What and incredible week. Snowboarding in the Swiss Alps with a bunch of fun people. It was definitely one of the best weeks I’ve had. Starting out Monday, I was not too happy being put with a group of skiers. I shouldn’t say I wasn’t happy because I mean come on I was snowboarding in an incredible place, but I was dissatisfied because I didn’t understand why the snowboard instructor wouldn’t help me out, being the rookie, and why he felt like he had to go with the snowboarders who have be doing it since forever. We went to the glacier on Monday, which I had heard was really flat and not too much fun. There was a huge piste to bomb down before getting to the other pistes which, I couldn’t bomb down since I wasn’t good enough so instead I ran out of speed on the flat and had to unstrap my back foot and push myself a long ways. Not cool. There weren’t really any lifts here, just teleskis because it wasn’t ever really steep enough. I wanted to show the ski instructor, James, that I wasn’t a complete rookie and tried to be impressive with my turning until I tried to get in one last turn before stopping and I ate it. I fell straight on the spot where I got a huge bruise the week before. Not on the first day! That was the last thing I wanted especially on easy pistes like these. We had to take a ski lift to get to our lunch spot and before we got to the lift, more flatness. This time I decided to just carry my board since it was actually slightly uphill, but still really far away. The rest of the day was more of the same stuff.
The second day I started out with the snowboard instructor, Alain, for a private lesson since I was the only snowboarder who actually needed lessons. It went well but I felt like some of the things he told me to do were a bit difficult and actually made me worse. There were a lot of rocks on the pistes that day because it hadn’t snowed in a while and I hit a lot of them and consequently, scratched up my board a lot. In descending and trying to do one of the instructors exercises I tried to turn left, but that didn’t work and I was about to fall so I brought it back and turned right and right there was a skier in a red suit. I hit him of course. He was an instructor from the Swiss Ski School. I felt fine but before I could say anything he points at me and says “C’est ta faute!” pauses and again says “C’est ta faute!” “Do you speak English? It’s you’re fault!”
Great, I’m glad it’s my fault thanks for making sure I know asshole. I told him sorry a few times in French and asked if he was alright, which he said he was. He stood up and looks to people he’s teaching, which I presume were English speakers and he says “Swiss Steel!” Yeah, OK buddy get over yourself.
After lunch I went back with the group of skiers from the day before. We were heading to Villars, another ski area connected to Diablerets, We had to go down a narrow route to get to the actual pistes which I always hate because it’s difficult to stop and turn on a snowboard and the risking of hitting someone is constantly present. Hitting someone or falling over the edge. They are also always icy which makes them even more fun! I was trying to slow down on a patch of ice before a turn when I slipped and fell backwards with my head taking all of the impact. Everything was briefly black and I knew something bad had happened. A concussion is my guess. I sat on the snow wanting to take a break but James said it was no good and we could reach a big lodge soon but we had to keep going. We made it down to the lift that we had to take to reach the restaurant. For me it looked as if water were dripping down my goggles as if I were at the surface of the water about to go diving. I told everyone and they checked my goggled and said there wasn’t any water. I was sure there wasn’t but I thought it was best to tell them so they knew I wasn’t OK. There were riddles on the way up that I couldn’t read but the others had a good time answering them. When we got to the top we had to descend a bit. There were people everywhere! It was snowing. I didn’t want to do it but I had no choice. The snow was at least good. When we made it to the restaurant I got a water thinking it could be vital! We took about a 30-45 minutes break and I didn’t want to continue. Things looked blurry out of my left eye. I told everyone so they knew. Finally James asked if I was ready to continue. I didn’t want to but I said yes and that I can’t do anything about it now. He agreed. I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and finish off the day. Besides, even if something was wrong I didn’t want to know about it. It was still only day 2 of 5. I journeyed on and took it easy that night. No brewskis, although I thought it would be a bit comical, just hot wine.
Wednesday the group of skiers and I split from everyone else and I went to a different area (Isneau) because the pistes there are more challenging than the glacier where everyone else went. The other ski instructor, Valerie, came with us and brought skis and a snowboard. She mostly helped the skiers in the morning but we really did the same exercises, and donned the snowboard to help me in the afternoon. I heard her talking to someone the day before saying she wasn’t the best snowboarder and she was about average. She borrowed the snowboard and boots for the week from a friend. I wasn’t too pleased about having some “pretend” snowboard instructor but actually helped me out a ton. Towards the end of the day I started getting a lot better. She helped me to realize that snowboarding is a lot like cycling in a sense that you go where you look. In cycling if you’re trying to take a corner going anything over 20 mph and you look at the street or the side or grass, then you’re not going to go exactly where you want and you’ve got a chance of eating it hard. But, if you focus in the direction you want to go the entire time and keep you’re head straight you can really lean the bike over and do crazy turns without crashing. I was beginning to feel like a legit snowboarder. She also always saw me trying to do tricks so she showed me how to do a tail and nose press and nose turn, which I still can’t quite do you. I finally started having more movement in my leg since I didn’t fall as much and I made sure to fall on anything but my ass. Be it elbow, shoulder, arm, head, whatever!
