Published: March 28th 2009March 6th 2009
When we got tired of skiing and snowboarding my friends and I took a break here - some luscious Italian hot cocoa and some time in the sun chairs overlooking the mountains are just what you need after a few hard runs.
Beautiful town in the Italian Alps + good italian food + good friends + much improved snowboarding = a triumphant snow boarding weekend
Courmayeur, a quaint and tiny Italian ski town at the foot of Mont Blanc, was the site of this year's ski trip. Last year when I went to Switzerland
my snowboarding skills were fledgling at best. I had a patient and brilliant coach but still got frustrated quickly, fell constantly and wore myself out because I was fighting the board so much. Before this year's trip I was determined to have a little better handle on the sport. I set some small goals for myself:
1. Don't look like an idiot all weekend.
2. Don't fall off the button lift repeatedly like last year.
3. Maybe learn how to link turns?
4. Be able to leave the bunny slope and make it down a legitimate hill without having a heart attack or suffering major bodily injury.
To that end, the weekend before the trip I signed up for a snowboarding lesson at the Milton Keynes snow dome. This is a bizarre snow-filled indoor mini-ski park at a shopping mall in the suburbs outside
These strangely shaped low-hanging blimp-like clouds must occur quite often because we found a bunch of paintings of clouds that looked just like this at an art store in town.
London. I had a 3 hour lesson and at the end of it was feeling bruised and tired but much more comfortable on the board.
Once in Courmayeur, I signed up for yet another lesson. My Italian instructor on that sunny but frigid Friday morning was a bit impatient with me I thought and really put me through my paces but by the end of the two hours with him I was a veritable expert at the button lift, was linking turns with relative ease and was generally feeling like quite the snowboarding badass.
I took a break for lunch with the rest of the group and then really good things started to happen - I took a lift up to the top of a blue run and made it all the way down without falling! I tried a red run a few times as well and that was icier and scarier but still fine. My friends and I did various blue and red runs over the course of two days and by the end I was linking turns even on steeper parts of the course and having a ball. I still fell occasionally when getting off the
School is in session
The ski school and mountains behind.
chairlift or on tricky bits when my legs were tired, and I'm certainly not very fast or graceful coming down the mountain, but it was such a marked improvement over last year and so much fun.
Having accomplished all the small goals I had set, I was feeling quite proud of myself and was happy to have lots of good friends around to help me celebrate the victory. At our big group dinner on Saturday night at a charming restaurant in the pedestrian-only part of town we had lots of wine, toasts with grappa, group sing-a-longs and a four course Italian feast -- the perfect way to celebrate and top off a successful and fun Alpine weekend.
There are more photos below