Ski jumping, it transpires, is ruddy scary.
I say that like I had a go. I didn't. I'm basing this entirely on standing next to a ski jump.
I’d sat, warm in my office, giggling at the idea of Channel 4’s new reality TV show The Jump, which consists of celebrities flying down a ski jump (among other winter sporting challenges).
I had visions of celebs face down in a huge pile of snow. All very Bridget Jones meets Splash! with everyone yelling "Snowplough!"
But, upon visiting said ski jump in Austria, I have officially (yes, officially) changed my mind.
Among the celebrities taking part in this terrifying show are 80s pop star and X Factor regular Sinitta, former TOWIE star Amy Childs, Olympian Sir Steve Redgrave and comedian Marcus Brigstocke.
They could have said no, or signed up for a show that involves them sitting in a warm house or something of the sort. Hairdresser Nicky Clarke read the small print to make sure he knows what happens if he's injured and Amy is taking part even though she's never put her feet near a pair of skis... But, there they were, salopettes on, knees knocking, learning how to ski jump with Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards.
I was ‘lucky enough’ to be taken to the top of the highest jump. Something I wouldn’t repeat in a hurry. I felt like I’d wandered onto some freezing cold version of Gladiators as travelators chugged us up the side of what I’ll call a mountain. It wasn’t. It was 40 meters high and the snow wasn’t even real.
But with intermittent handrails and an interpreter attempting to yell back the instructions of our guide, it makes me feel better to think I was basically climbing Mount Everest while adopting a sort of half crouch, half surf pose to try and stay upright.
Did I want to sit on the jump and look down? asked the guide enthusiastically. I wondered which part of my holding tightly onto a metal pole had suggested this was likely. No. A quick snap with the ski jump in the background seemed more than enough to earn me some après-ski. After all, I had the ski jacket, the matching gloves, the great big woolly hat. It seemed close enough to ‘ski bunny’.
A friend later confirmed I looked like a dorky tourist.
Anyway, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson was busy showing us what she could do. In fact, she was already jumping off the smallest ski slope and this was just day two. In a surprise twist, Tara has since left the show saying it "wasn't for her".
She seemed really rather good at it from where I was sitting (which was as far from the top of the jump as possible). But the star admitted she "wasn't very comfortable with being the favourite", adding that she felt like she was "under a lot of pressure".
Her loss is TV presenter Laura Hamilton's gain, who leaps from reserve to fully competing athlete.
Most of the other celebrities, who'd chosen to huddle in the lodge, seemed pretty darn pleased that all of their limbs were still in place. Sam Jones – aka Flash Gordon – was nursing a shoulder injury that has since forced him out of the competition. Presenter Anthea Turner had some nice bruises. But, all in all, a happy camp. No one ended up stuck halfway through the fence at the end of the jump after all.
In fact, while I chatted to the contestants there was a good twenty minutes of them saying how great Tara was, how well they were all getting along, how everyone was getting stuck in...
Until former cricketer Darren Gough and Anthea came along. “We’ve all fallen over quite a lot,” Darren admitted.
It’ll get "tactical" as well, he added ominously. The celebrities actually only face the ski jump if they end up in the bottom two. This is decided by judges after the celebs have had a go at one of the various disciplines, including speed skating and skeleton (which is basically hurtling really fast down a hill on what is essentially a tea tray).
Darren admitted he would be sticking to the small jump in the hope that, if he’s pitted against someone better, they’ll risk a high jump and fluff it up.
There's the team spirit we were all hoping for.
It wasn't long before Sir Steve clomped over in his ski boots and basically told us it was high time we got out of the way and let them get on with it.
I hotfooted it back onto the plane before someone mentioned having a go.
The Jump runs for nine nights from 26 January on Channel 4 and will be hosted by Davina McCall and Alex Brooker
Picture via innsbruck.info