Joe's Big White Blog - Part 2 Welcome to Paradise...

Calendar December 17th, 2010

Part 2 - Welcome to Paradise, Megan Fox? - 27th November to 2nd December 2010

Awaking to sunshine on the first morning in a ski resort is one of the greatest smile enducing thrills a human being can encounter in this life. So is waking up next to Megan Fox, but surprisingly neither of these scenarios played out for me today. Instead, Big White-out lived up to its name, with a thick English-style pea-souper of a 'low-lying cloud' happily hyphenating itself both into existence and also into this excessively-hyphenated sentence.

Last night was spent settling into the Big White House 2010, and getting to know its cast of likeable and vaguely tolerable reprobate inmates. Sadly there's no telephone voting to get rid of any of us, and I can't see EA springing a surprise and inserting Megan Fox to join us and boost the ratings any time soon, but as far as season accommodation (and indeed a cast and crew for 5 months of snow-fuelled excess) goes, it's rather good. No hot tub though... bah humbug.

With security and cleaning deposits satisfactorily paid last night to our affable landlord Paul, the agenda for today would consist of our first encounters with prospective employers. So with freshly cleaned teeth, a smoothly shaven face, a vest on my chest and a bullet in my lung, I took my first apprehensive stroll towards the 'Village Centre' and it's underwhelming clock tower to rendezvous with 'EA Rep Extraordiaire' Annie for a day of paperwork fun in the SnowSchool's Kids Centre. It might be okay, Megan Fox might turn up with some pens (to replace the crappy Big White ones that work for about 3 words on average).

In reality, the day of paperwork quickly became more defined by long periods of sitting around waiting for things to happen - most of which subsequently didn't. As can often be the case in ski resorts when they open earlier than expected, everyone was running everywhere in a mad Megan Fox-induced panic with bits of paper falling from their flailing arms and cries of exasperation escaping their furrowed faces. A large group of EA noobs was low on the overall priority list, and understandably so. Still, things were slowly accomplished and by day's end most of the group had acquired season passes and signed off contracts of employment just in case CSIA Level One wasn't a mythical holy grail. One day my son, one day you too can don your Spyder jacket and fancy red snowpants for real and teach an eagerly attentive child all about pizza and french fries... If you're lucky and you work real hard. New skis were purchased and shown off, similarly new equipment and clothing, and a few of us hardier souls even braved the massed weekend ranks of punters for a few cheeky runs in our new surroundings. Champagne powder? Maybe just Asti Spumante, but it's early doors and it'll get you merry.

Talking of fantasies, there are some machines in the base lodge at Big White. On them they have the letters A, T and M imprinted, and there's a little slot that looks like it'll fit a bank card. There's a rumour that they dispense money, and someone once said that they saw their mate's brother's cousin's dog take out a whole CA$20 from one of them, but they mustn't like English / Australians / Megan Fox / Irish / Kiwis etc... cos to the best of my knowledge none of us have ever made them do it. I reckon it's a myth myself... probably wise to turn up with enough readies in your pocket to keep you going for a bit. Debit cards are dicey too, best keep credit cards handy cos they seem to be all that works here.

Continuing the theme of introductions, Sunday started early and heralded a coach trip on the 'shopping shuttle' that's run by the resort to allow people to buy groceries / replacement TVs / new housemates / meet Megan Fox for a gut-destroying burger at Arbys in Kelowna. It arrives in town at 10am, perfectly timed for when all the shops open at 11am, but on the plus side it's only CA£10 return and when the on-mountain grocery store wants CA$12 for a frozen pizza(!)... I wonder if they do frequent traveller points? The town is very strip-mally, but I plan to reserve full judgement on it until a later date. Trying to explore a place for the first time with one blocked ear and some cold dregs of jetlag isn't exactly conducive to true journalistic impartiality after all.

Monday morning brought the start of our introductory training. Under strict orders from Annie everyone in the group arrived well ahead of time to meet our instructors, and before long Andrew and Adam from Australia were leading us off for our first ski lesson. It had been a while since any of us had been properly taught how to ski, myself more than most at an estimated 12 years (albeit with a lot of assorted hints and tips along the way) since my last skischule slalom-chain, so credit is due to both of them for the way that they eased us back into learning and assessing what we were doing right or wrong. Although the overall atmosphere was one of enjoyment and getting to know the mountain by skiing around a bit, gradually more and more technical elements were taught and played out. Video analysis sessions proved very useful to try and gain an outside perspective of what is a very intrinsic sport, as over the next three days our bodies and minds deteriorated from freshness towards exhaustion. Skiing first lift to last whilst constantly analysing and re-analysing EVERY move you make can do that to a person, but pursuing the mirages of Megan Fox on pink all-mountain twin-tips thrown up by the mind in a cunnning attempt to delude the body into further action will see you through.

November became December and still we slid down snow, preoccupied with the necessary evils of lateral and vertical stance and balance whilst trying to remember to pivot correctly and not do any of the other stuff that each of us had been doing pretty successfully and at high speed for years. By the end of that twelfth month's opening day we were more than ready for our promised days off. After an evening of drinking festivities appropriately organised and conducted by our sole Irishman Mark, we retired to our rooms and to some much-needed rest punctuated only by dreams of teaching Megan Fox the vagaries of pressure control and edging.

Those dreams continued long into the morning, and long after our new instructors had arrived to await us for the first day of our training for real. OFFICIALLY NOT OUR FAULT. Jus' sayin'....