Sarah Loughlin ventures to Austria to discover the delights of après in Obergurgl
Its 4am, my transfer coach leaves in 45 minutes. I stand in the kitchen of my sisters hotel, scoffing cold left over noodles. Desperately trying to sober up before I prepare to sneak back into the hotel room and pretend I have been there for hours. ‘You stink’ mumbles my dad half asleep, I continue to enter the room about as subtly as one can after several jagerbombs, ‘and you haven’t packed. We leave in half an hour’.
This came about after months of crackly drunken calls from my sister on the way home from another amazing night out in Obergurgl, she was there working in a hotel for the winter season. ‘I just had 4 pints and then went night skiing and danced on tables, they were on fire!’ she screams down the phone at me. This was something I had to see.
Having always skied in France as a child, I was largely unfamiliar with Austrian resorts, let alone the crazy après parties they are famous for. Now with litre of beer in one hand and a shot of tequila in the other we are merrily swaying around in our ski boots waiting for the ski show to start. Every Tuesday evening in Obergurgl there is a Ski Show and fire works followed by night skiing. I had been to this sort of thing before but nothing could prepare me for the amazing event I was about to witness; what appears to be a small child races down the mountain on their skis over what look like snowy steps and then jumps through a ring of fire. ‘We have to try that!’ I merrily exclaim.
The next day, with the mountain air slowly clearing my hungover fuzzy brain, we meet up with Johan our ski instructor, ‘so you want to try the steps, huh?’ As he says this I am massively regretting saying yes to that final stein of beer.
‘The trick is to relax your legs’ Johan explains as he takes on the steps with ease, gracefully stopping at the bottom. It’s another beautifully clear day at the top of the mountain, and the sun glistens off the snow. I can hear the wiring of the gondola as it unloads excited mountain goers. Deep breath, and down I go. I point my skis at the steps, inside my head Frankie goes to Hollywood is singing encouragingly ‘Relax, don’t do it, when you want to go to it…’. Suddenly my legs have a life of their own, I have made it half way down, my skis are gliding rhythmically over the snowy mounds. I open my mouth to celebrate my successful descent a minute too early, and slide the remainder of the way on my back, collecting snow down the neck of my jacket. As I lay there on the cold refreshing powder, I can’t help thinking that I should have stuck to the après.
To see more of the trip check out my Obergurgl video: