SCoM text logo

Val d'Isère — 2021
I Believe In Angels (ABBA)

Reporter: Shantha Joseph

This may seem a strange title for recollections of a club holiday to Val d’Isere but that’s exactly what I mean: I do believe in angels!

On New Year’s Eve after a very enjoyable party with champagne at midnight, more food and karaoke, when I finally went to bed, I was in a reflective mood, looking back at 2021 but soon it turned into nightmare what might have been had my ‘not so conventional’ descent down a couple of slopes in Val d’Isère ended differently!

Let me explain. I had been enjoying a wonderful morning of skiing. My fears about having lost the skills partly or completely, or being able to keep up with ‘the guys’ all proved to be unfounded. I can remember being so excited that I guess I threw caution to the wind — or maybe a bit too confident?

I am not quite sure how it happened, but before I knew it I was sliding down a fairly steep slope, having lost both my skis and poles. Fortunately,thanks to skiers around me, I eventually got back on my skis, albeit a bit shaken. From nowhere I remembered… “you have to get right back on the horse“ and I did just that.

The experts among us chose to continue on the same run but I opted for the red which later merged with the black and my fellow skiers. We stopped briefly on this very famous run, Face de Bellevarde, apparently the most infamous run in Val d’Isere!

Happily I set off once again but before I could blink, I found myself hurtling down the slope, this time on my tummy with no skis or poles, desperately trying to get a grip on the surface with my boots but to no avail! I can remember it so vividly… the beautiful turquoise blue slope. A very icy slope indeed!

All sorts of thoughts flooded in, being rather superstitious, and aware of the fact that my eastern horoscope made no mention of my life after 2021… I was expecting the worst! “You shouldn’t be skiing at your age!” I could hear my Indian friends screaming at me. ”OMG, I am on aspirin!” I remembered articles about ‘subdural hematoma in the elderly (!!!)

I tried desperately hard to hold my face away from the ground to avoid head injury! Of course songs and hymns and verses from the Bible came flooding in. I remembered a song, ‘God of the mountain is the God of the valley’ but couldn’t recall a line that talked about a ‘God of the slopes or mountainside!’ so hoping for divine intervention on the slope seemed futile!

I vaguely remembered a verse from the Bible about the ‘righteous and their many afflictions’ but that ‘none of his bones will be broken’ (somewhere in the Book of Psalms!!) but I knew I didn’t fall into the category of the ‘righteous’… elderly, yes, but righteous? Certainly not! I hoped and prayed that I wouldn’t gather any victims along the way! My descent on the pretty blue icy slope seemed never ending! At long last thanks to some kind soul(s), who skied slowly above me with my rescued skis, I finally came to a halt, and as the saying goes… ’get right back on the horse!!’

At the end of the day we went to a pub and I celebrated my adventure by buying a round of drinks for my fellow skiers! The British being ‘British’, no one talked about what had happened… It was as if nothing unusual had happened!! However, I do wonder what the private version of the spectators was or is!!

I can also remember being anxious about falling asleep that night in case I didn’t wake up the following morning… in fact I told a few of my well-wishers that if they didn’t see me at breakfast, they should raise the alarm, but it must have been out of sheer exhaustion, both physical and emotional, I did fall asleep, and thank God I didwake up the next morning to tell the tale! Elizabeth, I missed you!

Back to New Year’s Eve 2021: after these flash backs, as you can imagine, I couldn’t get to sleep but I knew I had an awful lot to be grateful for. Things could have been so vastly different… not worth thinking about!

Well, maybe now you see why I believe in angels, in fact I believe in my own guardian angel. Also maybe there is a ‘God of the icy slopes’ after all!!

I am so relieved that I was able to get ‘right back on the horse’ and keep skiing the rest of the week because it turned out to be the most memorable and enjoyable ski week… In fact one of the best weeks of skiing! We all shared a love of skiing, hot chocolate treats mid-morning and fine dining on the mountain!

Thanks to all my fellow skiers but a special heartfelt thank you to Steve, Ray, Ronan & young Simon and of course, our instructor, Terry.

PS. I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to members of ‘Admin’: David(S), Steve(W), Janet(W) and Barry(L) for organising this holiday and to Jen & Val for help with IT etc whilst at the airport, resort etc.

Members can view or download the full newsletter containing this article here.