• Sweden edition
Five reasons I can't stand skiing: an Aussie's pain

Five reasons I can't stand skiing: an Aussie's pain

Published: 09 Feb 2012 14:22 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Feb 2012 14:22 GMT+01:00

Having just returned from a ‘horror ski trip’, The Local’s resident Aussie and first-time skier Oliver Gee wonders why Swedes find such pleasure in hurling themselves down snowy hills.

The Spanish Boot was a torture interrogation method involving an iron boot (sometimes with spikes on the inside) and a victim’s foot.

A little applied pressure could apparently get a lot of quick talking.

The reason I know this is because a lady on my ski lift, in the Swedish ski haven of Sälen, explained to me in detail recently the similarities between the Spanish Boot and her ski boot. She told me she couldn’t feel her feet any longer, but she beamed as she said it.

Another ski-slope screwball, I thought as we alighted, and I watched as she sailed over a ramp she hadn’t seen and snapped her finger in half upon impact with the snow.

This ramp was on a “green run”.

A green run, for those of you who weren’t born on the slopes, is designed for beginners. Like me. So what was a ramp doing there?

The website for Hundfjället, the ski area within Sälen where my recent misadventures took place, in fact, refers to green slopes as “very easy”, but it also refers to the mountain getaway as “a ski paradise for people of all ages”, so I don’t know what to believe.

Their green slopes were not easy, and their paradise was closer to a hell (frozen over).

The fact that the shoulder I dislocated was only the third least serious injury in our cabin of six should help you understand my frustration.

But it wasn’t just my lack of finesse on the slopes that left me reeling, there was a lot more to it than that. At least five more things, I thought.

So, as I nursed my shoulder back to health, I had time to reflect and came up with a list of the five main reasons I hate skiing:

1. The discomfort

This is perhaps what gets most people complaining. The clothes are often big, heavy, sweaty and prickly. The temperature inside your suit is harder to get right than the water in a youth hostel shower. It also might be the only occasion in history where a suit of armour would be both safer and more comfortable.

The weather is below freezing. There are “button” lifts that drag you along by your own anus. Mine hit me in an even more inopportune place during a rushed attempt to lodge it while trying to steer my skis and hold on to my ski-sticks at the same time.

Talk about piste-off.

And, even on a perfect day, you’ll be coming home with sore legs.

2. The danger

There is a hospital located at the bottom of the slope (that alone raised my suspicions), a helicopter on call, first-aid snow-scooters ready, and everyone is wearing helmets. Plus some people, who may or may not have control (how can you know at that speed?), are whizzing by you on pieces of plastic designed to go as fast as possible.

There are slippery ice patches. There are fences, poles and trees left, right and centre.

There was even one slope called “The Wall” (Väggen), one of Europe’s steepest slopes, where people with a death wish can exceed 200 kilometres an hour. No thank you!

Plus there was some dangerous winter fashion going on, but this was Dalarna, and that’s another story...

3. The kids

They are all better skiers than me. OK, this is a childish reason, but it still put me off. Kids were passing me backwards as I slip-slided away on my backside.

These smarmy little brats with their mohawked helmets and tiny skis were better than I will ever be, and they seemed to know it too.

I eventually knocked one over (unintentionally of course).

4. The price tag

If you haven’t forked out for your own equipment already, skiing must be the most expensive popular leisure activity around. There’s cabin accommodation, lift passes, ski hire… and it’s all downhill from here.

I made the sensible choice of taking a lesson too, and that in itself was 1,000 kronor ($150) – 1,500 for two – and I STILL can’t do that sideways stop that sends a little snow flying through the air.

5. The senselessness

I asked veteran skiers about why they liked skiing so much. “The freedom” they said, “the fresh air”, “the companionship”.

These things are surely available on the mountain with no skis attached.

What about the actual act of skiing, I asked. “There is the constant sense of improvement”, they told me.

Why not play golf? I must be missing something.

What I can understand are the snowboarders, with their breathtaking jumps, swoops, spins and flips. Probably more dangerous of course, but at least you’re not just getting from top to bottom on repeat.

Speaking of senselessness, a young boy in my own group needed immediate surgery after a shoulder injury, and then half an hour later, on the exact same slope, a 25-year-old man died after a snowboarding accident.

