“The fastest I’ve done is 128km per hour. That’s about 70mph!” “Really? That’s about the same as me!” claimed a youthful American accent, concurring with London. Both a little too loudly for the confines of a crowded gondola. “You need the right slope. One that is steep and then flattens off.” they added, for everyone’s benefit.
Such claims should not go unchallenged, but our eyes met and we kept our counsel. We didn’t really want to bother to engage or discuss the fact that with speeds like that, they should be in the Olympic team.
As we alighted from the gondola, Mark whispered in my ear “There was a strong smell in there.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “Of Bullsh…”
Some things don’t need to be spoken between man and wife. With not so much as a glance between us, we watched them ski off as we faffed around, tightening the buckles on our boots and clipping on our skis. It is always nice to observe what technique Bravado chooses when out skiing on hired equipment. We both knew exactly how this was going to play out.
We overtook them easily. Mark, it seemed, had forgotten how to turn. He just pointed his skis downhill and went like a rocket, skiing parallel straight down the black run. Well. It was the right kind of slope. It was steep and then flattened off.
I just slipped past them on the inside of the first bend. We kept the pressure on, since we didn’t want them to catch us up. 7km later there was no sign of them as we quietly clipped off our skis at the bottom of the piste in Alagna. As we rose sedately in the gondola to Pianalunga, we saw them walking along the road to catch the lift. “There’s the 70mph club!” I said to Mark. No doubt they were discussing the fact that there is no slight to your masculinity in being left for dead by two fifty-somethings after bragging about how fast you are. Even when one of the fifty-somethings is a girl.
Part of the thrill of our favourite sports, windsurfing and skiing, is being just on the edge of control. That feeling that you are nailing it, just, but knowing that one false move and everything will go horribly wrong in an instant. Pushing the envelope. That’s when the adrenaline really kicks in!
Our Valkyrie ride down the black run, Olen, to Alagna had blurred that edge a bit today, however. It shifted our thrill radar from control firmly towards speed. Also, we were bristling with the need for excitement, following our taste of forbidden fruit during our off piste course. So we made the decision that we would ski the resort from end to end and back – and managed it in 3.5 hours! Not bad when we were held up by having to queue for not one but two full cable cars at Pianalunga! We skied the black, Moos, as though it was the Hahnenkamm. I went so fast that I actually took off as I went over the brow on one of the pitches. “In control?” Mark asked me; “Um. Not exactly!”
Of course, pushing the limits, it was only ever going to end one way. On a chairlift, we were complimented on our ‘His ‘n Hers’ skis. That was very topical, since it just followed our ‘His ‘n Hers’ fall! We were flying down from the top of Salati and I went for The Full Monty! I caught a ski edge and dropped my pole as I cartwheeled through the air before sliding down the mountain head first and on my back. This vantage afforded me a great view of Mark.
Coming down behind me, he decided to do the gentlemanly thing and pick up my pole. Since he was almost on top of it and moving like a bullet, it was always going to be a plan of spectacularly daring ambition. As I looked across the slope and caught his eye, he was suspended in free fall on the other side of the piste. We slid down the mountain in unison, laughing like lunatics. It was our first fall on-piste for two-and-a-half months and who knows, careering down the mountain on our backsides, we might even have hit 70mph.
Well. It was the right kind of slope!
Join us next time and see how we cope with being STRANDED!
If you have missed any part the story so far, check out my Ski page, which lists all of my winter blogs in chronological order. Fur Babies in France is where you can get up to date with our first year’s caravan adventures, while BC – Before Canines is host to some of the adrenaline-fueled adventures that we had before the Fab Four came into our lives.
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