Anglo-German musings on cross-country skiing
I’m a snow bunny. Throw in to the equation a pair of skis, reasonably attractive functional attire, a big breakfast, a day pass – and all you’ll see is a snow cloud I’ll leave in my wake, after racing down the Austro-Bavarian mountains. I am not the sportiest person on the planet, but skiing is an exception to the rule, what with having picked up the ropes at the tender age of four.
But I am also curious by nature, gutsy and gung-ho, verging on stupidity at times, which are rather English traits. Sometimes being of dual nationality means that opposing character traits will come into force, creating huge internal conflicts of interests. In my case it’s unfortunately the foolhardy, risk-taking and adventurous streak coming out triumphant, tossing all my Germanic safety objections to one side. For the ultimate experience, the ultimate kick. You only live once, or in Instagram-speak: “YOLO”.
I seriously thought that after hitting it off with hiking (a jackpot experience-wise, thank you, B.!), nothing could really go wrong with any new challenge in the realm of sports. Especially in my natural habitat, my beloved mountains. That’s why I decided within a split-second I’d try my hand a cross-country skiing.
A really interesting example of conflicting character traits (and sheer stupidity for that matter). My intrinsically Germanic sense of infallibility led to the false, somewhat arrogant belief that “cross-country skiing must be a doddle for anyone who’s been skiing for more than three decades!” In anticipation of the great adventure lying ahead of me at the end of the week filled the British side of me with trepidation and excitement. The German in me packed the knapsack the evening before, to cover all eventualities (snow storm, World War III, dehydration, landing of aliens in the Bavarian Alps).
I set off early on Sunday morning with three other girls, heading towards the picturesque resort of Bayrischzell near Tegernsee. Nothing could stop us now, the weather was sublime, the snow conditions picture-book perfect.
I felt invincible (German hegemony, any one?) – nothing could stop me indeed. Not even these asparagus-lookalikes in the guise of cross-country skis.
I handed over my credit card at the ski rental, picked up my kit for the day and gayly sauntered over to the beginner’s cross-country skiing trail.
I felt a huge surge of adrenaline pushing through my veins, all the more after seeing an amazingly graceful (and inevitably very experienced) cross-country skier set off, swan/Natalie Portman-like.
Suffice it to say that MY take-off was everything but elegant. Blur out Natalie Portman, zoom in foolish Brit swaying sidewise like a drunken sailor to then clumsily fall, Bridget-Jones like on the softest part of my anatomy. My bum.
And the rest of the gang not suitably impressed with my ineptitude in getting up – the German in me felt humiliated to the core, the English in me laughed it off. Internally, that is.
It goes without saying that my German sense of perfection took a hard knock. How could I not have foreseen this! How embarrassing!
And in due course, my strong Germanic aversion towards taking risks dampened my British fervour for good.
Literally. I timidly shuffled along the 2-km trail, scared to death of going down the tiniest of bumps, imagining torn ligaments and being out of action for the rest of the year.
The cautious, dutiful German in me soaked up my friend’s instructions for first-time country skiers; the hedonistic Brit in me tossed the skis to one side after 2 runs.
To soak up the sun, have a well-deserved alcoholic beverage and enjoy life. And a heart-warming, German potato-soup with sausages.