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Written by: Pete
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First Tracks

Whether it’s the first tracks of the new season or the first tracks you ever made there is always that eager anticipation as you take a deep breath of cold mountain air and head off down the first run.


For me some of the best ski memories I have are of those first moments.  I grew up in England, a place full of avid skiers and boarders who have no snow covered mountains to exact their energy on.  The cure for this is the dry slope!  For those un-initiated the dry slope is like a giant toilet brush stapled to some form of artificial mountain. 



Swadlincote ski center


In my case it was Swadlincote ski center in Derbyshire, England.  Swad, as we knew it was a mountain of coal slag from the old mining days which had been turned into a ski hill!!!  Said hill is served by a button, or poma lift.  Injuries are regular and various which may be why there was a decent bar on site J


Even though the dry slope adventure is a massively poor substitute for real snow I was hooked on run #1 and a couple of months later was ready for something a little more aggressive.   OK, so Val D’Isére in the French Alps, home of Europe’s most grueling world cup downhill may be a bit more than aggressive, but that was where the romance with snow began.


My younger brother and I got to the slope 30 minutes ahead of our ski lesson so we decided to have a couple of runs as a warm up.  The Solaise mountain in Val is one of two mountains there and considerably larger than the slag heap I had been skiing on.  Seemed a lot steeper too (was still only a bunny slope).  It wasn’t until the chair lift deposited me atop the run and I attempted turn #1 did I realize giant toilet brush has way more friction on skis than snow!  Didn’t make another turn until I reached the bottom of the run, wiped out in a huge face plant, lost both skis, been dreaming about the next run ever since.



Small lift to right – subject of wipe out