Thursday morning the instructors told us we had the opportunity to go sledging (they call it “faire la luge” in French) in the afternoon if we wanted. I think it was to give people a break from skiing because I think a lot of people were tired, but I was perfect! I was just getting into it! I decided it would be fun to do it since I hadn’t done it before. Valerie, the same instructor from the day before brought just a snowboard today and skiers did their own thing. Today I was building off the progress I made from the day before and I felt about normal now with the movement in my leg. Valerie showed me how to ollie and nollie (jumping) today, which I still also need work on and tried to get me to start riding switch (opposite foot in front). Just before lunch all of the skiers and snowboarders happened to meet up on the same piste. The instructors told one of the other snowboarders to set the pace and for everyone to follow her turns. It was insane! There were 15 of us all descending at the same time and Valerie told me to stay right behind the person leading. Someone started making the beeping noise that is made to countdown the downhill skiers and I started cracking up. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it was because it seemed so crazy that I was about to do this. I knew it was going to be nuts! We started and the same person kept making the beeping noise every time we turned and I still thought it was hilarious. I don’t know what was so funny about it. We were going fast and I didn’t even think about what I was doing. I was just watching the person out in front and it was automatic. I had people on either side of me so I was boxed in. I slowed down a little and a few people passed but I stayed with the group. It was so much fun blazing down the mountain. We had to descend down another piste to get our lunches and this time we just tried doing tricks. We were all going sledging after lunch but I as pumped and wanted to go with the rest of the snowboarders Friday. It was the highlight of the week.
After lunch we went to rent sledges. It started raining, which I thought was bizarre being in the mountains with snow everywhere. There were 3 price points to match the speed of the sledge. We went for the ones in the middle, the “Austrian” sledge. It sounded exotic and awesome. There was an odd number of people so I was forced to go by myself instead of share one. I was a bit nervous because I had no idea how to steer the things and I figured I’d go over the edge especially since the sign at the start of the run said it was icy and that we would go extra fast. No one ever really told me exactly how to steer so I thought to hell with it and started down. We all met up after the first drop and decided to race. I knew I was at a disadvantage because I had less weight. I actually passed two teams because they crashed. I made some crazy turns that I don’t think I could have done with another person riding with me. When we made it down after the first time two people said they didn’t want to ride with me because I was a crazy driver. Great! Just what I needed and what always happens! I always get screwed and was about to get screwed again when I didn’t get selected in the random partner drawing. So, I went down alone again and the third time down I had a partner who was an experience sledger. He showed me how to sit in people’s draft before passing to gain speed. He drove but he was a lot bigger than me and so I wasn’t at all comfortable riding down. I’m sure it’d be different if I was with someone else my height.
At the bar we always go to after skiing Valerie brought us some type of bread and we all took a piece. After my first bite, I realized there was something in it. Some type of nut I guess and I couldn’t decide whether to spit it out or keep pressing down with my jaw. I didn’t want to be rude so I kept trying to break it until I realized it wasn’t going to happen. I sat there with a bizarre look on my face and someone noticed and told me to spit it out and that I won. It was a little plastic white figure of a priest. They gave me a sort of paper burger king crown which I guess came with the pastry when they bought it and I wore it the rest of the night. Crazy Swissies.
Friday morning we had to decide what to do for the day but skiing wasn’t an option. The rain from yesterday ruined the pistes. It snowed on the glacier but the operators were considering closing the pistes due to heavy winds. We had the options of going swimming, ice skating or sledging. People decided between ice skating and sledging. I opted for sledging but the sledging run was closed because it was too icy. So the sledgers decided to get trash bags and slide down some hills on our butts to entertain ourselves for a few hours. It was fun and you can view the video made from this event on youtube! We took the earliest train from Diablerets, which left around 3:00 since we didn’t have much to do. Despite not snowboarding Friday I still had a fun day hanging out with everyone. It was such an incredible week. I hope to get an opportunity to hang out with everyone again and hopefully do some snowboarding together!