TRAVEL / SKI SPECIAL: Chill Factor: Measure yourself against the hippest on the piste and take the insiders' test

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The Independent Culture
BRITAIN may have made its peace with Maastricht, but in their hearts and minds few European skiers can accept us as fully integrated members of the Alpine 'scene'. Are the French, Italians and Swiss really so much more imbued with 'cool'? They certainly seem to think so.

If you think all you needfor a skiing trip to the Alps is a goatskin filled with rotgut red and an old pair of lederhosen, chances are you won't make the scene. If you're a beginner on your first trip to the Alps, be careful not to confuse 'cool' with class. It may come as something of a shock to discover that a so-called jet-set resort like Verbier doesn't always bother with details like toilet seats in its public conveniences.

Test you Euro-cool quotient by answering the following multiple choice questions. The scoring system is explained at the end.

1 It's a freezing, windy day in Val d'Isere. You turn up at the cable car wearing:

A Bula kamikaze headband, electric boot heaters.

B Goretex anorak, Thinsulate gloves and a silly hat.

C Reversed baseball cap; ladies nylons inside your foam-injected Raichle racing boots.

2 It's a deep blue, sunny day in Zermatt. Skiing down the groomed piste you're looking at:

A The Matterhorn.

B The local talent.

C Yourself.

3 The powder is deep and a little heavy in St Anton. To avoid losing your skis you:

A Crank up your bindings to DIN 14.

B Buy some powder cords.

C Install the Ortovox electronic 'mouse' homing device.

4 You are caught in a 'black hole' lift line in Verbier. You:

A Nonchalantly ease up on the outer edge of the mob, 'accidentally' knock-

ing over the six-year-old who gets in

your way.

B Stomp heavily across the skis of the people in front of you, shoving them in the ribs and speaking loudly in your best approximation of German.

C Smile politely as you wave the brawling trio behind you on ahead.

5 Time for lunch in Kitzbuhel. You and your friends:

A Take your reserved seats in the upstairs dining section of the mountain restaurant and park for the next 2-3 hours.

B Queue up at the self-service cafeteria and carry your trays out on to the sunny terrace.

C 'Graze' the abandoned trays on the terrace, scoffing the leftovers.

6 You pile into a telecabine in Meribel, noting the prominent 'No Smoking' signs. You:

A Pull out a pack of Marlboros and

light up.

B Roll one of your own and bum a light from the ski instructor puffing on

a Gauloise.

C Don't smoke anyway.

7 It hasn't snowed for weeks in Wengen and the slopes are packed with weekenders. You:

A Snowboard the bumps at full speed on the most crowded intermediate slope.

B Hire a helicopter for the day.

C Telemark into the back country.

8 After a hard day in the powder above Davos, you are in the bar swapping ski stories. From your own experience, you insist that the steepest and deepest skiing in the world is:

A In Zermatt.

B In Mike Wiegele's heliskiing ranch in Blue River, BC.

C In Whi stler.

9 You're skied out from a week of belting round the Portes du Soleil ski circus spreading over the Swiss and French frontiers. For a change of pace you:

A Watch extreme skiing videos.

B Enter the local parapente school.

C Find a foursome for bridge.

10 Challenged in the Choika bar in Chamonix to define your skiing philosophy, you opt for:

A Ski sensibly.

B Ski to lunch.

C Ski to die.

SCORING

1 A 2 points 1 B 1 point 1 C 3 points

2 A 1 point 2 B 2 points 2 C 3 points

3 A 3 points 3 B 1 point 3 C 2 points

4 A 2 points 4 B 3 points 4 C 1 point

5 A 2 points 5 B 1 point 5 C 3 points

6 A 2 points 6 B 3 points 6 C 1 point

7 A 3 points 7 B 2 points 7 C 1 point

8 A 1 point 8 B 3 points 8 C 2 points

9 A 3 points 9 B 2 points 9 C 1 point

10 A 1 point 10 B 2 points 10 C 3 points

Now add up your score.

10-12 You are acompetent, safe and sensible skier who likes adventure and is well travelled but will never pass for the hard core.

13-25 You are as cool as it's possible to be, over 30 and could easily pass for the more conservative Euro with more money than ski cred.

26-30 You're so cool you're likely to get arrested at most resorts in the Alps. With a mental or real age of 11, you are the skier we see in all the ads but dread meeting on a chairlift.

(Photograph omitted)

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