Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Lighter Side of Learning to Ski

The theme of this past year of my life has been to live life, not sit on the sidelines. CrossFit has opened so many avenues of activity for our family...Being fit is a total game-changer. I went camping last summer for the first time ever, and went tubing in a chilly river for about 4 hours. It was loads of fun. I went kayaking with my kids for the first time ever last summer. Also, loads of fun. This winter, conditions have been perfect to learn how to ski, and this is the most fun I have ever had in my whole life. Exaggerating? No. I'm serious when I say this. I have literally gone head-over-heels crazy about skiing. Literally. Head over heels.

I'm not entirely sure why strapping two flat boards to the most uncomfortable shoes I've ever worn and careening down a mountain is so much fun, but for some reason, it is. I've heard people say that they hate skiing...the cold, the snow, the speed...Okay, but most people I've talked to really like it, and so I banked on those reports.

I sincerely wish I had a video report of my first day skiing. I would love to have watched myself as I managed walking with those feet or got off of the lift for the first time. A friend of mine told me "keep your thumbs in when you hold your poles" because her roommate in college broke both of her thumbs when she fell and her poles bent her thumbs backward. I opted not to use poles, so as to avoid the broken thumb scenario. So we went through the lesson and I fell a couple of times..I did not understand what he meant when he told me how to stand up. Off with the skis. Second try. That little bunny hill was steep, and long, and scary. Then the instructor took us to the top of the bunny hill and I had to get off the lift. I got off the seat and whoa! there was a steep ramp and I flew down straight off of the lift. I landed in a pile at the bottom and would you believe it, sprained my thumb! I landed on my right hand and my thumb bent backward under me. It's still getting better. I managed to make it down the bunny slope a few times alive, and by the end of the lesson was able to stay mostly on my feet.

After the lesson I ventured up to the green-dot slope next to the lesson area. It was fiercely steep and miles long. I got off the lift and didn't fall immediately. I started down the hill, careened wildly down the slope and fell spectacularly. I lay there face down in the snow to gather my wits and heard my daughter call from behind me, "Mom? Are you okay? MOooOm!? Are you okay?" I got up looking like the abominable snowman, I'm sure. I asked the eight-year old daughter (who was zipping along everywhere she went like an old pro after one lesson) "HOW ARE YOU DOING THIS?" She showed me the little snow-plow maneuver when she picked up speed. It didn't work for me. I wiped out again, this time under the ski-lift just at the moment when my friend and her daughter were floating overhead, laughing behind their gloves.

Even so, I got back on the lift and went again. I still had a grin pasted to my face, despite the fact that I spent half the time in the snow as opposed to on it. The lift operator asked if I was having a good day and I burst out at him, "YES! I'M HAVING A BLAST" and he kind of recoiled and raised his eyebrows and said, "Oh, well, good!" He probably turned to his colleague as soon as I was out of earshot and said, "Freaky lady."

After that first venture to the slopes, we went again, exactly two weeks later. I stayed on my feet a little better. I learned how to turn on my skis a bit more. I learned what an "edge" was, how to feel the weight on your downhill ski, how to get your skis parallel, and and how not to take your class group out like bowling pins by skiing right into the middle of them. Yes, that happened, and yes, I was the one skiing. I learned how to fall and "spin out." It's less fun than skiing but less painful than falling without any choice in the matter. I learned that sometimes the ski lifts go fast and you'd better be ready or you'll watch your little girl get swept away without you. I learned that they always stop the lifts for cute little girls who can't reach the ramp and get off in time. I learned that hand warmers are really necessary if you plan to ski all day in 20-degree weather.

We have found the most amazing burger place, to top all of this off. Elevation Burger in Frederick, MD is about 20 minutes' drive from the mountain, and I have to say there may be nothing better than a burger, fries and milkshake after a long day of exhausting exercise. My son ate a triple-patty burger with just everything on it. This is us, windburned, tired, but really happy about our food.

So far this is my skiing journal. We go again this week on Thursday, and I can't wait, though I realize I am taking my life in my hands through the entire experience, but isn't that really living? Here's to staying on my feet!

Let me just offer this piece of advice...don't wait until you are in your mid-forties to learn to ski. Do it yesterday. I'm sure you'll be better off!


  1. I have really been enjoying your blog. Blessings to you and your family!

    From one homeschooler to another,

  2. I am in my 40's and haven't ever tried to ski yet! You are inspiring me to give it a try! Thanks for the post and your sweet blog! Blessings, Colleen

  3. Good! Do it next season...but try CrossFit first. It gets you in shape so you don't injure yourself doing all the fun stuff!


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