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Facing My Fears: First Time Skiing

Having been on his first ski holiday when he was four, Mr S absolutely loves skiing. For years, he’d been trying to persuade me to come with him and experience the freedom of gliding through the slopes, the beautiful snowy scenery and the electric atmosphere of a ski resort. But the whole idea never appealed to me – first of all I’d rather have a warm holiday, secondly I’m terrified of heights and thirdly I’m not a fan of moving quickly and I definitely don’t like falling over. Having had a second cousin die in a ski accident and hearing other various horror stories such as broken limbs and torn ligaments – I seriously thought this is not the trip for me. 
But finally he’d persuaded me to come, choosing to stay at Courchevel 1850 as he thought it was the prettiest ski resort he’d been to (he knows I’ll do anything for the ‘gram) plus there were lots of lovely restaurants, great shops and beautiful hotels so if I didn’t take to skiing it would’t really matter. And of course I insisted we stayed in a beautiful hotel with a great spa, you know, just in case. Also despite my phobias I really felt like it was something I had to try once.

Arriving mid afternoon to Aman Le Mélézin, I was immediately taken by the snowy scene from our window. 
Having been to Norway this year, I’d visited snowy place before but I’d never been surrounded by such a blanket of snow with the Alps imposing in the background. Nor had I been anywhere where all the buildings were made of wood and the fairy tale village of Courchevel 1850 looked like something out of Christmas dream. It wasn’t hard to fall in love with the beauty of the place or the welcoming comfort of Aman Le Mélézin straight away but I was still more than a little apprehensive about my impending doom first time skiing the next day.

We woke up bright and early on Friday morning. ‘This is skiing me’ said Mr S, ‘I get out of bed early with enthusiasm when I’m skiing…’ We had a hearty breakfast to give us energy for the day and then headed down to the dedicated ski room at Aman Le Mélézin. Mr S had carefully instructed me what to buy so I had on my base layers, a jumper, salopettes, a new ski jacket, thick socks and ski gloves. At the ski shop they leant me the helmet, ski boots and the skis themselves, seeing my all white outfit, the ski butler said most importantly I must have the white helmet and skis to match. The first thing I noticed was how uncomfortable the ski boots were but I hoped to get used to them as we headed outside for my first time on the slopes.

Mr S and I had separate instructors for the first morning so that he could zoom around the red and black runs whilst I was on the beginners slopes. Again I was taken by the beautiful scenery and took a few quick snaps before we got started. My instructor Max was quite a veteran and well prepared to get a beginner used to skiing. He told me how to put on the skis and we started with a few leg exercises and drills to learn how to get my legs in the right place. Soon I was in the snow plough position over fairly flat terrain – ok this isn’t too hard I thought…

Surrounded by mostly three-year old children trying skiing of the first time, I definitely didn’t feel as frightened as I thought I would. We weren’t very high and the slopes were pretty flat. However my ski boots were still hurting a lot and as the strong winter sun beat down on me, I started getting very hot and my skiis got very heavy. Feeling flustered and struggling to move, Max suggested I removed a few of my layers. Taking my jumper off and temporarily removing my helmet, I already felt much better and Max suggested we give an actual (small) slope a go.

He instructed me how to get on the surface lift or magic carpet which conveyed me to the top of the learner slope. Once at the top it was time for me to give ‘real skiing’ a go and as I whooshed down the slope, I started to see how people fell in love with skiing so much. Despite my slow speed, it certainly felt very liberating! After a few more times down the slope, I was starting to feel really quite tired with my thighs hurting from tensing my muscles so much. Stopping for a moment to call Mr S, it was time for us to go for a drink… 
Mr S was soon by my side and with a professional photographer on the slopes we were able to capture a few photos of us together so that we’d always remember this first time. Our instructors suggested that we headed down to Courchevel village, reassuring me that it would be ok. 
With Mr S by side I felt more confident as we skiied down to the village with Max helping me with the difficult bits, sometimes holding the front of my skiing and sometimes helping me get my balance back.

