Fast forward a bunch of years. We now live in an area where having a season ski pass is the norm. Where the 4th graders at the elementary school go skiing as a field trip. Where the jr. high arranges discount ski days regularly. Julianne and Brandon both have learned to ski and have gone repeat times with friends. But now...well, being an older, responsible adult, I have learned the value of precaution and skiing just didn't appeal to me. Oh fine...who am I kidding. My fear now stemmed from worries that my older, less flexible body would be a lot more likely to come home with broken bones acquired on the slopes! Still, when my friends Gary and Hannah offered up a free ski pass along with encouragement and promises of personal lessons, the idea appealed to me. For a lot of reasons, but mostly so I didn't have to admit to living in Utah almost my entire life without learning how to ski anymore.
Heather and me having just rented our gear.
The proposed day arrived. Bryan, though invited, declined on the basis of work projects so the happy group consisted of Gary, Hannah, Jason and Heather (other good friends) and me...the one and lowly newbie. I had butterflies in my stomach but I was excited. I mean, really, how hard could it be? Brandon, my 9 year old, was giving me skiing tips that morning. Surely if he and Julianne could pick it up in one day and come home raving, then I could do it too, right?
We stopped at the ski rental at the bottom of the hill to outfit both Heather and me. Along with skis, boots and poles...a helmet. Not required for skiing but strongly recommended...especially for a beginner like me. Bryan was surprised when he saw pictures later. "Hard helmets?" he asked. "Yep. 99.9% of the people on the hill were wearing them." How things have changed since he was last on the slopes. And how grateful I was for that hard helmet later. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Jason and Gary immediately took off for higher elevations seeking black diamond runs. The three of us girls headed straight for the bunny hill where Heather and Hannah planned to show me the ropes and get me feeling confident. Wow. Snow is slippery!! And yes, I know that is the whole point. But, still! I got pointers on snowplow/pizza slice vs. parallel skis. ("And whatever you do...don't let your tips cross!") I got pointers on how to turn, how to stop, how to get up once you've fallen. That last lesson came as I fell getting off the ski lift. Yep. Just getting off the darn lift! And although I'm told that everyone falls getting off the lift at least once, I felt pretty silly. But then, even more silly when I realized that I couldn't get back up! Advice and tips galore, I still could not figure it out. Heather even got down on the ground to show me....and it looked do-able enough. But nope. Still didn't happen. In the 6 over all times I crashed/fell, I had to have someone help me up every single time!! Sheesh. But once again, I'm rushing my story.
My plan was to become "Queen of the Bunny Hill"....with magnanimous thoughts of sending the others off to enjoy tougher stuff while I happily, safely and (eventually) confidently spent my time swooshing down with the beginners. But that was not to be. After Hannah and Heather deemed me sufficiently ready, they put me on the lift and then sent me down a slightly steeper hill. Still a "green" run...but that's where I got my first crash. Got going too fast and lost control. It didn't hurt. Wasn't even really humiliating. But it crushed my confidence. I was relieved when they said it was time to meet the guys for lunch. We got on the first lift. And then a second...which was much longer than the first. My nerves were building as I realized however high we went, that's how far I was going to have to ski back down again. I'm afraid I gave rather nasty looks to Hannah and Heather when they then put me on a THIRD lift. Lunch was at a restaurant at the freaking summit of the mountain!! Gary smiled and congratulated me when we walked in. I think I told him that I didn't like him very much anymore. He laughed. My appetite failed me and I only ate half of my very expensive hotdog and fries.
All too soon we were back outside strapping on our skis again. Gary sent Hannah and Heather ahead while he and Jason took their turn babysitting me. Calling out encouragement and tips, Jason skied ahead of me, Gary behind me...kind of clearing my path from other skiers, picking me up when I fell. (Which I did...3 times). We made it 1/3 of the way down the mountain to the ski lift...(you know, that THIRD one that we went up?) and to my dismay, they decided we needed to climb on and go back to the summit AGAIN! What?? Gary spent the entire lift time reassuring me, encouraging me, telling me how great I was doing, how well I made turns for a beginner....that this time I'd do great, that he'd be behind me the whole way down and to just let go and enjoy. (I was thankful for the encouragement, and wanted to tell him to just shut up, equally in turns...) :)
So once again I found myself staring down that big hill. I took a deep breath, found some inner courage and went. S-L-O-W-L-Y. I felt like I should have one of those Slow/Caution triangle signs on my back....I was a model of perfect snowplow/pizza slice form! Back and forth...huge turns back and forth down the mountain. And pretty soon something clicked inside of me. All of the sudden it all started feeling natural and right. The swooshing sound of my skis cutting through the snow sounded so cool. The sun was shining, I wasn't cold, the snow was perfect...and I was having FUN! I was doing it! S-L-O-W-L-Y but surely I made it down that mountain. The whole way down. And I didn't fall once! I was exhilarated when we reached the bottom. Our time spent, we made our way back to the rental shop to return the gear. I cheerfully babbled about my experiences to the rental guy, who knew that it was my first time and seemed good naturedly happy that I'd made it through unscathed. (How much do those boots weigh, anway? I felt like I was walking on air when I took them off!)
Tiredness, sore muscles, and bruised shins (from leaning into the overly tight boots for so many hours) all set in later that evening. But it was a happy sort of tired and sore. Okay, I know that people go skiing every day....that it's not that big of a deal. But for me...my exit out of the "never been skiing" club was a momentous occasion. I feel like I should have a swag t-shirt or a sticker for the back of my car or something! :) I'm guessing that I will go skiing again some day. Hopefully what I learned my first time will stick with me. Maybe I'll even be able to figure out how to get up when I fall! But all in all, this first experience skiing was a great one. And I credit that to Gary, Hannah, Jason and Heather who took the time to patiently teach me, who didn't take offense at my frustration and who didn't laugh TOO hard at me when I biffed it....