So, we’re home, and wow does the UK come as a disappointment after 4 weeks in Canada. Let’s just say one can get spoilt by amazing views, friendly people, fresh air, exercise and hardly any work.
Our final week in Whistler was fantastic. We went out boarding everyday, and the sun finally came out to keep us company. The snow tailed off a bit this week, but we played in powder at the weekend and start of the week and then largely stayed on piste for the last few days. We discovered the fun of going through little tree runs, and experimented with that a bit.
Our aim for the four weeks was to a: not get injured; b: learn to ride powder; c: learn to do jumps; and d: learn to ride â€˜fakieâ€™. By the start of week 4 we felt that we had great experience in powder and had started to conquer riding fakie. We’d had minor injuries, but were still boarding which meant the big stumbling block continued to be jumps, so we spent some time trying to work that out. We tried to do jumps in the terrain garden, but I was quite intimidated by it all. I tried one jump and fell and winded myself and sort of lost my bottle. We were both doing little jumps on regular runs down the mountain, which was excellent, but we were lacking in confidence. So, on Thursday, in glorious sunshine, we went to a quite area up in 7th Heaven and built a tiny jump. It was fun and interesting just building it, but it was excellent actually trying out jumps. We did pretty well and it really built our confidence. I think next trip I’ll be up for getting into jumps a lot more, but I feel I’ve achieved my basic aim of having the confidence to attempt small jumps at the side of runs. Sarah’s confidence, it turns out, was boosted more by having a double espresso, half a packet of peanut butter m&ms and heading down the hill before me. Whatever makes it work, I say!
Our final day was our longest day on the slopes, as it had to be really. We did our first run before 10, and finished the day at about 4.30. We started off slow and gentle, since Sarah had hurt her back a bit and we were pretty tired. As the day went on, though, we started going faster, and tackling more challenging stuff. Key run of the afternoon was the Dave Murray Downhill on Whistler mountain, which is a black run used for downhill racing and set to be the mens super G run in the 2010 Olympics. Wow, there are some steep bits, but we rode it well, making good turns on the steep and maintaining speed on the flat. There had been racing on the run earlier in the week, so it was very well groomed, and we had a real sense of achievement at the end of it.
We headed back to the UK last Saturday, arriving home mid morning on Sunday and back to work on Monday. We’ve been struggling with jet lag, and Sarah’s been working away, so it’s been a bit of a brutal return to London, but I’d rather that than less time in the snow.
A few mini tips to anyone else planning something similar.
- Keep a diary. We started writing down what we’d done each day, and it was really good to be able to look back and see how much we’d done and spot trends. We just tracked where we’d been, but I’d suggest keeping track of the weather, snowfall and injuries / illnesses. It all makes a big difference to how much you can ride, and it helps to remember what was happening. We rode 20 days in total, which was less than I’d hoped for – off days were due to illness / injury or appalling weather.
- Bring a decent camera. Our camera doesn’t work well when it’s cold, so we took pretty much all our pictures using the cameras on our phones. This was ok for small things, but actually rubbish for photos of jumps or the incredible views. Our housemates had good cameras and took little videos with them which were really good fun.
- And, I guess, if you’re going to stay in a shared house and you’re over 25 or not a party animal, think very carefully and talk to the people arranging the accommodation. We were lucky and ended up with a lovely bunch of people, but we heard some horror stories…