Monday, September 24, 2012

Goddess blues

This year I think I can stop smirking when I use the goddess sobriquet, because I'm actually getting to a point where I can ski with something bordering on style. I'm pretty hard on myself, I know, but many hours on the mountain this winter has meant that I have made a massive progression in my skiing ability and can now knock off quite a few items on the bucket list:

1. I don't have jelly legs by noon. Mainly because I head down early for lunch, ha ha!! That doesn't mean I haven't had moments of massive thigh burn and pure exhaustion, only now it's because I'm spending most of my time off piste. To think I used to get exhausted piste skiing!!

2. I went heli-skiing! Not sure whether I mentioned this already but it was a blast! I get why people want to pay exorbitant amounts of money to ski their own fresh lines all day, but I'm unsure whether I could take all those knife edge landings. Stay tuned for the video footage...

3. Feeling comfortable off piste. Yes, I nailed this little demon this year. I tried a technique called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT for short, go on, google it!) and even though it looks like the biggest piece of mumbo jumbo quackery, it seriously works! I no longer have an incapacitating fear that stops me launching myself into the void. I'm by no means fearless, but I'm now going places I never went before. By myself, without someone else egging me on! My final run at TC was Gunbarrel, top to bottom, and yes, I started at Upper Gunbarrel, which is one of the steepest, narrowest runs on the mountain. Then I headed to Ohau and Mt Hutt on my way up to Christchurch, and spent most of my time at both locations trying to find freshlines and pockets of pow. Yep, I'm now a confident skier.

4. I skied Cloud Nine top to bottom in one go. This is a big one for me because it was on Cloud Nine that I broke my arm 2 years ago, on my first day on new skis. I think it's also poignant that I was scooting down Cloud Nine last week on my new skis that I just recently bought (which, BTW, do make off piste skiing somewhat easier), but the other reason this is on my bucket list is that it's quite a long off piste run, and my fitness was up to the task. Burning thighs by the time I got down to the quad chair though....

5. I climbed the summit, and skied down. Not once, but four times. I could have done it a few more times, but that walk is tough, man! I didn't however, go over to the igloo, which someone built up there this year. Oh well...

6. I skiied Matukituki Basin. It was thick pow, and it wasn't particularly pretty, and I needed a deal of encouragement from Heidi, my ski instructor, but I did it. Maybe next year I'll make it down Motatupu Chutes!

7. I now ski more by feel. Rather than just look at a run, I now understand the differences in snow quality, and where to find those nice pockets of pow or creamy corn to turn in. I know the difference between icy, firm and crusty snow, and how to ski each type of surface. And I'm able to pick my lines as a result. Only watch out for that Jay ratpack when you think you've found yourself a quiet little soft line, they come scooting through like a bunch of magpies and put me right off my game!!

So what's next? Well first it's home to Oz, to visit mum, Matt and family in Canberra for a week, before heading back across to the west and home to dear Hazel, who has been hanging with the Bradleys while I've been away. All reports say she's looking good, and Demi assures me she's not missing me too much. I'm looking forward to having some quality time at home with her, doing some landscaping chores before heading north to Gnarloo for some wavesailing action. Oh, and I'm so going to try out that EFT on my forward loop impasse!!

Then next year, I'm going to go to Japan. Just for a week or so, but it's about time I got to ski in real powder. And what with my new skis - did I mention I bought new skis? - I'm all ready. 

Sitting at Christchurch Airport, I'm reviewing my last two months and all the wonderful people I've met, the great skiing I've done, and the beautiful country in which I've been. I'm really sad to leave, because this year really has been a watershed for me. I've cracked the envelope on my skiing ability, so that I now really enjoy it, rather than it just be a sport I wanted to be good at. Yes, there's a difference. Before, I strived to get better but was limited by fear. Now I can truly say I love skiing. But mostly I'm sad because I'm going to miss the people I met. Especially the hostel crowd, younger than me by a good 20 years or more, but who totally accepted me, travelled, skiied, boarded and partied with me. It taught me that ageism only exists in your own mind, if you are young at heart, then people miles younger than you will enjoy and seek out your company. It's not about being childish and irresponsible, in fact many of them appreciated being able to talk to an older, "wiser" (ha ha!) person, sometimes about quite personal stuff. Kind of a bit of a mother figure to a bunch of people a long way from home. Or as Michelle called me: Mother Bear!! I'm sure gonna miss everyone, thank goodness we have Facebook!

The locals I know in Wanaka really made my trip this year too. With most of the hostel crowd skiing and boarding at Cardies and Snow Park it was great to have friends to ski and lunch with, or enjoy a beer on the sunny verandah at the end of the day. Apres ski drinkies, pot luck dinners watching the rugby, managing to sell my old skis in record time, thanks guys!!

And one more thing, I'm just a little over Sticky Date Pudding for the time being.........

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