Once in Courchevel village, we stopped at Le Tremplin for Mr S’s favourite ski drink, hot chocolate with cointreau. It also gave me the chance to really admire fairytale Courchevel village, which Mr S had always described as like being in a movie. I loved the feeling of being there but I still couldn’t stop thinking about how painful the ski boots were and how how hot I was in all my layers.

With not long before lunch Max suggested a final few minutes on the slopes and directed me towards one of the gondolas (small cable cars) regular readers will know that I’m really scared of cable cars but I jumped in without giving myself too much time to get scared and actually felt totally fine as it didn’t go too far off the ground. After a little bit of skiing, it was finally the part of the day I’d most been looking forward to; lunch.

Mr S and I met some friends at legendary Courchevel 1850 restaurant, Cap Horn, a restaurant with a great atmosphere, live DJ and  fabulous view. 
After a few glasses of rosé, I knew I wouldn’t be able to ski in the afternoon plus our early start and hours on the slopes had me exhausted. Max called the hotel who sent a car and within 15 minutes we were back at Aman Le Mélézin. It was such a relief to get the ski boots off and the ski butler pointed out that the way I was wearing my socks may have contributed to them hurting so much. I went back to the room and after about only ten minutes of playing with Instagram, I fell asleep. And that’s how Mr S found me, totally passed out from the day – I’m usually a light sleeper but I was so exhausted but I didn’t even wake up when Mr S came back to the room. I was disappointed to have missed the afternoon, not necessarily skiing but enjoying the town and the hotel. But I would try again tomorrow.

I woke up the next day dreading putting on the boots but I felt like I had made some progress the day before and it would be a real shame not to try again. So with trepidation, we headed back to the ski room and kitted up. I said to Mr S, I’m only doing an hour today, no… forty five minutes…

As I had decided to only do a short amount of time, we would spend the morning together with Mr S’s instructor, Olivier. Olivier wanted me to see the view from the top at least once, and I surprised even myself when I got in a series of cable cars taking us to the highest point. This was the location of Le Panoramic, a beautiful restaurant that I immediately fell in love with and our concierge booked for the next day. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the view and the peacefulness of being surrounded by the mountains. I was also more than a little proud that I faced such a major fear of going in the cable cars…the chairs lifts though? Maybe that’s one for next time. 
We took the cable car back around half way down and Olivier really wanted to take me on some of the proper slopes. We glided along what felt like the edge of the mountain, sometimes skiing alone, sometimes me holding Olivier’s arms, feeling at once terrified and thrilled at the same time. I really was beginning to see why people loved skiing. After about forty five minutes of skiing this way, I was ready to go back and honestly on the point of tears as my muscles felt so tired. As well as my legs working hard, I’d rigidly been holding on to Olivier. Sensing my melt-down, he slowly but surely led me back to Aman Le Mélézin giving me a chance to finally rid myself of those damn ski boots and to take off some of my layers before our lunch at Nammos. 
Once again I felt the electricity of the atmosphere, as we had lunch at another legendary restaurant. Marvelling at how hot and beautiful the sun could feel despite -5 degree temperatures. That afternoon, I opted out of skiing and Mr S was back at around five to go down the village with me for a crepe. On our last day I decided to forgo the skiing entirely with a morning of photo taking, followed by lunch at Le Panoramic, enjoying the spa at the hotel and then heading to the airport at 5pm. 
So what were my final thoughts about my first time skiing. Well as you might have guessed, I didn’t quite take to it. But it was for different reasons to what I thought. I imagined being scared of heights, frightened of falling and freezing cold. Whereas in reality the heights were manageable, the ski instructors never let me fall and it was actually really hot! What I didn’t like was wearing all the layers of clothing, the pain of the ski boots and how tiring it was and hard on the muscles. As someone who exercises every day, I’m used to endurance workouts but I think my overall tension added to how tired I felt. That being said I loved everything else about skiing, from the glamour of the restaurants and bars to the luxury of the hotel and the beauty of the scenery. I’ve promised Mr S that I would 100% go back, but next time I’ll get my own boots!

Have you been skiing? What was your first time like? Were you scared?