Craig Gibbons' Lifeblog lifeblog://tri.eat.net

31Mar/050

Flims – Laax – Falera, Snowboarding in Switzerland

This past Easter weekend, Laura and I went with friends Mike and Shan to Flims in Switzerland to engage in 3 gruelling days of skiing and snowboarding in the Swiss Alps. We decided on Flims as our destination after reading about the more salient features of this resort in the "Good Ski Guide". According to the guide, Flims has such prized benefits as "resort charm", "good off-piste activity" and an even balance of runs for the beginner, amateur and professional skier/snowboarder alike. Without bigging it up too much, I think it's fair to say this past weekend has been just about the most recklessly fun experience since my days as a young tyke hacking it around a dirk track on a motocross bike. We arrived in Zurich on Thursday night and drove the 90 minutes to Flims in our rental estate car, stopping only briefly to try out a roadside McDonalds, which is apparently quite a hot spot around 11pm. We checked into the Hotel Best Western Des Alps around midnight and crashed hard. The next morning conditions on the mountain weren't looking great, but we decided to venture up the mountain for the afternoon session and it's well we did. An experienced skier may have considered it a waste of time, but for the beginner, the consistency of the snow being roughly equivalent to the aftermath of a collision between a two feather trucks, the surface was all the better to take spills on and spills I did take. I'd originally thought the best way to master snowboarding was to quite simply do it! Reflecting upon those days on the dirt track, nobody ever won a race or stayed on the bike by being cautious. The way to get round was to go gung-ho and worry about the injuries later on. This strategy works well as an infallible 8 year old with bones as pliable as young bamboo shoots and a penchant for fearless headlong reckless abandon, but now some 20 years later, self preservation has kicked in and I now know that fear is necessary, fear is good and fear is useful. So, taking off cautiously and with a great sense of trepidation and excitement, Laura instructed me in the rudimentaries of snowboarding, learning at first to "edge" and becoming more and more brave as the day wore on. By the time the lifts were closing, I could stay vertical for around 30 seconds and was just starting to link turns. The next two days were equally excellent apart from one spill which left me feeling like a skipping stone that made it all the way across the pond only to impact squarely with a concrete dam wall, and later what can only be described as the mountains biggest faux pas of the season, when falling going up a T-bar lift. On the way down I lost grip of my board and watched in horror as it launched its self, projectile like, at very nonplussed skiers bringing up the rear. The adrenalin of the experience served me well for the 15 minute walk, covering a mere 100 meters, back to the bottom in knee-deep snow, probably a fair penance exacted by the mountain. Flims its self is a beautiful place with all the quaint charm of a postcard perfect Swiss alpine ski village, oh and did I mention property prices to match? The 4 days spent there will be recorded in the grey-matter as an excellent vacation to be repeated whenever and wherever possible.

http://www.laax.com

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