I skied for the first time1 this past Friday. Woo, me!
I know ... growing up in the Snow Belt, having access to a free place to stay in the Poconos for the past 20 years ... why haven't I skied before?
Lord knows I've wanted to. In middle school, all the cool kids hung out at Mount Pleasant2 schussing and swooshing and snow-bunnying themselves all over each other. I didn't know how to ski and missed out on so much social life, apparently. You wouldn't think it would matter, but it did. Middle school is insane like that.
And then later when I was with Joe and we'd bustle off to the Poconos whenever we wanted to3 I still didn't ski. Partly I feared looking like a complete loser in front of my boyfriend/fiancé/new husband, partly we just plain couldn't afford it. Lift passes, rentals, etc. sure add up fast.
Well, this weekend we went for it. We spent all day Friday skiing all over Jack Frost Resort up in the Poconos. I had my stubby child-like skis4 on, my ski poles at the ready. In my red Land's End squall jacket and grossly-oversized black bib snowpants I did not in any way resemble a snow bunny. But, I was out there. I made my pizza slice and "carried my food tray" and slowly got the hang of it.
First Run — was going OK, keeping my balance beautifully and even managing to steer a tiny bit when I saw Emily wipe out. The Mother Bear in me took over and I attempted to maneuver to her rescue. When this clearly wasn't working, I took a deliberate dive in order to stop somewhat near her and give her a hand. It was ugly. (my fall, that is. She was re-skied and back down the hill in no time.) I took awhile getting back up and got down the hill in short order, snowplowing valiantly coming to a complete stop about 20 yards from the lift line, so great was my fear of having too much velocity at the end. I then awkwardly waddled my way over to the line. My best friend's 9-year old daughter rode with me on the lift to show me how to do it.
Second Run — Started out really trying to concentrate on the wedge and turning with the whole upper body. Wanted to do nice wide zig-zags all the way down the hill. Fell. Three times. Once quite badly, involving skis flying off and hand throbbing and head bonking. Almost cried because the three-year olds were just whizzing down the hill and I was struggling just to get it together. And Joe had assured me, having done both, that I'd have no problem with this, as going down even small hills on cross-country skis was "way harder." (Emily was basically ignoring all instruction whatsoever and just whizzed down the hill, her 44-lb frame light enough that just plain friction slowed her neatly to a stop right before the lift line. Matthew was struggling just to stay upright for more than 30 seconds at a time. Joe was having Zero Fun dealing with Matthew. Dana and Julia whizzed down the hill and even went down the longer Blue Square level, while calling out to me helpful hints like, "Pizza! Pizza!" and "Tray! Tray!".)
After That — Eventually caught on to something right. I zigged and zagged slooo-o-owly down each hill, managing to steer around fallen skiers and even timed the slowing and stopping at the bottom of the hill closer and closer each time. Started to feel the weight on the lower leg and even to turn my skis together without maintaining the pizza slice down every run. Keep in mind this was all on the Green Circle hills. The ones with names like Snowflake and Powder Puff and Frosty. By the afternoon, we put Matthew into a group lesson so Joe could actually ski a bit. Emily continued to whisk straight down the hills paying no heed to any technique.
Finally — my last two runs of the day were down the Blue Square level hill, Ridge Run. There were a couple of nice collect-your-breath spots partway down the hill, which I took full advantage of before proceeding down the steeper portions of the run.5 I was so proud of myself and despite teasing her about it, really appreciated Dana's rooting me on the whole way down both times. Her atta-girls really helped.
And I didn't even wake up completely sore and exhausted the next day. Slightly stiff through my back, some tender knuckles and a ski-shaped bruise on one thigh from the afore-mentioned Bad Fall. Nothing major.
I'm looking forward to going again. I'd like to go without the kids so I could just concentrate on my body and what it's doing and not having to look around the monitor their potential broken bones. (by the way, I don't have any pictures of any of us in skis, as I left the camera in the house...whoops!)
1 Downhill, that is. I've cross-countried plenty of times. Used to own my own skis, in fact.
2 Later known as Mountain View. Closed in 1992.
3 Clearly this was Before Kids and certainly Before Dog
4 The Rental Ski Choosing Guy literally said, "People will laugh at you, but you'll have an easier time controlling these."
5 To be fair, I did fall down once on the second run, but it was deliberate and gentle. I had too much speed for my liking coming into the almost-level section and foreseeing a massive catastrophe on the upcoming curve, I elected to make a controlled fall (which wasn't a wipe-out, honest!) instead.