On a green slope.

I seriously wonder if it would be wise to take up the offer of another ski trip next year. Sure, there will be some companionship, fresh air, and freedom -- but can't you find those things on Mediterranean beaches too?

Oliver Gee (oliver.gee@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:11 February 9, 2012 by klubbnika
I would advise to start with cross-country skiing.

Much less harmfull and much more fun.

Burns a hellova lot of calories too.

Slalom is for snobs. :)
15:21 February 9, 2012 by Vill
A skier can do the same "breathtaking jumps, swoops, spins and flips" as the snowboarders. It just takes more talent to accomplish the tricks on skis. :Þ
15:51 February 9, 2012 by Iraniboy
A first-time skier is not eligible to talk about pros and cons of skiing!
16:29 February 9, 2012 by farnoxo
I was a late starte with skiing (first time when I was 36) and although I have been blessed with very good balance (so I had very few falls), it still took a good number of hours on the slopes before I lost the constant fear of death or serious injury. Finally last year at Åre after quiet a few ski trips I finally could say that I actually enjoyed skiing for the first time, but before that I have to agree - I simply didn't see the point!
17:00 February 9, 2012 by zooeden
I smell chiken!!! Its like if this people come from North Korea !!! This is the kind of people who deserve to be buried by avalanches!!!
17:05 February 9, 2012 by roaringchicken92
Good point, klubbnika. Always new scenery, too, and the scenery rarely involves the inside of an ambulance.

Ride up, slide down. Ad infinitum. Turning the myth of Sisyphus into horrible, expensive reality.
17:38 February 9, 2012 by zircon
Yes, how do they do it?
21:53 February 9, 2012 by dizzymoe33
You know what I love about ski trips the most? Staying in the sauna outside or hanging around the room where you are nice and toasty and safe!!! :o)
01:46 February 10, 2012 by blik
Oh, take a teaspoon of concrete (Betong) and harden the f*** up.

Send this pansy home with his secondary school standard essay.
09:13 February 10, 2012 by Bones
Nice one blik. I second that.

Another negative, derogatory article posted by The Local. Can't believe the crap I've been reading recently in the forums and the articles. I think it's time to move on...
11:39 February 10, 2012 by Aussiepride

I am embarrassed! Just to let everyone know this guy is in the 1% of the male population! We aren't all like that by far! I love this country and I love their traditions (skiing and snowboarding included). This is why I moved here!

If you don't like it go back to the 30 to 40 degree days and stop embarrassing me!
12:09 February 10, 2012 by N18h7m4r3
What an article full of skit...

Here are my humble two words on this article.

The green slope is not for the first timers but for beginners. There are special areas at almost all the ski resorts for first timers called as "nybörjarsområde".

1. Discomfort

What are big heavy clothes? Get a proper skiing outfit instead. They are neither heavy nor big. One might need some extra layers if skiing in -10 or colder.

Weather below freezing? Yes I got it you wanted it to be nice 25 degrees right? Oh did I forget that you are here for a sunny beach holiday, feels like I did.

It is possible though If one likes to go skiing even when its +5 to +15 degrees up in Åre around March - April.

Button lifts? Who asked to use them if you don't like it. Get in a chair lift or a cabin lift.

Sore legs? You get them if you don't use the skis in a proper way. One learns very fast to do so.

2. Danger

Hospital, helicopter on call, first aid snow scooters, helmets. All this would make me feel more safe. If done within one's limit and without doing anything stupid one can always avoid seeing a hospital.

Another reason for all this is because most of the ski resorts are in the middle of nowhere, away from a big city. Its obvious (for most of us) and good that there are all these facilities.

Who is asking to go väggen? In a similar fashion why did you not mention the off pist skiing and avalanches.

And what exactly is a "dangerous winter fashion"???

You definitely are a chicken

3. The kids

The kids you see probably have been doing it for more than 10th times in life and are better and faster at learning.

They are small and light and therefore they do not fall too hard or hurt themselves very bad. And ofcourse they haven't developed the fear of falling yet.

4. The price tag

As if you suddenly were robbed of all the money. Skiing is cheaper than a vacation to some warm country.

