I’m fairly confident that I was the only person to arrive in Val Thorens, France on opening weekend without ski pants or ski gloves. While I’ve always been the fearless type, my rational, over-thinking adult mind had convinced me that I wasn’t a skier, and that breaking both legs would be a terrible way to end 2014. I figured I would delight in the full schedule of events that Club Med Val Thorens had planned for their inaugural weekend — spa treatments, live music, dance parties, rock climbing and lots of après ski. But when we ascended into the Alps from Albertville to Les 3 Vallées and entered a wonderland of wintery magic, I realized what a fool I’d be if I didn’t learn how to ski here. I hit a local ski shop, hesitantly dropped 200 Euro on a pair of ski pants and braced myself for my first lesson. That’s where each of us met our instructors from the prestigious Ecole du Ski Français (ESF). They are the masters of these mountains, and they could ski every twist and turn with their eyes closed. In fact, they actually do ski blindfolded to practice how to teach blind students. Extremely badass.
I can imagine that teaching adult beginners is pretty boring when you yourself have been skiing since you were three. But our instructor, Yann, had the patience of Job. He taught us the basics: how to put on our skis, how to get off the chair lift without eating it, and snowplough, or as he endearingly called it, “snow plug.” Okay, I was doing it all wrong at first — leaning back, arms tense, no contact with the front of my boots — but I was getting down the mountain. Three lessons later, I was hooked. I mean, totally loving it. The anxiety melted away and time flew.
A few of us decided to take one final run on our last day. The weather at the base of the lift was dark and cloudy. After a one-minute vertical climb through the clouds, this is what we saw. I couldn’t help but revel in the metaphor. Such beauty awaits on the other side of fear. You just have to trust yourself to be able to see it.
Many thanks to the whole team at Club Med Val Thorens Sensations for the incredible adventure.