20 things you need to know about skiing
...and continuing the same theme, Perkin Warbeck guides you through... 20 things you need to know about skiing
- The word ski derives from the French word schier, meaning "to ponce around in multicoloured clothing"
- In a recent survey, the most practised skier in the UK was found to be Princess Fergie, with Olympian brothers Graham and Martin Bell lagging behind. Flamehaired Funloving Fergie misses only four days of the season, whereas Graham and Martin interrupt their practice for events like children's birthdays or conjugal visits back in Blighty. FFF only interrupts her skiing when her punishing Royal schedule demands, or for rendezvous in London hotels with Texan oil baron Wyatt Earp.
- Skiing is one of the few sports where men and women take part in similar numbers. This is mainly because, along with golf, it is not in fact a sport but a piece of middle-class posing. Whereas women are not quite daft enough to play golf, they are lured into skiing by the lycra, fur and colours of the fashion gear.
- Most skiers are desperately unfit and take no other exercise the whole year. This was easily seen in the days when the White Corries chairlift left you with a 15 minute walk up a slight incline to the ski area. Salopetted saps floundered along it with tomato faces, Stentorian breathing and quivering legs. Huge numbers of injuries happen every year as vast armies of devotees plunge down icy gullies with atrophied muscles torn asunder. Having said that, a recent survey showed 72% of skiing injuries to be caused by people falling over while wearing moon boots.
- One of the ironies of skiing is that you ascend to the highest, remotest places in the country and then spend hours in some of the most unpleasant activities imaginable. To name but two: hyper-aggressive queuing and The Ptarmigan Restaurant. There is a prevalent myth that only the British know how to queue. This arises because, unlike our Continental chums, we stop short of stabbing each other with poles. Also unpleasant is being herded into a cable car which makes the Tokyo underground look spacious, with someone's pole up your nose and everyone making animal noises.
- Most of the above comments apply to downhill or piste skiing, as it is the commonest manifestation. However, there also exist cross-country skiing for the woolly-hatted type of person who wants to get knackered, and off-piste skiing for the downhill smartass. An off-piste skier drools over powder snow as if it represents a purer form of the art than the piste. In fact, skiing on powder instead of a piste is analogous to walking through a bog when there is a perfectly good path.
- If you were in ski paradise Aspen Colorado and a skier said she was looking for moguls, she wouldn't necessarily be a gold-digger hoping to get off with one of the many oil millionaires. (Isn't it funny about FFF's oil millionaire? I wonder where she found him?) To skiers, a mogul is a bump in the snow which bashes your knees off your chin. Skiing through moguls is analogous to plodding through a boulderfield when there is a perfectly good path.
- The carpark at any skiing area is a mass of Audis and GTI-type thingies which are then driven as if the driver were still on skis. Pity help any weary bagger emerging onto the A9 after a quiet day on Beinn a'Ghlo.
- Skiing has produced some of the most ludicrous fashions ever invented. The moon boot for example. Also the bum bag. And painting your face like Adam Ant.
- Among the strange obsessions to afflict skiers is a fanaticism about technique. One can learn to descend all but the hardest of slopes in about a week, yet highly competent skiers will happily shell out on lessons for the rest of their careers, chasing the Perfect Parallel turn (PPT) - a style of wiggling your bum like Marilyn Monroe in Some Like it Hot, but with feet locked together. Once this Holy Grail has been found and wrapped in the Golden Fleece, the skier is then free for the first time to look at the scenery instead of their own feet or the instructor's bum. (Eh? - what's Monty Python got to do with skiing? - puzzled Ed.)
- There is a secret society who pursue the opposite course of action to most skiers. They despise colourful clothing and wear only dark green. They take no interest in technique but dive down Cairngorm with never a lesson. They knock down queues and banter furiously. They are called The Army.
- Skiing has produced a number of controversies in Scotland as skiers and conservationists tend to have diametrically opposed views on the landscape. Conservationists like trees, grass and the odd sheep; skiers tend to prefer car parks, massive septic tanks, restaurants, giant pylons and the odd snow cat. These controversies are decided by the Secretary of State for Scotland deciding in favour of whoever has plc after their name.
- Skiing seasons have been decimated in the last few years due to global warming. Remarkably few firms appear to have gone bust as a result. They have just doubled their prices and the punters are too rich to notice.
- The single most bizarre thing to do with skiing is the dry ski slope. All over the country people queue for twenty seconds of skiing down a giant brillo pad. It acts nothing like snow, rips flesh to the bone if you fall over, and of course derives its only raison d'etre from the search for the PPT.
- Fashion is God in the skiing industry, and a keen devotee will change their outfit at least once a year. Last year one of the favourites bore the legend "Survival" on the back, which is a bit of a laugh as a skier never strays more than ten minutes of paralleling away from a cafe selling hot wine.
- Many people will ski only on the Continent, as Scotland is thought "not to have the weather". In fact half the Continental resorts have been coughing up lack-of-snow money in recent years, or bussing people four hours to the nearest piste, but long may the myth persist.
- One of the many hazards of skiing abroad is the Fondue Evening. Huge chunks of raw meat are thrown into sizzling fat while small men in leather trousers play oompah music and yodel. Local firewater is knocked back and at the end of the evening one's couriers do "Living Doll".
- In the Olympics the curious sport of skijumping assumes a prominence completely out of proportion to its usefulness or popularity amongst the masses. Passing over any reference to ***** the *****, we note only that Finland produces a disproportionately high number of champions, and wonder what it is about the Nordic / midnight sun / heart attack / rally driving / suicidal Finns that creates them.
- Most bizarre of the skiing events is the biathlon, where Soviet soldiers ski across country for miles and then take pot shots at targets. It's strange that Roger Moore never entered, as he can hit the target skiing at top speed, firing from the hip. Presumably this event will disappear with the end of the Cold War, to be replaced with skiing across country and then dismantling a nuclear missile.
- For the very rich, the sport of heli-skiing has recently become popular. A helicopter takes you to a completely virgin mountain and you plough through the powder, It's obviously tailor-made for FFF, as her man has his own helicopter. Hence if his ship seems to be endlessly stationed in Lake Zurich you'll know why.
TAC 6 Index