When I tell people I live in Gstaad they assume I am an avid skier, but unfortunately this is far from the truth.
I have always ascribed my lack of skiing prowess to the fact that I came relatively late to the sport. After many hours’ instruction I learned to ski competently, though never gracefully, down the easier runs, but it was never really my ‘thing’. A Kaffee Fertig or two after lunch tended to improve the experience, but I always preferred the scenery to the sport.
Good job, Mum!
I read somewhere that children quickly outgrow their parents’ skiing ability. When our two older boys were at school in Saanen they skied every day during the winter term. They progressed quickly and by the end of their first season, at the ripe old ages of seven and five, easily outpaced me on the slopes.
This suited me down to the ground. My husband, a fine and adventurous skier, now had a couple of decent companions and I warmed to my role of ‘ski support’ (finding tables for lunch, ordering mid-afternoon Ovomaltines and driving the tired skiers home at the end of the day).
Every now and then I agreed to do the odd run. I clearly remember being on the Eggli one afternoon with my middle son. He was six at the time and the most enthusiastic of skiers. He whizzed down the slope, zigzagging in and out of the trees that lined the piste, while I studiously skied, turned, skied, turned, on the main run.
After what seemed an age we reached the middle section of the mountain. I hit a patch of ice, wobbled and panicked. A tumble seemed inevitable, but somehow I managed to regain my balance and a shred of dignity before it was too late. I sighed with relief and slowed to a controlled stop.
“Good job, Mum, good job!” I heard my son shout. I turned to look at him. He was waving his ski poles in the air, mouth split open in a wide grin. “Good job, Mum! You holded it together.”
“Held,” I muttered under my breath, “held it together.” He might outclass me on the slopes, but at least he didn’t know everything.
“Right, Mum,” he continued, “let’s go. Follow in my tracks,” and moved off at an exaggeratedly slow pace, solicitously checking I was still upright every few minutes.
Teenagers are a curious blend of Know-It-All with little life experience. When our eldest was 16 he decided he would no longer wear a ski suit on the slopes. It didn’t look cool and he preferred his denim jacket and jeans.
No amount of reasoned argument on our part would sway him. In fact, the more we protested the more he dug in. It was a losing battle. We decided he’d learn the error of his ways the first time he took the chair lift between Eggli and Chalberhöni and let the matter rest.
We didn’t have to wait long. A couple of days later he returned home dejected. He had lost his wallet. He’d put it in the pocket of his denim jacket after buying hot chocolates in the Berghaus Eggli at the end of the day, but now he couldn’t find it. I bit back the “I told you so” that was dancing on the end of my tongue and we agreed a plan of action.
He got up early the following morning and took the first cable car up the Eggli. Accompanied by his two brothers (six eyes are better than two) they scanned the slope and were elated to spy the wallet two-thirds of the way down. Their joy knew no bounds.
Curiously we heard no further argument about the merits of ski suits that season. And the denim jacket stayed in the wardrobe until spring.