Skiing is the ultimate slapstick sport. People dressed like human cannonballs or Pillsbury doughboys (level of padding dependent on level of expertise), armed with metal spokes and leg slats, careening down a mountain marred by moguls and ice…of course ridiculous tumbles and tangles ensue.
I witnessed some spectacular crashes on the Tignes slopes. Probably the best was my friend Isaac hurtling down a bumpy black run…straight into the ‘Ralentir! / Go Slow!’ sign. He took out the orange banner like a bull whipping into a matador’s cape, and continued to tumble down the slopes with it for a good 20m. There was a deathly still moment when all we could detect was a little twitch…then he sprung up (‘Ole!’) and dumped the sign by the side of the run (smart – removing the hazard for other skiers).
Unfortunately I was also involved in a spectacular crash…and ended up in the medical centre on my 3rd day. An older French guy fell right onto my skis as we were getting on the T-bar, the propulsion of the lift causing me to crash down right on the edge of his upturned skis. If this were a dramatic novel I’d say there was a ‘sickening crack as my ribs struck metal’…but in reality all I heard was some weird shrieking noise coming out of my mouth overborne by his profuse ‘Désolé! Désolé!’s.
- I had to spend most of the morning in the waiting room at the Tignes medical centre. I became very well acquainted with the single tatty issue of French Glamour, and the poster of the French food pyramid, which interestingly has pâté where we have chocolate and candy, and suggests a light ‘canoë-kayak’ to burn off the ground liver calories.
- I had a really awkward X-ray where Docteur Gérard asked that I ‘remove my breasts’ as I gingerly hugged the cold metal X-ray machine (I took a few moments before realising he meant bra).
- Fortunately there was no break or obvious fracture, but I have a possible hairline fracture or bruising of the ribs. According to Docteur Gérard I will ‘only be in pain for the next 3 to 4 weeks. No biggie, n’est-ce pas?’
I rested for a day, then took a bunch of painkillers and anti-inflammatories so that I could ski for the rest of the week. I was also determined to enjoy the Varsity parties. One of the best nights was Final Night Party, headlined by Groove Armada and Wilkinson. I don’t actually care about the acts (to give you an idea of my apathy, know that I once bailed on front-row Flume because the venue was a bit stuffy, and the Kooks because my sandals were pinching)…I’m just name-dropping to give you a sense of general crowd enthusiasm.
We had a lot of fun pre-drinking with a big group that we’d met throughout the week (though typical Oxbridge students: what went into the Ring of Fire mix along with rum, Pepsi, rosé and the juice from vodka-soaked Haribo smurfs but vintage Veuve Clicquot!) We gussied up in boilersuits and neon paint, and headed to Le Lac to party. It was an awesome night, though it probably didn’t help my rib sitch getting jostled around in a moshpit, or skiing a full day the next day after like 4 hours sleep.
I’m still breathing like a hummingbird and coughing like Zoolander (‘I think I’m getting the black lung, Pop!’), but it was so worth it. I’m already anticipating Varsity trip as an Oxford alum. Because going as a postgrad wasn’t creepy enough.