Smells like Tignes Spirit: Varsity Ski Trip 2014

…and I’m back! A bit battered, bruised and absolutely knackered (like a disgruntled grizzly bear I just emerged from a 14 hour slumber) but already I’m wishing I were back in Tignes. Apologies for not posting during the week; the French Alps did offer some spotty wifi, but Instagramming quickly consumed those limited coverage nuggets (priorities, right?).

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I think skiing holidays are the absolute best kind of break! I adore the snowy mountain scenery, and the ambience of lodges decked out with sheepskin throws, crackling fires, decorative antlers and old-timey ski gear. Whereas on beach holidays you battle all-body sunburn and exhaustion from sunstroke, with skiing it’s the right kind of burn (confined to the jowls) and exhaustion (from being super active). I love that you’re required to smash at least a block of chocolate a day to have the energy to keep going, that you can look like crap and wear the same clothes for a week (cold air dulls the olfactory senses. Science, k?). I also adore how social people are because you’re all engaged in this bizarre exercise of strapping metal slats to your feet and trying to make your way down a mountain in one piece.

For me skiing is also bound up in family tradition. My parents went on their first ski trip when they were at Uni in the 70s: it wasn’t such a popular pursuit so they showed up in Levis and washing up gloves none-the-wiser as to what skiing actually involved. My first time at the snow I was 3 years old*, and evidently not super stoked about it…

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…but we were lucky enough to go almost every year when I was young (we live a couple of hours away from the Snowy Mountains in Australia, and my parents had a lot of “conferences” at ski resorts) and I came to anticipate those trips more eagerly than Christmas (which for a greedy, pudding-loving child was a big deal).

Before I even chose my Oxford subjects I planned for Varsity Ski Trip (ie. watched Chalet Girl and Out Cold, and reserved 50% of my packing space for ski gear). I’d been on a college ski trip in my fresher year at USyd which was so much fun. However, Australia doesn’t really have an après ski culture, so the 25 of us were confined to hanging out in our lodge. One night we braved the cold to trek 5km to a pub that was completely deserted save for 2 leery men gyrating to T.I., but mostly we spent our down time watching America’s Next Top Model. It was a week of pained Tyra impressions.

Varsity Ski Trip was something else entirely. 3000 Oxford and Cambridge students descending on Tignes, lessons and races every day, après at VarCity every afternoon, an event every night…there was nothing half-arsed about this ski trip.

Updates will follow, but for now I’m going to clamber back into my bed and recover!

*Text update from my Mum: “Your first ski was at Perisher Blue at the tender age of 2 years 7 months. They weren’t allowing kids under 3 in ski school but they took you in after I convinced them that you were definitely toilet trained.” Fantastic stuff.

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