April 26, 2009
We're back! Back from a wonderful trip to the Alps! We went skiing with the kids for the first time ever and it was fun, so much fun! This definitely was the most relaxing vacation for us in years. The kids finally got to see snow. Real snow, not the kind of snow we had a couple of times here in Paris this winter (beautiful!!) and which vanished within hours. Though we were late in the season - and that is a real gamble even at high altitude - there was still enough snow to ski. And since it was the end of the season, it wasn't too crowded either which is nice when you're an absolute beginner.
All four of us signed up for classes at the ESF - l'Ecole du Ski Français, which literally translated means the school of French skiing, as opposed to any other kind of skiing, whatever that might be... Everyone did really great. Except for me that is, as I chickened out on the third day, something I regret now and which I'm not exactly proud of. Too scared of "le gaz" - the edge, isn't that a great expression?! Too scared to let go. I have a lot to catch up next time we go (and I will!) as everybody else in our family is moving up to the next level: M. got her "Flocon", H. her "Ourson" and K. got promoted to the next level too. These awards are not to be taken too lightly! We're talking about the ESF after all and as it goes with everything here in France you need to comply and prove you fulfill all requirements, or else...
As I quit my class, I had plenty of time to watch the kids while taking their classes. No regrets about that! It was great to see my girls coming down the slope, gracefully, full of confidence, with their bodies so flexible, all natural as if it were nothing... But it was also interesting to see their personalities reflected in their skiing style: M. very much in control, relaxed, soft and smooth - H. cutting short "les virages", mischievous, speedy, adding a little fantasy here and there. I wish I had taken a decent camera and not my point and shoot camera...
The first couple of days were actualy a little tough on us with H. She got extremely frustrated because we didn't let her go up the hill on the "tire-fesses" (a ski-tow) like we let her sister. All that changed as soon as K. grew more confident on his skis and took her between his legs on the "tire-fesses", something a lot of parents did with the younger ones. As days went by, she was able to go all the way up on her own. One time she really freaked me out by going all the way up on a slightly steeper piste, though she promised me she would get off halfway like she'd done during class. You should have seen the grin on her little face when she came skiing down!! It nearly gave me a heart attack, but yes, she was perfectly capable of doing it. Once started, she wouldn't stop - up and down that slope, a whole afternoon. That night she fell asleep on the couch, exhausted as she was...
At the end of the week, K. took M. with him to do a longer and more challenging (but still "green") piste. The one I didn't dare to come off and where I quit class. No problem for M., though!
Conclusion after one week in the Alps: we all got the hang of it (yes, me too!!) and we'll be going back! And next time "je ne vais pas louper le cours..."
A little bit of ski-related vocabulary:
tire-fesses: ski-tow, you put between your legs and which pulls you all the way up - you typically need to stand up straight, everything else, like sitting or leaning causing you to fall off...
la pente: the up-slope
l'aval: the down-slope
le gaz: the edge and everything beyond
piste: ski-slope, classified according to colors vert, blue, rouge et noir, with vert being very easy and noir extremely tough
chasse-neige: plow, one of the most important techniques as it allows you to stop and to make turns
chapeau pointu: same as chasse-neige, but used to explain the technique to young children
patiner: skate, technique used to get a little more speed
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