To ski, or not to ski. That is the question.
I got an invitation from good family friends to join them on their ski trip in France back in April 2014.
I am a boarder. Snowboarding is hands down my most favourite sport. Back in the days when I was finishing my high school in Vancouver, I would go up to Cypress mountain every other week or so and board until the mountain closed. After leaving Canada in 2004, I never got the chance to go snowboarding, but I every single day I daydreamed of riding fresh powder.
Then the invitation came. Saiphin and Alex are my very good friends despite the almost-20-year age difference. They and their friends take their children on a road trip to France every year to ski, and that year they planned to go to La Champagny or Champagny En Vanoise.
La Champagny is a very small little village adjacent to La Plagne. La Plange is a part of Paradiski, the 2nd largest linked ski domain in the world with over 425km of pistes (plus some incredible amount of skiable off-piste area!). Paradiski is very expensive, but thanks to Angus, a friend of Alex, who worked as a ski instructor in Europe for decades and hence knew where would be the best place to go within our budget. He explained that if we stay at La Champagny, we could go to La Plagne everyday as well as Les Arc on some days.
At first I was afraid, I was petrified. Kept thinking I could never keep up with them when I ride…
Ok, not really, but I did feel it was intimidating for me to join them. They are good skiers, while I only boarded for 1 season before in my life, AND I had not boarded in 10 years! Though everyone tried to convince me to trust my muscle memory, I was still worried I would slow everyone down. To go, or not to go? I asked myself.
But it was my most favourite sport in the world and I would never know when the opportunity would come again. Also, it is a sport which requires a lot of strength, endurance and courage. It is best to do it when one is fit, healthy and in a good physical condition, and so it is something that couldn’t really wait.
On top of that, I like challenges. Once a wise man told me that if I joined a class and I was the best one there, then it meant I was in the wrong class. In my opinion, sometimes you have to know your limits, then ignore them.
And that became one of the best trips I have ever had. Why? It made me realise that if you have the determination and mind power to do something which seems so difficult or barely possible, on most occasions you CAN do it–even if it is something you have not done in a decade. It only took my muscle memory a few hours to get back on its track, and I actually improved quite significantly towards the end of the trip. In addition to that, this trip also took my friendship with Saiphin and Alex to another level. I haven’t mentioned about their 5-year old son Noah who, after seeing me snowboarding on the trip, finally started to think that I’m “kinda cool”.
If you have skied or snowboard, you would understand that though it is a solo-person sport, it is usually much more enjoyable when you cruise down the slope with your friends, your better half, or your children.
And of course Beer o’lock is a strict requirement. For some reason I feel it is sort of rewarding. Perhaps, for this trip, at the back of my mind it was a form of celebration for the fact that I was still alive (despite the fact that half the skin on my feet were peeling off due to bad blisters). Oh, and who can possibly say ‘NO’ to hot chocolate on the mountains? You would agree they are the best Hot Chocolates in the world, with or without a shot of rum or whiskey.
But if anyone would prefer having a DOG PANINI then be my guest…
Of course my Travelling Masquerade wanted to come out and play too, especially when it knew I was then fuelled with alcohol and was just a little out of my mind.
To sum up, it was a great trip. It was a very smart move to get a chalet for a week in La Champagny. It saved us a lot of expenses, and getting to La Plagne each day was not so much of a pain. At the bottom of the village gondola there was a nice little square surrounded by small shops, cafes and, most importantly, PUBS. On some days when you reckoned you hadn’t consumed enough alcohol OR were not burnt enough from the sun, you would find yourself drinking excessively there in the sun. Lastly, in spite of the absence of snow on lower altitude (as we were there in April), La Champagny was still quite pretty–both in the sun and storm!
The view, the struggle and the good time with my Travelling Masquerade.
A Bee’s Journey