Ah, Skiing

Breuil-Cervinia Travel Blog

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This way to Switzerland, that way to Italy....

The week leading up to my first ski trip while living in Italy was filled with all kinds of questions and anticipation.  Anticipation because I realized that I was extremely close to fulfilling a life-long dream of mine, which was to ski in the Alps.  However, more importantly were the 101,000 questions that were flying through my mind all week, the most important being:  did I have all of my ski equipment ready, and was I physically ready to spend a full day skiing alongside of Monte Cervino?  Every time I asked myself the latter of these two questions, I always tried to reassure myself by saying:  "don't worry, Chad, you're young, and it hasn't been THAT long since you've been in the gym.

A gondola going down.
"  But each time I tried to convince myself that being in shape wasn't a pressing issue, there was this creeping doubt and this evil-sounding laughter (coming from somewhere) that I just could not seem to get rid of.   

Anyway, it was before sunrise on Sunday morning when my friend Nicola picked me up.  I took all of my brand new ski equipment to his BMW, hopped in, and off we went, to spend an entire Sunday skiing in the mountains that I had only read about in ski magazines while growing up.  Even though I was hardly able to sleep the night  before, somehow I found myself extremely awake and ready for a day filled with sun, crisp mountain air, and snow-covered mountains.

We ended up arriving at Cervinia around 9 a.

Monte Cervino.
m.  The first thing I did when Nicola parked the car was to check and see if I was still alive.  Literally.  Nicola, you see, thinks that driving is a race against everyone else on the roads, so not only did we make it to Cervinia in record time from my apartment, but we were also PASSING people on the switchback road that lead from the base of the Alps up to Cervinia.  There were three times during our journey where I thought we were for-sure dead.  So not only was I impressed to find myself still alive once we parked the car, but I was even more impressed to see that all four of our skiis were still locked into the ski rack on top of the BMW.  I figured that was either one tough ski rack or 4 extremely obedient skiis.
The slopes.

Now, please keep in mind that this was going to be my first time skiing in over 8 years, and that I was getting ready to ski with brand-new ski equipment.  Brand new everything:  new skiis, new top-of-the-line boots (which ultimately made skiing that much more uncomfortable), a new jacket, new ski pants, you name it, and if it was with me on that day, it was new.  You see, I had taken an 8-year absence from skiing, thanks partly to college and party to living in a terrible location for skiing in the U.S. prior to moving here to Italy.  Ok, thanks mostly to college, where I felt it was more important to party every weekend for four years instead of driving for an hour every Saturday to go skiing. 

But I digress.

Town of Zermatt, Switzerland.
  Back to the story.  We purchased our lift tickets for the day, which let us ski in Italy and also let us cross the country border and ski into Switzerland as well.  We took two gondola lifts to get to the top of the first valley, and I already knew I was going to be in for a long day.  My legs were already shaking from just STANDING in my ski boots.  I thought that actually buckling into my skiis would have provided me with a little bit of comfort, which it did, at first.  But after about 10 minutes of skiing down the slopes into Switzerland, I started feeling that deep muscle burn that told me only one thing:  I was in no shape at all to be out there skiing.  Fortunately for me, Nicola was in just as bad of shape as I was, so we both just took our good old time making our way down to the bottom of the mountain, and into the little Swiss town of Zermatt.
The mountains.
 

After resting for a while at the bottom of  Monte Cervino, Nicola and I decided to take the lift to the observation platform on the top of the Matterhorn (or Monte Cervino, in Italian).  So, after taking a gondola up to the Matterhorn, then taking an elevator inside of the Matterhorn up to the first viewing level, and then climbing about 75 metal steps, I finally made it to the top of the Matterhorn, even though I averted passing out roughly 13 separate times on the way up the stairs.  Once I caught my breath (which was hard to do, since the oxygen 12,000+ feet above sea level is so ridiculously thin), I was able to score some great photos and some great views of the surrounding mountains.  After I totally calmed down did I realize how amazing  everything was from that viewing platform.....and this is when I started to notice the throb coming from my right ankle.

Nicola and I then descended the stairs, took the elevator back down inside of the Matterhorn, collected our skiis, and then made the decision to start skiing back toward the car.  This was when I realized that I had a serious problem....my right ankle was rapidly swelling in my ski boot, thanks to it never healing properly after being severely sprained on two separate occasions.  I honestly had to ski, then stop, ski, then stop, ski, then stop, all the way to a random wooden cabin, that sat in the middle of the Alps and served lunch to skiiers on their way back into Cervinia.  Which is just what the doctor ordered.  So Nicola and I took yet another break for some sausages, polenta, and a great wintertime alcoholic drink called a "bombardino." 

After we finished our afternoon lunch in the Alps, it was only a short distance before we reached the parking lot and the car.  We took off our ski gear, loaded it back into the car, then went wandering around the town of Breuil-Cervinia (I was limping around and not wandering around, thanks a lot, right ankle).  I bought some souvenirs, took a few final pictures of the town and the mountains, and off we went to return in time to get some rest before Monday morning came rolling around.

Now please don't misunderstand me, that is, of course, if you've managed to read all the way to the bottom of this particular blog.  Even though I was totally out-of-shape, the smile on my face never left throughout the whole day.  I had ideas of grandeur about my skiing performance being something that Warren Miller would pay money to film, but even though I was grossy wrong in that respect, I still managed to have one of the greatest ski experiences of my whole entire life.  I can honestly say that I'm looking forward to heading back up into the mountains sometime this coming winter, but of course only after I make sure I'm in better physical condition!  I've learned my lesson, that's for sure!

Aditu says:
Well, isn't that what we were supposed to be doing in college, drinking while earning our second easiest degrees :) I have to say it seems as if you find yourself in just as odd situations as I do AND still make the most of it. I was going to say something about you being older, but I guess I best keep my mouth shut since I'll definitely lose that battle, lol. Obviously I can't even leave you a short comment.
Posted on: Jul 04, 2007
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This way to Switzerland, that way …
This way to Switzerland, that way…
A gondola going down.
A gondola going down.
Monte Cervino.
Monte Cervino.
The slopes.
The slopes.
Town of Zermatt, Switzerland.
Town of Zermatt, Switzerland.
The mountains.
The mountains.
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Breuil-Cervinia
photo by: zeemos