“…the wind began to moan and groan:
away off in the distance she seemed to hear
a voice crying –
“Who’s got my hairy toe?
Who’s got my hairy toe”
So there I was out on the magic carpet on Day 2. Initially, we were going to ski across to the quad chair and head over to Happy Valley. However, my lesson was at 3.00 and so I’d done an hour of practice that morning and my legs were tired and almost out of action. That meant that we stayed on the carpet to improve my technique instead.
While this might seem less challenging than taking on the mountain, it was hard work. We were almost moving in slow motion to improve my technique and my muscles were working hard. Ursina addressed this directly. By working on my technique and how I positioned my weight and my body, the aim was to ski more efficiently. In particular, the plan was to snowplough less and to use my turns to slow me down which put much less pressure on my legs. Of course, I felt quite awkward trying to get my body and my brain to work together when they were both feeling equally awkward and jerky. I really had to switch my brain into high gear and it was jolting in protest all the way.
Not unsurprisingly, I’ve never been an athlete and aside from my violin lessons (yes, playing the violin is physical as much as musical), I haven’t given much thought to which body part you stick where to maximise performance. I’m not that into physics or how things work either. I just like to press a button and everything goes! It just goes!!
While I had been a bit apprehensive about having a different instructor, the lesson went really well and I was comfortable straight away. Indeed, I had 3 different instructors during the week and this turned out really well. They were all adaptive ski instructors, which means they are specially trained to teach people with disabilities and serious illness. Yet, what I found particularly beneficial was that each of my instructors had their own perspective or box of tricks and this really helped to consolidate my technique and I improved so much. Of course, it was also very beneficial to have private lessons so we could work intimately on my technique one-on-one. This meant that we were focusing on exactly what I needed to change to improve. That’s the benefit of having a private lesson and thanks to the special rates for DWA members, the lessons were half price. I also found that while each instructor had their own approach, they briefed each other really well so my lessons fitted seamlessly together, building up my performance brick by brick. I was really impressed at how it all came together and so was Tom when he came back. I wasn’t an expert but I was in the flow.
Getting back to my big toe, when was the last time you seriously thought about what your big toe was doing? I mean, don’t you just shove a sock on it and hide it in a shoe?!! Okay, so I admit that I occasionally cut my toe nails and might scream and hop about when I drop something bang right on top of it but otherwise my big toe is the very much neglected thing at the end of my foot.
That all changed in this ski lesson where I had to focus all my energy on putting my weight on my big toe.
Well, I’m sure my lesson involved more than my big toe but that was the focus. I know she explained the theory at the time but now that I’m back home in front of my lap top, the explanations aren’t coming back to me. That’s probably because I filed it somewhere under “physics” and I’m much better with things filed under “p” for “photography” and “poetry” instead. There’s actually a lot of physics involved in skiing. However, I’ll cheat and consult my in-house physics expert. I promise to keep the physics lesson short and sweet. That way neither of us will turn into geeks.
Actually, Geoff was otherwise occupied watching the last lap of his car race so I resorted to Google.
Just as well I did Google those big ski toes. Turns out that you only put your weight on your big toe to turn. If I hadn’t checked that out, you could have been skiing turning round and round in eternal circles getting dizzy. Obviously, I am not a certified or otherwise ski instructor. I’m still an awkward, fumbling beginner. Now, I remember that I had to straighten myself up in between turns and have my skis parallel. I think that’s how it went. As I said, physics isn’t my thing and I have a memory like a goldfish but I still remember that verse from primary school:
“Who’s got my hairy toe?
Who’s got my hairy toe”
For some strange reason, every time my instructor mentioned my big toe, I heard those words echo in my head.
No doubt you’ve heard this poem/story at school or beside camp fire. As much as this haunting verse used to scare the begeebies out of me, I absolutely loved it…especially the ending where the narrator shouts out: “You’ve got it!!!” and you totally leap out of your skin and then laugh your head off. For some strange reason, there’s something about scary stories that makes kids laugh. Weird!
Anyway, enough of big toes, hairy toes and scary monsters.
I still had to get myself off the magic carpet and down a mountain.That’s been my challenge all along.
Not only getting back up that big, bad scary mountain but also skiing all the way down.
That’s right. Turning my mountain around for a second time. I was getting close. So very close and yet…
I could feel one hell of a headache coming on!!
The ski journey continues…