Be As Happy As Larry
The medical world now accepts that the winter months can cause depression. They’ve even got a name for it: Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD (you can see what they did there).
All right, so it might not always be a serious form of depression, but it at least gives you a good excuse to fly off somewhere to avoid those winter blues. Why not plan your next trip as a form of depression help? Now, one way to do just that is to seek out more sunlight, and another is to stimulate those endorphins in the brain by taking part in plenty of physical exercise. Do both of these and you’ll be as happy as Larry. (Though who Larry is and why he should be so happy is a moot point.)
Skiing, of course, ticks both boxes. The winter sun that’s reflected everywhere by the snow, provides lots of lovely sunlight, and skiing, which involves the use of countless muscles, is excellent exercise.
If you’re a novice, don’t be deterred from the sport. I nearly was when I first tried it at the French resort of Avoriaz with a large group of seasoned skiers. That, of course, was my first big mistake. Whatever you do, don’t go with a large group who have been before. Know your limitation and stick to the junior slopes with other fledgling skiers (or non-skiers). And for heaven-sake, don’t take part in a torch lit procession by night, no matter how easy they tell you it is. It isn’t. Fortunately, I had the good sense to give this a wide berth. But one poor chap came back on a stretcher, having sustained two broken ribs and several nasty bruises where he had failed to get out of the way of the odd pine tree.
My other big mistake was not going to that other resort in the French Alps, Les Arcs. Because this is the place where a very sensible and effective method of teaching skiing is employed; it’s called Ski Evolutif. And basically it involves starting out on very short skis, which are wonderfully easy to manoeuvre in. So from word go, you learn how to parallel ski without tripping over your own full length skis that are taller than you. And as your confidence grows, your instructor will issue you with slightly longer skis. By the end of week one I was skiing properly on full length skis. And believe me, when you do get the hang of it, it comes naturally, and is most exhilarating to feel yourself sliding along at some considerable speed.
Les Arcs itself isn’t especially pretty. It’s a purpose-built resort for skiers so the place is filled to the gills with shops selling every conceivable piece of skiing paraphernalia you could possibly need. But then, if you’re only here for the skiing, it really doesn’t matter. Indeed, many experienced skiers prefer such resorts because the ski slopes and ski lifts are quite literally on your doorstep.
I have since tried to persuade my wife to try skiing on numerous occasions but have failed miserably. Yet I still live in hope that perhaps one day she will see the light.
Alex Pearl is a freelance copywriter and is the author of ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds.’