Wednesday 10th December 2008

In a strange twist of fate, I found myself in a team of skiers. However, I would not be a skier if it were not for my relationship with Pav. That long term friendship in term is based on my decision to go to Henley College and not stick around at my secondary school. All of that is perhaps something worth mentioning when I am much older and have many different situations of pure coincidence to consider. For now, I need to let you know about not just a successful but an outstanding day.

An earlier start than usual and perhaps it was not until I received a text message from Pav at approximately 8:41am that I realised my day was going to be very different from the norm. My friend wondered why he had not received an e-mail from me yet, I usually try and send an e-mail across before the 9am deadline. He had realised why I was not in the office and hoped for a further update later that afternoon. I was heading to Milton Keynes. I was nervous but perhaps not as nervous as I would have been if I had not ventured onto a slope of some description in late November. My greatest fear was being told I was not up to Level Three standard and being dismissed from the slopes. Not just majorly embarrassing but also financially crippling. I might as well just open the window and throw out several five pound notes. As usual I was looking for something that was not there. I do not think I will ever come across a sport that is so heavily based on confidence. By the time we were suited and booted, it was only 11am and we had a good half an hour wait before our lesson began. They were playing UB40 greatest hits over the PA system, “Rat In My Kitchen”. Later I would hear the classic cover of Can’t Help Falling In Love and the song from Speed 2: Cruise Control, Tell Me Is It True while on the slopes that that afternoon.

Our instructor was Carl and there was a group of seven of us in total. Quite a big group considering my last time on the slopes there had been only two! We headed out onto the lesson slope. The last time I had been here was October 2007. If you had told me then that I would be skiing down from the top of the main slope just over a year later, I would have bitten your hand off and given it to big T to eat! I should be more self assure of myself than I am, because I do have the ability. Well perhaps it did not feel like to begin with. I had difficulty getting off the travelator and almost started skiing down backwards to wards it. Eventually I got my balance and my co-ordination to stand firmly at the edge of the slope and ski down. After a few runs I got going and then we switched quite quickly to the middle lift but coming off half way up onto some black mats. This is when the real hard work began, slowly staggering up the hill and then skiing down. I got the hang of it and my confidence slowly but surely went up.

A few runs later and it was now to a new adventure, as we hit the main slope but not from the top but two thirds up. I was nervous but there was no time to wait and listen out for instruction. It was a case of getting up there and then bombing down. I was quite apprehensive, even though I had tackled steeper and more difficult runs in January. I made it down but did have to steady myself a little, although loved the rush of going quite fast in the middle. I was actually pleasantly surprised that I had managed to make it through the whole day without a single crash. More so than this, it was just a few ‘issues’ getting myself off the travelator. Was I ready for some freestyle? Was I hell!

My free ski session started from 12:30pm until 1:30pm (although we would say on a bit longer than that). I actually really enjoyed it and can confirm to both Pavneet Singh Khural and the rest of the world that I am looking forward to my holiday in Tignes next month. Ironically, exactly a month today I will be out on the slopes. Or as Pav has put it, “Off coach, dump luggage, rent skis, hit slope!”. Funny how three and a half hours on the slopes (both dry and real snow) have taken me to someone not looking forward to their holiday (please see post on . Enough about the past and what is to come in the future, let me continue with my mini-ski adventure. I was apprehensive about going straight to the top on the main lift on the far left of the slope and opted to instead go up to the middle point again on the main slope and go down. It was at this point my colleagues saw me go down and saw my poor technique. Once I got down to the bottom, I had to prepare for the post-mortem. Then it was time for the daddy. We headed over to the lift and if you were close enough you would have heard the cartoon ‘gulp’ from me as I got onto the lift. Was I read for the slope? Or was the slope ready for me? As they had toboggan runs taking place to the side, part of the slope was cut off, so I had to go down part way of one slope, then cut across back onto the middle slope. I made it and was once again pleasantly surprised. I can actually ski, it is all in my head. It is now all about honing my technique and then parallel turns, then jumps and some off piste action. Hold on, let us not get ahead of ourselves Teg. There is confidence and arrogance I know I am still nowhere near the accomplished skier I should be, but I am hoping that will change by the time 17th January 2009 comes along.

I lost count of the number of runs I made down, but it must have almost got to double figures. We stayed on beyond our time by nearly twenty minutes and I remember checking the time on my mobile as we left. Exactly 2pm. A very successful day, I should have text Pav there and then, but I wanted to enjoy the moment on my own for the moment. I wish I could say that for a brief moment I felt like a superhero but I did not. I did feel different, I felt better. Ready, prepared. Up for the challenge. Let us just hope, when I go to sleep back in Wycombe on Friday 9th January 2009, I do not get cold feet (literally!)

Are you easily star struck? I confess that I am and being in the vicinity of famous people (even if they only read the news) is something that has always appealed to me. While having breakfast in Costa in Xscape, I noticed a gentleman walk in. He was not some nobody, Joe Bloggs walking off the street. It was in fact Jake Humphrey. You might not recognise the name but you will recognise the face / voice from BBC Sport and Sportsround. I was under the impression that he had just been to the gym (Virgin Active) and after a heavy workout was having a cup of coffee and reading the sports pages. I was wrong. A little while later, I would see him hitting the slope on a snow board. Although I must confess I did not see him actually active on the slope, only queuing for the lift and towards the end of his ‘time’ waiting behind the barrier watching other boarders on the nursery slope.

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