As far as ski school is concerned, 1000 SEK is what an stupid pays for one lesson. Most of the ski schools (group classes) cost 700 SEK for 3 days with almost 6 hours of schooling.

Ofcourse you didn't learn anything since you were wondering about how expensive is the school.

No teacher can teach you unless you go out by yourself and practice.

5. The senselessness

You compared Skiing with Golf. Are you fking kidding me?

How in the whole world can one do that? Golf is such a boring sport (is it a sport?) for lonely pensioners.

You talk speed, agility, fun, adventure and so on when you talk Skiing.
12:36 February 10, 2012 by Rick Methven

What this pr*ck and others here may not know is that skiing is actually a popular Aussie sport. The Snowy Mountains in NSW have some great Skiing
14:07 February 10, 2012 by felineface
This is extremely amusing and very cleverly written!

I guess you need to be somewhat more relaxed and intelligent to appreciate this type of story.

And for all of those with the stick up your bum that sucks the joy out of your life, take it out! I promise that life will become much brighter.
16:36 February 10, 2012 by heph
I , with a few beginner friends, tried out skiing first time this year. Yes we fell a lot, injured our behinds and more, were over taken by little kids, even clipped a few (by accident ofcourse;)) but after 3 days of skiing when we finally managed to skii 2.7 km "green" slope with considerable control and bit less of falling. Our outlook about winter changed completely. It was not snowing where we live. After our return, I heard my wife saying, who injured herself badly and did not skii the last day, that she cant wait for show so she could skii again!

Dont blame the sport, be game!
19:43 February 10, 2012 by Aussie Sven
In sportlovet, I'm expected to take 60-odd kids skiing with only 2 other staff and I'm expected to ski. I am a 37 year old Australian who has never skied before. This article doesn't fill me with hope.
05:39 February 11, 2012 by MGD123
Hey Aussie skier - seems you've stumbled on some deep cultural sensitivities here! Suggest more care required in future before attempting satirical reviews of Swedish sacred cows (or should that be moose's??)
07:20 February 11, 2012 by skogsbo
sounds like aussie was a poor skier and decided to belittle the sport. It isn't just enjoyed by Swedes, you need to add in, Aussie, Kiwis, yanks, brits, french, swiss, italian, german, austrian... should I go on.

Aussie you are in the minority here, writing an article like this you are lower yourself to the level of the usual US moaning contributors.

The solution is simple, do go sking again.
23:23 February 11, 2012 by Dijondel
Talking about how much it costs, the artcle should have mentioned Australian ski-lift prices. Well over $100AUD per day plus the amount it costs to stay in or anywhere near the snow fields. This is because the season is measured in weeks, not months.

And yes, despite our relatively modest population, it is quite popular, especially weekends and school holidays. Queues can be substantial, but that is more a reflection on the infrastructure than anythign else.


I too was a late starter, not ever wearing skis before I was 46 years old - 8 years ago. I enjoyed it the moment I took it up, but still have a healthy respect for the kinetic potential of it. Momentum is a double-edged sword.


Do you have to let everyone know how badly educated you are by using "your" instead of "you're" ?
00:38 February 13, 2012 by nar klockan klamtar
A good article that expresses well the thoughts of people late in starting a particular sport. Reminded me of when I tried riding a horse. The secret of all sport is to begin very young!!!
03:45 February 13, 2012 by The Last Boy Scout
Oliver Gee, Are you sure you're Australian??? If you are, I'm very disappointed. Sounds like you've lost the Aussie spirit.... Time to come home for re-programming...
08:57 February 13, 2012 by Aussiepride

Wow! Turns out YOU'RE part of that pathetic 1% too. Australian's are proud of our sporting abilities. We are also proud of our "Never give up attitude". We never cry and complain. We are relaxed and very laid back. Crying about the fact that a sport just isn't for you, (too the rest of the world) is not the Australian way! Stand up be proud and just say, "Hey I shouldn't ski!" Just don't complain and say that it's a stupid and rediculous Swedish tradition. We are in Sweden, respect their way of life. We are one of the youngest country's in the world, guess what that means? If you guessed we could learn something from these great people, especially as far as traditions are concerned!

