Dom Joly: Catching a tube offers a route across the piste's grand divide

Weird World of Sport: Skiers, in the Nancy Mitford parlance, are U and snowboarders aremost definitely non-U
Click to follow
The Independent Online

I am trying to decide whether I should take my kids skiing this year before the Alps melt permanently. In a couple of years, global warming will have ensured that all the ski resorts are turned into Sound Of Music camps where fans of the eternal musical can gambol and frolic in the warm Edelweiss to their hearts' content. My girl is eight and my boy is four and they should really experience a ski holiday before it's gone. The thing is – to ski or to snowboard?

My wife and I have always been skiers – somehow it is the right thing to do. Snowboarding is just a little ... common. It is an easy distinction to make on the slopes – skiers, in the Nancy Mitford parlance, are U and snowboarders are most definitely non-U. I would never knowingly invite a snowboarder into my chalet for a fondue party, they simply wouldn't know what to do and would end up smoking huge reefers and then eating all the cheese in a pique of munchies.

And yet ... the pain of ski boots is like the worst kind of torture. I am sure that some evil bastard in Guantanamo Bay makes the remaining bunch of innocents parade around for hours on end in ski boots. After a while they are pleading to be water-boarded, anything to get their aching feet off the dusty ground. I cannot believe that we can put a man on the moon, keep Jordan's breasts pert and allow Piers Morgan to remain alive and yet seem unable to design comfortable ski boots.

Snowboarders, on the other hand have the softest of soft footwear. Some say that the interior is moulded from the foreskins of penguins – reputedly the very fluffiest of all known materials. Snowboarders also favour the "baggy" look, with big comfy trousers and jackets replacing the dreaded salopettes or the eternally naff all- in-one day-glo ski/shellsuit.

If I am honest, were I to be starting afresh on the slopes today then I would probably be a snowboarder. It just looks much more comfy, stylish and fun. The problem is that I have reached a certain level of adequacy in my skiing that allows me to descend any mountain with a modicum of style until I reach my fifth gluvine.

I am simply not prepared to waste an entire ski holiday learning to snowboard. It will mean endless hours on my backside and having to be in classes with non-U youth who will try to sell me drugs and lure me away from the bosom of my skiing family to attend some keg party complete with hot tub and gnarly babes.

Not for me, no sir... I like a crisp glass of kirsch in the Elk Lounge after a hard day's skiing. I like to sit by a roaring fire with other like-minded salopette wearers and look out of the window, complaining about the young people enjoying themselves in the real world outside. That is why my children will be skiers. I will not have them enjoying themselves while I suffer.

In my travels I have found one alternative. It's called tubing and I stumbled across it on a family trip to the extraordinarily beautiful Quebec City in Canada. About an hour's drive from the centre is an old ski resort that has been turned into a tubing centre. On arrival everyone picks up big, black inflated inner tubes and drags them by a strap to the multitude of lifts where you simply sit on the inner tube and get dragged uphill to the top of the slopes. Then you just hurl yourself down the pistes while sitting on your tube. No skill is required and the whole family can do it.

All of us just held on to each other's tubes and we went flying down the mountain at huge speeds like some big inflatable flotilla. I have never seen tubing in Europe and, for the life of me, I can't understand why. It is totally family-friendly and dispenses completely with the whole snowboard/ski debate.

I should sell up and move to Zermatt to make my fortune in the world of tubing. I am actually of Swiss origins – Joly is a Swiss name, my ancestors hail from a small village above Lausanne. The thing is, most people move to Switzerland to die. Either you're Phil Collins and you buy a big house on the lake and wait for death or you cut out the middle man and go there for some legal euthanasia.

It's no use, I'm too stuck in my ways. It's skiing and Kirsch in the Elk Lounge for me. See you on the piste.

Save me from humiliation and I promise to buy you a ploughman's

I have been offered up for auction in the Indy. The highest bidder will accompany me to the annual cheese-rolling competition that is held in May near my house in the Cotswolds.

I've always wanted to take part in it, so this slightly nutty event will give me the incentive. I do, however, hate being put up for auction – it's a humiliating experience where the "winner" invariably bids five whole pounds for the pleasure of my company, while Tracey Emin is purchased for a cool £25,000.

In an attempt to up my worth I can confirm that I will be mildly pleasant to the winner and am prepared to fork out for a ploughman's lunch at a nearby hostelry if I don't break my leg in the event. Oh, and if you're a pillock then I'll deal with this mercilessly in my next column ... do I hear a tenner anybody?

Excuse me while I kiss this SkyCaddie

I have a fabulous new gadget to help me to cheat at golf – it's a range-finder called a SkyCaddie and if you have a relative who plays the game, this is definitely their dream Christmas present.