Friday, July 30, 2010

Meet Bob

Rest days do all sorts of wonders to one's muscles, along with a genuinely good deep tissue massage, so Thursday saw me back on the slopes having an absolutely awesome day churning down "Bullet" which is one of the many natural halfpipes in The Saddle. With lovely soft snow, and nice smooth sides I was soon making it top to bottom without stacking and ending up with a bucket of snow up the insides of my jacket. Can't say it was stylish, but it was lots of fun!! With my new-found confidence and bright red cast, I even headed off-piste, but that was a bit of a mistake, so I booked in for a lesson Friday as it was time to hone some skills. I appear to have reached a plateau in my skiing, somewhat similar to the windsurfing plateau one reaches at the gybing point (or my current impasse regarding forward loops!), where I am really struggling to finish off perfect carve turns, so I subjected myself to some good old advice from an expert.

Having received a recommendation to book a lesson with "Canadian Heidi" from a woman I met in the cafe, I fronted up at 10am to discover Heidi was off for the day. After an apology suggesting dire circumstances for whoever wrongly booked me, Mr Eye Candy introduced me to Bob Campbell, a fellow Vermont USA Instructor with the promise that Bob was "awesome".

Well Bob's a bloody legend I reckon. Knocking 70, Bob's blind in one eye with a hip replacement, and a veteran of over 40 years teaching. Not only has he been teaching skiing for all that time on weekends and school holidays, he's only recently retired from fulltime primary school teaching, including the last few years working with kids with behavioural problems. At a loose end after separating from his wife of 40 years, his colleague (Mr EC) suggested he come and do a season in TC.

Well lucky us! Bob's like the Pied Piper, taking the school kids on lessons every Friday (if you go to school in Wanaka, Friday is sport day, equals skiing in winter!) and has an incredible passion for kids and teaching. He has such a wealth of experience and for 2 and a half hours he was free to provide me with some help with my less than perfect carve turns. Not only did he have me working really hard on getting that pressure going through the terminal part of my turns, he had fantastic historical stories about the origins of the exercises, as well as great nuggets about boot fitting, ski tuning, orthotics and about making sure you " face the walley"! It was just the sort of advice I needed, although I can't say the legs were in quite the condition of yesterday!

But Bob's best nugget came late in the lesson, when he told me what caused the large mass of rock to form which is such a dominating part of the landscape when looking down from TC to the lake. Apparently it is the result of two glaciers, which merged at this point as they came down the valleys on both sides. The sediment of the glacial moraine was forced together then compressed by a few tonnes of ice, apparently forming the largest structure of its kind in the world. It amuses me hugely that it takes a curious American to discover this fact. God love him!!
So I've one more day left, in which I shall try not to injure myself, then it's back to the sunny west coast. Next year I'm determined to come longer, because I've got to get more time on the mountain if I'm ever going to master those turns. My god this is sounding so similar to my windsurfing obsession isn't it?

Talking about which, one more month till the sea breezes should start kicking in and then: well if I can break an arm and still keep skiing, I can bloody well do a forward loop right????

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

And the coffee's great too

Wanaka, in the southern alps of New Zealand, is spectacularly beautiful. Surrounded by mountains, many snow capped at this time of year, and bordering a large lake, you can't help but be viscerally moved by the serenity, the clear bracing air and the gobsmackingly gorgeous vistas around every corner. My trip in the bus every morning up to Treble Cone skirts the lake for 20km, crossing cute one lane bridges and with views over to Mt Aspiring. Then as you climb up the gravel road to the ski field, the view over Lake Wanaka opens up in all its splendour. I can't get enough of this place, just sitting having my morning latte in the cafe looking over the lake makes my day!!Today saw me having a rest day as it was time to check in with the doctor, get the official XRAY report and choose the colour for my new fibreglass plaster. Not surprisingly I went with red, but not before taking a few photos of the extensive bruising still present, and am now set with a rock-hard cast that just might see me pulling the brake off a little for my final three days of skiing. Might even let the boys in red squeeze me for a private lesson!! Mind you, those nut brown eyes could squeeze me out of anything!After a yummy baked pumpkin risotto for lunch, and one too many lattes, I headed out along the lake for a walk to Beacon Point. The views are stunning, including a chance to see TC from the Lake. Yep, that's why the view's so good back down again!So now I'm suitably chilled it's time to get a massage. Tomorrow it's back to the slopes!!

