Rebekah and I have recently started to learn to ski at the Chill Factore in Manchester - it's a great place. Motivated by a half price beginners day lesson, we did our first day on real snow, albeit - inside the chill factor.
First day over, and after getting used to the weird footwear and the funny bits of wood they strap to your feet, we were both full of confidence to proceed to the 'Improver' level, which as it happens was on the main slope.
Learning to use the button lift and using the bottom third of the slope, we were quite happy learning parallel turns and various ways of stopping.
After the morning tea break (included in the price) we were to go straight to the top of the main slope. I could feel my stomach churning a little, but at the top was spurred on by some young kids who were flying down the slopes like they had been born with ski's on.
Stuart kept encouraging us to follow the turn all the way through, which I didn't fully understand until venturing down this much bigger slope.
The premise is that if you don't follow a turn completely through you go into the next turn much faster, making it more difficult (I am qualified to say that !).
Learning the hardway is never easy.
Moments before the big tumble, I had flashbacks of Eddie the eagle edwards in the Winter Olympics of 1988. I vividly remember his arms waving, his ski's going in various directions, but he always seemed to land straight - and there's the difference between Eddie and I.
By the time I got two thirds of the way down, I'm sure I heard my ski's break the sound barrier and over I went, arms out to break my fall, which didn't work and my fall broke my thumb. It didn't look too bad at first, and after I managed to get back up, I looked at it and decided to keep going.
Through the afternoon I treated the main slope with the respect of a someone trying to ride a lion wearing flipflops. But the thumb was throbbing and it was a trip to A&E that decided it - fractured (not badly) and no ligament damage.
So that was the improver day over with. Wouldn't say we're up for a black diamond run yet, but are thinking about doing the improver day again.
I did see one poor skier who hurtled down the second have of the main slope through the crash barrier and firmly tested the rescue capability of the netting that stopped you creating a new door way into the food court. So I think I got off lightly.
The moral of the story is I guess, when someone plays down an activity they are doing it for a reason. In Stuart's case it was to encourage confidence. For me when ever I hear 'it's only 5 degrees more' I'll know what to expect next time.