Another perfect day beckoned us out again, this time on a day trip to Prato Nevoso, a ski resort only an hour away from Canelli.
Last time I went skiing I was hopeful and confident. I was also naive and stupid. In the mid 90's, my younger sister and I had been backpacking around Europe. We arrived in Zermatt, promptly hired skis and set off "uphill" on a cable car. We soon realised that "uphill" was seriously uphill. When we disembarked from the cable car, we might have been at something between 2000 and 3000 metres. At this height, slopes get serious. Very serious. We took one look and sat down in the snow, where we stayed until we were too cold and wet to stay any longer. When we lined up for the cable car again, we were the only people carrying their skis down!
Go forward 20 years to this week and I'm at Prato Nevoso, a small ski resort where I instantly felt comfortable. It helped that I was accompanied by 4 friends including 2 expert skiiers from Sweden.
Between encouraging friends and an inspired other half, I found myself walking out of a ski rental shop in a very awkward manner. I felt like an early version of a robot, legs bent and jerking under me as I struggled to propel myself in boots that forbade any flexing of ankles or feet.
A few minutes later I was being given a crash course in "how to stop" and "how to turn". These skills seemed of paramount importance but I wondered at what point I would be taught how to get moving in the first place.
In no time at all I was sliding through a turnstile and onto an elevator belt in a tunnel, grabbing at anything remotely stable and managing to thrust at least one of my skis between the legs of various strangers.
The tunnel provided a period of stability during which I had time to consider my predicament and panic accordingly. They say positive visualisation helps so I closed my eyes and imagined a gracefully smooth exit. But closing my eyes may not have been overly sensible because I almost fell backwards! How was this even possible when my knees were bent forward!?
With the end of the belt looming and a white icey slope coming into view, I checked my grip on my poles and adjusted my skis in a manner that might have made me look confident.
When I launched out of the tunnel it was far from gracefully smooth. It was more like a dead stop. I didn't go anywhere, and with other skiiers continuously being spat out of the tunnel, I knew I needed to go somewhere. And fast. So I did what I do best and walked. I think I may have been the only walking skiier on that slope.
In my comfort zone now, I kept walking.
But all good things must come to an end and it wasn't long before my walking brought me to a slight downward slope and I began to slide.
As I picked up pace I remember wondering how I would stay vertical. At one point I went down deliberately simply because I was going faster than walking pace.
By the end of the day, I was skiing, turning and stopping when I wanted to. But by far my biggest achievement was not having to carry my skis back down the hill...
Above: Prato Nevoso
Above: Our slope
Above: Snow drifts on buildings