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Talking Points

Are Punters More Hardcore Than Locals?

Who's more dedicated?

Time and time again we’ve made the mistake of looking out the window at night and seeing legions of tourists staggering through town, alternately chucking snowballs at or being sick on each other. “Wait ’til tomorrow morning” we’ll say, “we’ll be the only ones there for first lifts at this rate.”

I’ve learned now, but the shock of seeing the same shit jester hats and gaper gaps from the night before ahead of you in the lift queue took a while to wear off. How can these people spend a whole day falling over on ice and knocking themselves in the head with their own skis, then go and get hammertron until 5 am and still be ready to do it all over again, for the next five days?

“How can these people spend a whole day falling over on ice and knocking themselves in the head with their own skis, then go and get hammertron until 5 am and still be ready to do it all over again?”

In fact, I’m only here this cold and damp morning because I’ve got some mates from The City staying for a few days. Suffice to say, you can sling me in with the aforementioned category: fug-headed with the taste of the local grain alcohol concoction, and definitely not as stoked to be alive at this hour as they are.

Maybe the reality of working in London/Paris/Munich/Dystopia really is so bleak that a constant cocktail of bruised arse and alcohol poisoning whilst wearing an animal onesie and jeans in -10C weather really is preferable to even thinking about going back to the office on Monday? Or maybe it’s only the nutters that make it out to resort in the first place.

Well no, that can’t be right, because there’s also a family of five in front of me. I looked after a child for 45 minutes last year – it screamed for exactly 44 of them and only stopped when it heard its mum’s car pull back into the drive. How you can stand being around three of them plus their-mother-that-hates-you-for-inflicting-this-on-the-family-every-year for even a quiet evening in the chalet, let alone dragging them all out of bed and into boots for a spot of good ol’ queuing at 8.30 is beyond me.

“Some can’t and leave the families behind, preferring instead to congregate with their own kind – the Dad Lads”

Some can’t and leave the families behind, preferring instead to congregate with their own kind – the Dad Lads – but you can see how they manage it. Years of day in, day out servitude to family and workplace has turned snowboarding into as much of a duty on these trips as chatting up the chalet maid in front of the boy. They go through the motions, but they’re dead behind the eyes and working from a script – might as well be getting ready for a Saturday morning road bike session. ‘It’s fun, honest.’ I get why they’re here.

Just like i get why the ‘real’ snowboarders are here as well: grasping a Jones board with their [ak] emblazoned sleeve and nervously mumbling about the avalanche report and ‘secret stashes’, though it hasn’t snowed in weeks. Maybe they did a season once, maybe they just fell in love at the dryslope – either way they’ve probably schlepped away all year for this with nothing but a desktop picture of Mark Landek to keep them going. Of course they’re in the lift line before it opens.

In fact, the guy next to me must be old enough to qualify for his free pass, and are those wooden skis he’s carrying?! From a time B.S. (before snowboarding) and free from marketing BS, who was I to think that just by living in a resort and having a stab at the native slang I was a ‘local’. Oh wow… That’s my pension age landlady rocking up with twin tips just as the lift gears grind into action, putting most of her tenants to shame.

“If you’re out on holiday or were born here – be there in time for the first chair and you’re one of us: a lifer”

Reality bites: we’ve all got as much right to be here as the next guy, that is we’re all meant to be here. No matter if you sent it at the bar the night before dressed in a smurf costume or took an early one ‘cos snowforecast.com predicted four centimetres, if you’re out on holiday or were born here – be there in time for the first chair and you’re one of us: a lifer.

Still, I might just try and sneak past the dad lads quick…

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