After six months in Canada I like to think that I have managed to keep my English accent, although I am gradually getting into the Canadian habit of putting ‘eh?’ onto the end of every sentence – when used by Canadians, this makes them sound amiable and agreeable, but as a friend of mine aptly pointed out, with my accent it simply suggests I am permanently on the verge of sneezing. And after many misunderstandings – such as wearing a posh dress and heels to a ‘country club’ instead of cheque flannel shirt and cowboy boots like everyone else – I have accepted different meanings of words and adapted my colloquialisms. However, even having adopted the ‘Canadianisms,’ the ski slopes in Whistler once again speak an entirely different language, the general rule of which seems to be to simply drop the final syllable of every word (or rather the final sylla’). So powder (in place of fresh snow) becomes pow’, ‘gnarly’ becomes ‘gnar’’ and ‘radical’ becomes ‘rad’ and so on – and of course everyone becomes ‘bro’. Yet the only expression that really seems to apply to me is ‘bro you ate it’ which, as I face plant into the ground once again, suddenly makes perfect sense.
Yet despite these endless falls whilst walking from the mountain and towards the bar for ‘après’ drinks it quickly becomes apparent that (as I found with ice skates) ski boots have the ability to make the most modest of people walk with a pronounced swagger. Consequently even as I brushed the remaining snow out of my hair from my most recent fall I was forced to strut along in a very arrogant way as if stating ‘You think this is bad? You should see the mountain’. Further to this newly adopted lingo and saunter, my ski jacket (salvaged a few months before in a charity shop) amplified this misguided image of a confident skier as I had inadvertently picked up one of last season’s Whistler ski instructor’s jackets. Being a novice skier, my complete lack of skill on the slopes guaranteed that no one would mistake me for a ski instructor as I alternated between snow-ploughing and bouncing and rolling my way down the mountain. However, as we entered the bar no one was aware that I was unintentionally ‘all gear no idea’. Consequently, I revelled in the irony as a couple of guys at the bar asked me if I was really a ski instructor, so instead of correcting them I decided that for the five minutes whilst waiting for a drink it would be an amusing part to play up to. Dutifully I adopted my newly found language skills and started talking about the amount of ‘pow’ we’d had that day and nodding along as they compared how many days they had skied this season (whilst I kept very quiet about my grand total of five days).
Perhaps as a result of this illusion and spurred on by all the ski talk, the next day the other novices and I decided it was about time we gave a black run (advanced) a try. After narrowly avoiding a few crashes and at other times ending up draped like Christmas decorations in the tops of trees, we emerged relieved and triumphant at the other side. Yet just as I was beginning to relax and breathe again as we meandered our way down the smaller slope and towards the ski lift, I spotted the guys from the bar the night before, both of whom to my horror were wearing this season’s pea-green Whistler ski instructor jackets. Whilst desperately trying to hide my face behind my goggles and scarf I lost concentration and hit an icy patch of snow causing me to accelerate and leaving me hurtling towards the chair lifts. Unable to slow down I flew past the queue and crashed into the two ski instructors and their friend, who were now next in line for the chair lift. Trying frantically to stop myself, I blindly shoved my hands out in front of me. As a result I pushed the middle of the three guys to the floor and was left at a standstill in his place. Just then the chair lift arrived behind us scooping me onto it in the middle of the two instructors in place of their friend – who was left sprawled in the snow, a little baffled and struggling to stand up. So caught between the two guys for the length of the ensuing chair lift I decided there was nothing for it but to keep up the act ‘thank god for all the pow’ to break that fall, he really ate it eh?’