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It was Friday, the first day of our skiing holiday, and my friend Jason and I __________ down the mountain together. We wanted to catch the ski lift back down to our hotel.

I answered had been skiing, and it was were skiing.

I don't understand this because if they wanted to go back to their hotel that means they had finished skiing for the first day.

Is it because there is no duration that past progressive is preferred or because had been skiing means that their skiing holiday are finished and they will be back home soon.

http://campus.belgrano.ort.edu.ar/ingles/html/426540/narrative-tenses

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  • Probably because the next action is mentioned. The matter was not over in distant past. – Maulik V Dec 5 '15 at 7:01
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Technically, if you considered only that sentence, either choice would be possible (It was Friday, the first day of our skiing holiday, and my friend Jason and I had been/were skiing down the mountain together.) It's just that in the text, were skiing is more logical (or arguably, just easier to imagine).

In your exercise, the two were still skiing; they hadn't arrived at the ski lift yet in the first sentence:

It was Friday, the first day of our skiing holiday, and my friend Jason and I were skiing down the mountain together. We wanted to catch the ski lift back down to our hotel. It was getting dark and we began to feel rather tired, so we were looking forward to getting back to the resort. Imagine our susprise when we arrived at the ski lift to find that ...

Note the part when we arrived at the ski lift.

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Past perfect continuous often shows the cause of something in the past.

So in order to use it, the first lines should look like this:

— It was Friday, the first day of our skiing holiday, and my friend Jason and I were tired because we had been skiing down the mountain together. —

The answer is were skiing since it describes a scene in the past. (Also seen as a longer action interrupted by a shorter one.)

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