Diary of A Novice Racer - Part 1

By: Caroline Brown

Oh that fateful day when Chill Factore failed to build us any bumps for the SCoM Bumps Course last September! Instead we were supplied with a free 3-hour lift pass, a free instructor (Mitch) and a handful of slalom poles in lieu of bumps to keep us amused for the afternoon. I had done a run or three of GS (giant slalom) before out in resort but had never tried slalom so had great fun playing among the poles. A short while later Mitch took me to one side and asked how long I'd been slalom skiing. 'Half an hour', I replied - much to his surprise. He explained that Chill Factore organised fun races from time to time and, as I fall into the Masters category (anyone over 30) I might well win something as I seemed to have an aptitude for it!

Suggesting I participate in anything remotely competitive is akin to waving a red rag at a bull, especially as I had nurtured a longing to try slalom skiing for a number of years and had been eyeing up ads for the Chill Factore's Race Club (Tuesday evenings 6- 8pm, Sunday mornings 7-9am). A couple of Tuesdays later I duly turned up and paid up and spent my first Race Club session in the beginners group, the only person in that group over the age of 10! Undaunted I went back the following week and got upgraded to the teenagers group so didn't feel quite so conspicuous.

After a few weeks the head coach suggested my progress was being hampered by my skis as, with a turn radius of 16m, I physically couldn't get my turns tight enough for some of the drills and was struggling to ski through the slalom course. Decision time then - did I want to progress badly enough to buy some slalom skis? I had been saving up to buy some powder skis but decided I'd get more use out of skis I could use at Chill Factore year-round. So, for less than the price of the coveted powder skis I picked up some 11m radius slalom skis, a race helmet with chinguard, race poles with hand guards and some shin guards. Bargain! But.... would it make any difference?

To be continued