I remember when I started skiing back in the 80s the length of skis defined your prowess as a ski demon. The better skier you were, the longer your skis. So you can imagine my dismay that after a break of about 6 years from the mountains I returned in 2005 for my first ski season to be handed a pair of 155 skis from the hire shop. Didn’t they know I’d skied since I was a young child?
I was later to discover that ski technology had changed with the invention of side cut to help us carve and that this was not an affront to my level of skill. This stark change to the shape and design of skis took place in less than a decade so I can only imagine the difference one of our clients must have noted since his first day on skis in 1949. Bob was taking lessons with us in Courchevel recently and I had the pleasure of joining him for a hot chocolate to hear his story….
Bob’s first outing on two planks (literally) came after he joined up for national service in 1949. Hearing that priority for university admissions was given to serviceman he joined the Army medical core and trained as a radiographer when he was posted to Carinthia, Austria. His platoon had captured some of the enemy’s ski equipment, which dated back to the 30’s and to pass their time decided to give these a trial. These were essentially 9ft planks of wood with one groove and no edges and were worn with leather boots which you strapped to the skis. Bob recalls these “bindings” has two settings: one which released every few minutes and ones which never released. It was the latter that resulted in multiple spiral fractures passing through his clinic which was enough to put him off skis for almost 40years, after only 2 days on the hill.
Bob wasn’t idle in this time though. Over the next 40 years he changed his specialism countless times including stints in gynecology, general practice, dental anesthetics, police surgery and report writing for barristers in liability claims before a move to the private sector working in food bacteriology. From our brief conversation I get the feeling that he never sits still for long with tales of his adventures as a mariner, his time in the Cheshire Forest Hunt and more recently his penchant for competitive bridge and creative writing. His tales were those of a man who has really lived and it made me wonder if our generation will ever achieve half of what he has, with so much time spent on our smart phones, and updating our status on social networks.
I was interested to hear when it was that Bob decided to give skiing another go. It was on a dry slope in Bebbington. He recalled another painful memory of nasty burns on the netting which didn’t deter him too much. From here on in he skied each year with friends hunting last minute deals on teletext. I remember well these pages which you had to read super-quick for fear of having to wait for the next 46 pages to play out before this one re-appeared again.
After skiing in various resorts over the years Bob stumbled upon chalet company Le Ski and has never looked back since. He comes back to Le Ski and chalet Rikiki in Courchevel each year and raves about the friendly and amazing service they provide. His friends have one by one dipped out as he put it and he now comes out alone, happy to join other Le Ski regulars on the slopes. At 83 years of age you’ve got to give it to the guy – he knows how to live. If I have half as much energy when I’m half his age I’ll be happy.
It was his parting comment that really said it all though. Bob says he’ll never grow old, he’d rather die first. As life mottos go, that’s got to be up there. With that we bid farewell and I left with a smile on my face and a determination to make each year count.
Au revoir Bob for another year and we look forward to seeing you again on the slopes of Courchevel next year!