommended by my instructor.

This one's a no brainer (pun intended) : I buy a helmet!!

More photos added

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