The Travellers

The ski braggers

Issue 3 · Winter 2015/16
By Fiona Neill · Illustration Damien FlorÉbert cuypers
Issue 3 · Winter 2015/16
By Fiona Neill · Illustration Damien FlorÉbert cuypers

As their best friends like to point out, Clive and Rebecca came to skiing late in life. But two weeks in a luxury chalet every Christmas and hours of clandestine private instruction have more than compensated for the deprivation of their early years.

Clive now talks about double-diamond black runs and snow density as though he was born into it.

“Utah!” he says, by way of greeting.

“The greatest snow on earth,” quips his colleague and friend Will, who likes to refer to himself as a native skier because he learnt as a child. “I skied Pipeline before you’d even done your first snow plough.”

“Nowhere better for the flotation of the running ski,” says Clive. “The snow has really good body.”

“And we need somewhere challenging for the children,” chips in Rebecca, serving up a Vacherin fondue brought back from a weekend in Zermatt to catch the first powder of the season. “They could ski before they could walk. Just like Franz Klammer.”

“That reminds me of childhood holidays in Austria,” says Will. But before he can recount how he overheated in Geneva airport in 1977 because his parents made him travel in his salopettes, Rebecca mentions that they have just been on a ski clinic with Franz Klammer in Bad Kleinkirchheim.

“The actual Franz Klammer?” asks Will, stunned.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” squeals Will’s wife Nicola. “We could have joined you.”

“It was for advanced skiers only,” says Rebecca seriously. “Mostly off-piste. Not for anyone who likes to take two hours over lunch.”

No one notices Will bristling because Clive has brought out his new Oakley Airwave goggles, complete with GPS positioning and jump analytics.

“You don’t need those if you’re a native skier,” says Will. “I prefer to rely on my instincts.”

Fiona Neill's new novel The Good Girl is published by Penguin at £7.99

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