It was pouring snow for 5 days throughout the country.
First time in 5 years that something like this happens. It is not comparable to the dumping that happens in Canada on a daily basis, but for our standard it was more than enough.
That meant that nature would provide Mavrovo with one of the best ski weekends of the season.
I kept checking the forecast, every day from Monday to Friday. The forecast said that during Saturday the weather should be clear and sunny. So I booked the bus tickets and awaited Saturday.
Mavrovo is a national park and one of the most beautiful places to visit in the country. Many hiking trails and peaks, a lake for fishing, a sunken church, gorgeous wooden weekend getaway cabins, and of course the ski center.
Although it is not very modern (some would argue that I am being gentle with my words) and it could use a better management, it is 2 hours away and has snow – everything that a true skier needs.
I am a self taught skier. I haven’t taken any professional lessons. Sometimes the lack of proper lessons is evident, but I get up, learn and continue on.
When I ski I tend to ski alone because I hate waiting for people. The waiting destroys my “being in the zone”.
when you get a chance to go skiing with someone that is actually better than you, and at the same time a professional snowboarder that visited most resorts in both hemispheres – you should definitely grab that opportunity by the balls (not literally).
Because his comfort zone is gazilion levels from yours and if you want to keep up, you will have to be prepared to do some crazy stuff and get out of your own.
you need to upgrade your skills constantly. What this means in my case, is that since I was skiing alone most of the times, I got used to my comfort zone and went out of it very rarely.
Getting out of my comfort zone means skiing everywhere except the ski run, including the following:
- Backcountry skiing
- Skiing through the treelines
- 180s, backflips and everything else.
And joining forces with him, was the best comfort zone breaker I had so far.
The bus trip lasted for 2 hours.
We left Skopje covered in fog. Macedonia is a country riddled with valleys, so during the winter time, it is a common sight to see the valleys covered in fog and smog. Example:
Skopje is somewhere underneath that blanket of smog. I took these photos when doing a morning hiking trip, on the mountain Vodno (Skopje is situated in the valley below Vodno)
We broke through the smog when we reached Mavrovo. This is what I saw:
And this (btw that girl in the reflection, drop dead gorgeous)
You can thank instagram and its filters for the following picture that looks like it has been taken at night (the flash looks as if it is not the sun rather a supernova in the sky
It was a great start of the day. Sun, fresh air, and a ton of powder.
My friend was not carrying his equipment (he left it in New Zealand) so he had to rent it from one of the three rental shops. This is one reason why this centre needs better management.
Hey mister, tell me which is the best snowboard you have at your disposal?
All of them are – the owner spoke in the manner of a true Macedonian, confident in what he was selling – Take a look at this one.
So my friend glanced at the board and turned to me with a confused face.
This board is from the 1980’s. And the bindings are actually glued to the board.
I did warn him that Mavrovo is not a centre to be messed with nor underestimated but I guess I should have been more descriptive.
So he took one of the boards, and when he asked the rental dude to help him BIND the bindings (because bindings SHOULD be bound by default), the owner just gave him a shrug and passed a screwdriver to him.
So he binded the bindings and we were off to taste the snow.
My usual skiing routine is to first try the piste and see how it goes. But I was in a presence of someone with a different opinion.
Wow dude look at that treeline! Lets hit it!
Let me give you a more clear perspective on where we skied and boarded. The following is the ski center and the two most advance runs where I spend my skiing 100% of the time.
The following is where we went:
Everytime he proposed something, a part of me was like:
I am going to die today.
And another part of me was:
Shut up and pretend it’s something you would normally do!
This is me and him in the background before we hit the treeline:
The feeling I got every time I did what he proposed?
Skiing in between those trees felt like dodging bullets
I thought to myself:
Mavrovo is freaking awesome. This is where i’ll be skiing from now on!
By saying that I jinxed it and now it was time for a reality check.
We dropped on the main run and headed for the chairlift. One thing happened when I stepped on the piste: I slowed down as there were other people skiing.
Being on the piste felt like going back to a routine I have done a thousand times so I was doing it so effortlessly.
Until someone crossed my path.
Lucky for the kid, I stopped right in front of him but still crashed and we just fell to the ground and slided a couple of meters. First thing that came to mind was to check the kid. I was just 2 meters below him and asked if he was OK – ne nodded and cried. Said sorry afterwards and let him know everything would be OK.
He was crying because he was 7 years old – not because he had any injury whatsoever.
I was just about to ask him who is he here with when I feel this sharp object hitting my helmet.
You fucking idiot! I am going to report you to the police and you are getting arrested! You will never ski here again!
I turned around and this older dude (the kids father) keeps on hitting me hard. I don’t feel a thing because of my helmet.
Why are you yelling man? Why aren’t you with your son over there to see if he is OK?
It was strange. This man did not even once glance at his kid to see if he was OK. Rather he felt necessary to yell, hit me with his poles and skis and rant out some ridiculous stuff that you are not supposed to say in front of a kid. But I ain’t a parent so maybe it’s the way to go.
In the meantime, my friend came and confronted the old man and tried to reason with him. I wanted to see if the kid was OK and turned around. The kid was up, not crying, and was swearing even more than his old man.
I will kill you, you idiots, don’t mess with my dad you motherfuckers!
My reaction to this:
Dafuq is going on? I disregarded the kid and turned around to see the my friend and the old man. Oh boy.
The old dude gave a head bang to my friend and both of them started wrestling on the snow. Another guy came and separated them – I was trying to get up – because during this whole incident I was on the ground.
Then the old dude showed his true face:
Do you know who I am?!!!!!!!
Alexander? My friend asked.
No maybe Tony? Or Stephan? – my friend continued.
I am the manager of this ski center and both of you will be arrested. I will be waiting for you down at the bottom with the police! You are done!!!
And he still did not even ONCE glance at his son.
That was the moment I lost it.
So let me get this straight. You are the manager of this ski center and as such, you take your son, who is just starting to learn to ski, on the MOST DIFFICULT PISTE in this center where novice skiers are strictly warned NOT TO SKI.
Furthermore, you are teaching your son – where is your licence to teach?
Third, you talk about proper skier conduct and how we did not adhere to the ski center rules. The first thing and the ONLY thing you did, from the beginning of this incident, was to argue, threaten, fight and hit US where the first thing WE did was to check if your son was OK.
YOUR SON. YOU FUCKING IDIOT. You did not even once glance to see if your SON WAS OK! What is wrong with you?
Lets not forget that you are the MANAGER of this center. The manager who should know best the rules of conduct on the ski runs. The manager that should know that when an incident happens, the first thing you should do is CHECK TO SEE IF THE PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE INCIDENT ARE OK OR NOT. And then IF everything is OK, see the cause of the incident.
So by all means. CALL THE MOTHERFUCKING POLICE! IN FACT, I will do it for you,. I will call the FUCKING POLICE and let them know EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED YOU FUCKING IDIOT. One more thing…
YOU STILL HAVEN’T CHECKED YOUR SON, YOU IDIOT!
There was a long pause and you could see that the old man took a step back after being bombarded with all this factual ammo. But…
You foreigners think you can come here and act like this?! In this country you will behave by our rules!
Wow. Clearly he had some anger issues that stemmed from something totally unrelated and this incident was the perfect way for him to channel his anger.
And I understand him. To be the manager of such a great ski center that excels in customer service and quality of service offered is not easy.
Mister, we are truly sorry for what happened, Incidents like this happen all the time. We understand that even though you are the manager and you have to be objective in these kinds of situations, you could not because it was your son who was involved. Regarding my friend, he was careful as much as possible He is a great skier and thanks to his fast response time, we avoided something serious today, despite all the other facts of the story. If you really want us to settle this with police, let’s do it. Here is our number just in case if we do not find each other down there.
My friend tried to REASON. But this guy just would not stop.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING WITH ME!!!!! – he could not understand that we were actually very serious about our apology and approach to settle this thing WITH REASON.
We realized there is no point in continuing this conversation. We asked the kid once more if he would “forgive us and if everything was cool” and the kid nodded. We bumped poles as a sign of good will.
Yeah we are cool. But i will kill you for fucking with my father!!!
Like father like son I guess.
And that’s when the old dude, FOR THE FIRST TIME, looked at his son. WOW.
They continued down the piste and me and my friend looked at each other.
We should stick to off piste for the rest of the day. I am afraid someone might carry a gun and shoot us. – my friend said.
BTW, he is a foreigner. He heard great things about our country and opened a business here. What he encountered was two frauds (that made him lose a substantial amount of money) and a ton of idiots and self proclaimed SHERIFFS like this old dude that think they own the place just because they have a shitty managerial position (in which they obviously perform poorly). All of this in just under 3 months.
I can’t lie, it is fun hanging out with him.
OK enough of my anger rant.
Now for the ULTIMATE COMFORT ZONE BREAKER.
We took a one seater chairlift and got up to the highest point. This one:
We dropped through the south side due to the beautiful powder, and stopped in the middle just to catch up to one another. Then he saw a huge snow capped ridge line.
Dude! We must jump from there after we get up there again! It is the perfect place to do some jumps!
Yea we must die also – I thought to myself. The ridge line looked like this:
So we went up there and slowly I was preparing to die.
We need to gain speed if this jump is to be successful – He said
…. – me.
What are you planning on doing? A 360? – Him.
He could see that I was scared shitless.
Let’s do this at the same time ok? – He tried to comfort me.
That is when I felt my ego awake. Who you calling a pussy? I thought.
Let’s do this! – I yelled and dropped down.
Gaining speed and plowing through the powder felt OK and I was confident. Then the abyss came into view and my confidence dropped to -10000000000%
You know that feeling you have when you jump and your body expects to land but… you are not landing because you are still floating in mid air? Remember how your gut just feels as if it is going down in your heels?
Mine was saying: Fuck you bb i want to live!!!
It’s the same feeling you have when you jump for the first time of a cliff, or a plane or just drop down a rollercoaster.
It feels AWFUL just before you jump.
It does not feel when you are in mid air.
And when you land?
I felt almighty.
I landed in a pile of soft, caring, loving powder that said: See? Nothing to it bb!
I was more alive than ever and wanted to do it again. Man what a feeling.
Just to give you an exact representation of how steep the jump was, I used my design skills to create this art:
We did it several times after that. Each time felt the same. Each time I was scared shitless. Each time after I landed I felt almighty.
AND IT WAS FUCKING AMAZING. AND I WOULD DO IT AGAIN NEXT WEEKEND.
It’s funny though.
The moment you jump, you leave your COMFORT zone completely and land in the MOST COMFORTABLE powder in the world.
That made me think, maybe the old dude felt that he needed to get out of his comfort zone and for the first time in his life show his son that he is not a pussy when it comes to dealing with “bullies” that bully his son?
Whatever it is he should take care of his son more. Like the powder took care for me after I landed in it.
Here is the only video of our jumps. We got so comfortable at the end that we just wanted to try and do some tricks. BTW it looks as if the cliff is not steep. That is because my camera handling/shooting skills are well below noob level and I tilted the camera too much (notice the mountain ridge in the back). You should be watching this video by tilting your laptop/phone b 45 degrees to the left.