Stand up and be proud. Be Australian!
15:13 February 13, 2012 by Åskar
I think being able to comprehend a tongue-in-cheek article can be a good thing too.
21:01 February 13, 2012 by notpresto
Are you sure your not a "whinging Pom" mate.
22:49 February 14, 2012 by stevo1
nice article Oliver.

Also good to see that we (Aussies) don't lose our sense of humor overtime in another land.

Mind you, I am just in awe of swedes when they ski, the skill and balance they have is extra-ordinary.

I surfed when i was younger, and besides almost drowning on a number of occasions, at least it was a soft landing (beside hitting reef), not like snow and ice which is like hitting concrete.

Yes, I did damage last time I skied on the beginner slopes, but I'm 6'3 and my center of balance is not there, still you don't seem to feel the injuries at after-ski. Actually i find a strange resemblance to trying to walk the 'black ice' footpaths in Stockholm and skiing. My skills walking the paths have improved so here's hoping I don't break my neck on the next ski trip.

Cheers Ears :D
23:29 February 14, 2012 by AG84
Ah, would seem (some) just don't get it...

I on the other hand thoroughly enjoyed the read and was highly entertained. And (not wishing for any reaction, yet I am sure it will come) wholeheartedly AGREE with your sentiments.

It's called 'having a friendly dig' fellas.

(At the risk of stereotyping the great country down under) "Good on ya" for a top read!
00:07 February 15, 2012 by strixy
Some people here seriously need to remove the broom stick from their rear ends... . Why so serious?

It was funny and well written.
07:52 February 15, 2012 by flintis
How in hells name have Aussies the cheek to call the Brits "winging poms", this Oliver must be a right ponce, obviously not of the calibre to play Rugby. Wuss!!!
10:00 February 15, 2012 by Twiceshy
Heavy clothes? Not at all, you can get by with pretty much the same clothing you wear to walk around the city (t-shirt, sweater, jacket). Of course waterproof trousers are recommended, but they aren't heavy. The only thing that can be called heavy are the ski boots.

Go play Golf or something, leave the more exciting stuff for others...
12:07 February 15, 2012 by klubbnika
Looks like some people are clearly overreacting here. Relax, it is just an article about a personal experience. Don't read to much into it.
12:33 February 17, 2012 by Grass
Seriously, given the tens of thousands of Aussie who flood the NSW, Victorian and New Zealand ski field every year and the high percentage of Aussies that work in USA and Canadian ski fields - Lets get serious about this.

And personal experience has shown me that skiing Australian fields is a damn site more enjoyable as it is no where near as cold as the Swedish ski fields.

Try skiing full tilt down a hill at -20 and see how fun it is.....
20:27 February 17, 2012 by bow290
bloody hell!

thats all i wanted to say really
13:53 February 18, 2012 by stevo1
@flintis, we Aussies give the name 'whinging poms' to all English persons that come to Australia and try to tell us how wonderful England is compared to Australia, but actually these persons have fled the UK for the beautiful weather, beaches, people, wages, social security and lifestyle of Australia - and even though it apparently is better in the UK, they don't seem to have any desire to return.. It seems such persons have the same attitude in other countries they immigrate to as well.

And you really shouldn't bring up Rugby, considering the UK's past performances at the international level. Maybe you should raise cricket instead, oops, maybe not
02:32 February 19, 2012 by Smiling Canuk
Is this writer really an Aussie? He should have known there is better downhill skiing in Oz than there is in Sweden. The Aussie skiing is not as good as we have in B.C. but its still quite decent.
18:56 February 20, 2012 by tgolan
an an Aussie's shouldn't talk about skiing, just try surfing for the first time!!!
13:06 February 22, 2012 by glasmaol
Haha, very good! Were you using a surfboard? I would personally recommend skis :)
09:37 February 23, 2012 by Aussie89
Oh my god.. What a bloody whining Australian. Glad you went back home, you make me embarrassed! I went skiing cross country and downhill, it's awesome. You just don't have much of an adventure side. No doubt your from the city, so just stay in the city and don't worry about travelling to this AMAZING country again.
20:41 February 25, 2012 by skogsbo
Had a great day skiing at kvitfjell today, hafjell yesterday. Not a winge-Ing Aussie is sight or sound, just polite noggies.
09:31 February 27, 2012 by tgolan
skiing is easy compared to surfing, suck it up Aussies
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