>> Monday, 13 February 2012
I am Knackered. (Note the capital 'K'. That means I'm really knackered, honest.)
So you've finally become what you can proudly refer to as 'an adequate downhill skier'. Sure, it's taken you 16 years of bruises, strains, aching muscles, embarrassing falls on the flat, freakouts on gentle slopes, temper tantrums with your husband when the easy blue he suggested suddenly became an icy red, and one or two tangles with snow-boarders, but after many years of effort you now feel reasonably confident with a couple of bendy boards strapped to your feet.
You can do it. Not elegantly, perhaps. Certainly not stylishly. And with precious little technique, it has to be said. But for what seems like the first time in all those years, you finally feel when skiing downhill that amazingly, you are no longer the worst skier in the group. Not even the second worst.
What better time, then, to take on a new challenge? Like, say, cross country skiing? I mean, you live in Moscow, where cross country skiing is the outside exercise of choice for many during the long winter. (Well, that and skating, but you aren't quite crazy enough to try that one; there's throwing yourself down a mountain at high speed and then there's stepping onto a frozen lake with a couple of razors beneath your feet and trying to survive the experience without any broken bones. No, I'll leave that to my kids, thanks very much...)
So you go out, buy what I can only describe as the most subterranean of bargain basement kit (as your Dutch - for which read 'careful with money' - Husband points out; there's no point spending too much cash on this just in case you don't enjoy it), and head off into the nearby forest with some girlfriends to work up a sweat and take in the sunshine on this frosty -10degC day, where you discover the following:
- · You still know how to fall on the flat.
- · There is still no way on earth to do that stylishly.
- · This cross-country ski lark is bloody hard work (although if I keep it up I fully expect to have buns of steel by the end of February, based on the amount of pain my muscles are in today)
- · It's just as possible to end up on top of a frozen lake - albeit covered with snow - when you're skiing as skating.
- · Serious Russian cross country skiers get quite cross if they find their way blocked by a group of chattering women stopped to admire the naked - yes, NAKED - 50 year old lady taking a dip in the ice hole at the edge of said frozen lake (Jesus, just ski around us - there's a whole lake to use, for goodness’ sake!).
- · There is a one-way system on the lake. A ONE WAY SYSTEM, you stupid foreign woman...
- And yes, last but not least; you are once again the worst skier in the group.
(As I said to the friends I was out with; it's so nice to find a sport at which I'm a natural after all these years....)