Here's all the rest of the photos

Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Ski with your legs, not your hands!" *

After breaking my arm on Day 3 I took one day off to allow the swelling to go down then returned to the slopes of Treble Cone with a massive XL mitt over the offending plaster to see if I could still have some fun. The thought of spending another day under an inversion (this is when a thick layer of cloud sits over the lake but it's blue skies and sunny up on the peaks) filled me with dread so despite some pain I headed up the mountain regardless. Now I fully admit that this is totally reckless behaviour, but I reckon my skiing is good enough now to at least keep me upright on the groomed runs. I also needed to see the guys at the ski school to cancel my lessons.I've always wanted to do a week long ski school with a group of like minded skiiers, but rarely come to the slopes during the peak ski season when these classes are held. The groups are usually small, and in particular they run ones for women, seeing as women ski differently to men. Bit like windsurfing really, us gals do things with style whereas the lads just use brute force!!

Anyway, this year TC had a ladies ski improvement week for the final week of July, which fitted perfectly with my trip and didn't clash with Neen's week with me either. Neen's now returned home to hubby and gorgeous kids so I'm back to shared dorms and working out ingenious ways to cook dinner with only one serviceable hand!! But the best laid plans....

The boys in red at the ski school have been fabulous, organising a refund, and encouraging me to get back on the slopes. I've had to play the helpless female a few times to ask people to tighten my boots for me, though I'm not sure that "helpless female" and "crazy woman skiing with a newly broken arm" are totally compatible statements! Who cares, I'm having fun!!

I've conquered the green slope (there's only one) and today discovered that "Main Street" doesn't seem to be as steep as I remembered it, so it may be time to hit The Saddle. The boys were right, who needs arms??

*Thanks Russ for the kind words of encouragement, and to everyone else who has written fun things on my cast.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Minor mishaps

After the freezing weather of late June and early July (we even had a frost in balmy Geraldton, shock horror!!) we at last got some rain and the water tanks are all filled.

Mishap number one: build a new water tank stand but don't cement the legs in. Load empty tank onto stand, fill with water and slowly watch the legs begin to sag. Accept the inevitable and clear the way for the big event. Some time in the night I am woken by a loud creak, and a heavy thump. Check out the damage in the morning: tank still upright though now on the ground, still full, at jaunty angle, but not damaged. Tank stand in pieces, neighbouring fence buckled. Noone injured. Lesson learnt: Cement the legs in next time!!

Mishap number two: last year I went skiing in New Zealand, where I rediscovered my inner ski goddess. So I booked myself another two weeks in the white stuff for this year, and even managed to convince a friend to join me for a week. Now the snow hasn't been that great so far, but Monday night it began to fall and we had a wonderful day at Cardrona in the soft stuff till the poor visibility forced us in to the cafe. Then yesterday we returned to my spiritual home at Treble Cone, with my brand new skis and a mountain covered in lovely snow. Neen went off for a lesson and I headed over to The Saddle to try out my new "Lotta Luv"s in the soft bumpy stuff on Cloud Nine. Almost at the bottom and I hit a small depression and well, stopped!! Thrown forwards my boots released and I face planted into some nice soft snow. Thank goodness for goggles and helmets.

But hang on a sec? My hand feels a bit sore, actually quite a bit sore. Must have sprained it. Shove a bit of snow on my wrist and get myself organised, clear the snow from my goggles, get back into my skis and get down the rest of the hill. Take chairlift up to the top of the Saddle, nursing what feels just a little worse than a sprain, OMG, could I have broken it? Decide to be sensible and ski back down to the base so I can visit the medical centre for an XRAY. No XRAY facilities, but on inspection there is some rather suspicious swelling happening around my distal radius. Me and the doc are pretty sure I've bingled it, so into a backslab I go, and an appointment is made for an XRAY down in Wanaka that evening.

And yep, I am now the proud owner of a nice POP cast due to a small distal radius fracture. More a buckle really, no displacement, though the doc has sent off the films to the orthopods as there's another line he's not sure about (I think it's just a blood vessel). But it has kind of cramped my style a bit. And made fitting into a ski glove an impossibility!

Neen also had a fall yesterday, and has a sore right shoulder, so between my left arm and her right shoulder we're a sad and sore pair!! But Wanaka is a delightfully pretty place so we aren't exactly bored, though I will be after a few days. Awesome sunset the other night too. So I'm now off to buy myself a mitt. Something that'll fit over the plaster and get me back on the slopes. As I said, only a minor mishap!!