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There's No Waiting For Friends on Powder Days

Surviving Val d’Isere With A Stitched Up Stomach


Val d'Isere - picture courtesy of freeride.co.uk

The title says it all really – three weeks of no riding, no working, no anything. The glorious Espace Killy sat gleaming with fresh powder right outside my front door like some forbidden diamond, that even if I wanted to touch, I could hardly even get out of bed to do so.


Let’s take it back to the beginning of this seasonaire episode. It was one of those brilliant weeks in February when the weather Gods decided they were going to hammer us with snow by night and let the blue bird fly by day. There were park days, off-piste days, days sat at the top of the Palafour with a backpack full of beer, hurling snowballs at bladers (who would want to ski on midget planks?) – it was a week of riding hard and living life how it’s meant to be lived.

It was also one of those weeks that 60 brilliant guests descended upon our shabby hotel behind the Spar. And no, they weren’t a great bunch of people, they were the kind that could only be laughed at, hysterically, on the kitchen floor during evening service. Anyway, when spirits are high (or low), alcohol consumption has a way of tripling and Val d’Isere’s finest establishment, The Moris Bar, saw several thousands of gallons of Kronenbourg pour relentlessly down the throats of 20 disillusioned seasonaires.

Beer after beer after hazy beer, led to beer after beer after… you get the picture. It gets to the point in every night out when the inevitable switch to spirits takes place – this is usually when your stomach bloats to the size of Mr Blobby’s and can’t handle anymore gas. Tequila was, obviously, the only way forward from that moment onward that night.

Three hours later and the throbbing pain in my stomach was no better. “Probably just too much to drink” I thought; “Probably just too much to drink” said my roomie. So after instilling the utmost confidence in my roomie’s dodgy diagnosis, we headed back to the bar. Roll on more margaritas!

I spent next morning’s breakfast service on the floor of the kitchen, again, although this time it wasn’t through laughter. I couldn’t even hold myself up. I was in absolute agony and it didn’t take long to find a painful lump in my belly-button. One trip to the doctors and €80 later I was on my way down to Bourg St Maurice with a strangulated hernia. We came to the conclusion it was from laughing too much, riding too hard and drinking more than my body weight in chalet wine, cheap beer and 2-4-1 cocktails for 7 longs days.

After four days and three books since returning from the doc’s, cabin fever soon started to set in and the hotel nursery across the hall was beginning to ever so slightly grate on my nerves (translation: I was pretty much frothing at the mouth at 8am every morning when the first baby started screaming.)

The only way I avoided madness over the next two and half weeks was thanks to Wentworth Miller and five seasons of Prison Break, Green Wing S1 and S2 again, lots of cake, pizza and endless cups of tea and a mug in the post with a picture of my parents splashed all over it (which later made its way to the guest tea-station in the bar.)

Closing in on a month in bed, I could take the infant shrieks no longer and suited up. My first day back on my board was fantastic – the snow was fresh, the slopes were empty and I had a bag full of beer chilling on my back. Sometimes, you just never learn.

Oh, and I’m still receiving (and ignoring) bills from the hospital for something my insurance obviously didn’t think was important enough to pay for.

By Lauren Williams

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