Joe and the Big White Crew sit the Level 1 Ski Instructor Exam
CSIA Level One. 4th and goal at the one-yard line. Six to win off the last ball of the game. A cup-final penalty with the scores tied deep into second half stoppage-time. Collect the nervous energy my son, and use it wisely. Here, on this day and on this field, we do battle against ourselves. Here is where we write our history.
Day one, and after a quick introduction indoors we head for the snow to start the first of two days where our ski technique will be assessed. Despite feeling fairly well-prepared I'm soon on the back-foot, as new holes in my technique are pointed out and corrected. By lunchtime I'm struggling as I try to remember each adjustment, and trying to consciously remember to do them all simultaneously is draining me mentally. The afternoon is no better, and concern starts to increase.
Day two is the same. Further problems, further corrections, and an end-of-day one-to-one evaluation that makes it very clear I'm equally close to both success and failure. No choice now, it's either 110% focus or nothing at all. I swear I used to be able to ski?
Time to wheel out the tricks I used for so many years in Lake Tahoe skiing powder and steeps: energy drinks. Copious amounts of them. Forget the health warnings and bosh super-juice like there's no tomorrow. Sleep first though, with an early alarm to leave time for ramping up.
Morning 3: Large mocha for breakfast and then it's time for the energy pop. One can smashed back, then a second. Let's go. Focus on everything, every turn, every movement. Where are my hands? What part of my body is leading the turning effort? Where is my weight in the different turn phases? I compute all, I assess all, I KNOW all. For I am wired, and I can do anything (with more coffee and crullers). Hey, I might even pull this off.
Lunchtime, two more cans, I'm on the ceiling, let's go again already. Confidence slowly ebbing back into me alongside the adrenaline and caffeine. Teaching practice goes well, and I draw a not-too-difficult assignment for the assessed teach the following morning; introducing wedge turns to the nine to twelve year-old age-group. Win, home, write a lesson plan that extends to two sides of A4. Spend the evening learning it backwards until sleep fights the sugar crash.
Day 4, apocalpse now. Another litre of super-sweetened caffeine-filled goodness, then off to Happy Valley nursery slopes for the teaching assessment. Everyone's focused, not only on their own 'teach' but on making sure they play the part of 'student' just as well for everybody else. If we fall, we will fall together, but no-one will catch us so we'll catch ourselves. Another can of energy drink and then it's my turn... am I too wired? Nah, bring it on. Fifteen minutes flies by in an instant and two laps of the magic carpet, and it's all over with half a side of A4 worth of plan remaining. Damn, that was the best bit too.
Lunch, more super-juice, then back up the gondola to the village centre and final judgement on ski technique. It all comes down to this, and I reckon there's there's time for two runs... three if we're quick. We aren't. Good.
Focus harder than I've ever focused before, natural and synthetic adrenaline coursing through my body as I compute and calculate every turn. It's feeling good, my skis are flowing. One last run of hard-out attack to leave it all on the hill, then time to retreat home for showers and group nervousness. Our examiners Nooner and Eon retire to the pub to determine our fate.
The due time and location arrives, as does a very smartly dressed group of EA-ers, but the results don't. A delegation advises that a further hour of deliberation is required. Most hit the booze to kill the time, but a hardy few brave the cold and head down the gondola for cheap pizza / just something to do. Finally the sealed envelopes of win and fail cross the plaza from the 'marking area' (the pub) to the meeting room, and we all file in behind them.
Tension. Introductions and collective 'well dones' sail by barely noticed. It's all about names. Where's mine? Have I done enough?
Cue understated but time-honoured celebratory fist-pump, and bottle that feeling cos if you sell it you'll make a fortune. It might even make enough to cover what you spent on energy drinks...