Friday, 26 December 2014

Things I don't do anymore: Skiing

Read the previous post on this theme.

Once upon a time in a far away galaxy cross-country skiing was just something everybody did. Small children do not know fear, and as a four-yesr-old I would stand behind my father on a pair of skis, holding onto his trousers, and go down slopes I would never dream of venturing on once I had my own skis. My father had access to the Composers' Union recreation resorts, and we would often spend three or four weeks there every winter. We would go skiing in the morning, in large groups of mostly grownups, and then father would work in the afternoon. There were no considerations of my tender age: three hours of skiing every day, sometimes in heavy snowfall. When I started school I would join my parents on weekends and during vacations. My attitude was ambivalent. Skiing was something you did, no questions. I enjoyed skiing on a frozen river on a sunny day. I loved going down reasonable slopes. But deep inside me I hated it because I had to keep pace with the grownups; I got tired; I remember I would lie down in the snow crying, and refuse to go on, but of course that would be in the middle of a three-hour circuit, and the grownups would have no nonsense.

Yet interestingly enough, when I grow older and could make up my mind, skiing remained an indispensable part of my life. We would go to each other's country cottages in winter to ski, we would go to resorts; skiing was social. Maybe it was because there were so few other things young people of my circles could do: no bars, clubs, discos; and no space in our homes for getting together: few of us had the privilege of a room of our own. Instead, we would go skiing, then have tea or hot wine, sit and chat.

When I moved to Sweden, I bought a pair of skis for myself and my son among the very first purchases, and I know for sure that I used them once, and Sergej probably never. Cross-country skiing wasn't as popular in Sweden as in Russia (at least not as an active rather than spectator sport); most people who liked winter sports preferred slalom. And more important, I had no company, and there was no tradition of going to the country on the weekends for skiing. Maybe I had bad luck or didn't look around properly. Within a couple of years, I learned slalom skiing, which I enjoyed much more than cross-country (the best experiences of childhood skiing were the slopes).

My pair of skis and boots stayed unused until we moved to the UK. They were too old-fashioned even to give away to charity.

I can add that during many years we went slalom skiing at least for the winter vacation week, but it is now at least ten years since. Yet somehow I believe that I might do it again. 

This is a random picture from the web, but it captures the best moments of cross-country skiing

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