All day tearing down a mountain, all night tearing up the town. Sounds ideal. But we’re only experienced in the latter. Skiing holidays can be expensive, and the last thing you want is to be shelling out £200 to be stood around freezing while some Austrian alpha-male tells you how shit you are and how less shit he will make you.
So we thought, how hard can it be? Being products of the digital era, we reckon we learn more from games than from a bloke called Jurgen. But can you teach yourself on the slopes, saving the cash for the après-ski bar? Cue us heading for Morzine in the French Alps, to a RudeChalet armed with an XBOX Kinect and Motion Sports, ready to ruin numerous ski schools.
Weird bushes, eh?
In the Chalet
Bearing in mind our ‘experience’ is watching Ski Sunday and a stint on the arcade at Hollywood Bowl, we’re fairly upbeat. On arrival we're straight on to one of the XBOX Kinects that grace every RudeChalet for some early practice. Then it's off to sort out skis and boots.
After another spell trying to master the ski aspect of Motion Sports, we head to the number one bar in town. Sharing a few “lethal” Mutzig (a local brew that can be anything between 7 and 9.5%) the rest of the snowboarders who will join us on the slopes the next day tell us that the complex we are going to – Les Diablerets – translates as ‘The Devil’. Our hugely inflated ego has just been burst.
We hadn't been drinking at this point
We head back to the chalet for some free wine, and savour our dinner like those on the mile. Sod it, we’re not here to fail. We’re immediately back on the Kinect until the early hours, and set a new record by 4 seconds allowing us to hit the hay with a quiet confidence.
Judgement day starts before sunrise, and we’re greeted with over a foot of snow freshly dumped on the Alps. “Good for you” our RudeChalets host Helen tells us. “It’ll hurt less when you crash”. Once on our way, the road conditions are a sign we should take note of; we make it out of Morzine as the last car down the mountain before the road closes. By the time we climb back up to Les Diablerets a combination of nerves and our thermals – that make us look like Phil Taylor in a wetsuit – leaves us sweating like an Egyptian dictator.
We had been by now
On the Slopes
Seeing as we’re only accompanied by snowboarders in the gondola from 1500 to 3000 metres, we look about as cool as Boris Johnson at Download. Once at the top, we hit our first stumbling block: getting the skis on. With the left foot flukily in place, we move towards the right ski, and promptly end up imprinting ourselves on the side of the mountain. Three Chinese tourists are strangely excited, and we have to wait to try again as they ask us to pose for photos.
Skis finally on, we shuffle over to the start of a blue run. We wobble about ten feet before eating snow. But they were ten glorious feet. We pole our way to a steeper slope and set off. Relaying what we’d learnt on the game seems to work, but we just gather too much speed, bottle it and bail on to the deck.
We need to learn to turn. Back to the top of the run, we try again, and get a few turns in. In one sense it’s easier than the virtual world we learnt in, as just a shift in body weight has the desired effect. In other ways it's not, like the fact that it's minus bloody 22 and there's a real drop to our left rather than a computer generated one.
Clearly travelling at 100mph+
We conquer two other blue runs, slicing through the snow with heightened confidence, but uncertain when it comes to stopping. The deep snow scuppers any further progress, as we have to battle to get from run to run, and soon the altitude takes its toll. Feeling weak and sick, we slowly head for the chairlift.
As the last few on the mountain, it’s a race against time, with FHM’s moral support throwing all sorts of abuse at us for our slow pace (abuse that promptly stopped when we cough up blood). Fortunately the reasonably impressed RudeChalets guys have flagged up our presence, and we catch the final gondola back down.
As the altitude decreases, we start to recover, and thoughts turn to the wads we’ve saved. We were definitely making progress, even in what the expert boarders from RudeChalets described as "probably the hardest conditions" (the whiteout broke our camera). Stuff the lessons, give us another day and FHM would be staking claims for Sochi 2014.
Just add people
A huge thanks to the guys at RudeChalets for minimising the chance of our death. Check out their website. Motion Sports on XBOX Kinect is out now.