My adventures in skiing began about four years ago. I started, so my husband Michael and I could potentially have an activity we enjoy together. I had always wanted to try skiing and I LOVE the snow. So, in my early 30’s I tested out skiing.
As with most things, skiing is a progression. There is a learning curve and a rather steep one for adults who have had the time to develop fun things like perfection, insecurities and fear. Unlike children, who are afraid of nothing. Well, they are afraid of the monster under the bed, but strapping skis to their feet, with no poles and whizzing down the side of a mountain doesn’t seem to be a problem. Backwards? Sure! But watch out kiddies, the Abominable Snowman might appear in your dreams later.
Anyway, I got all the stuff: special ski socks, boots, pants, jacket, base layer, mid-layer, goggles, hat, gloves, and later a helmet. I used my Michael’s old skis and poles. I started out with a few lessons. I think Michael was wise enough to know if there were to be a future in our relationship, the smart thing would be to have someone else teach me to ski, not him. At the end of each of the lessons, I was indifferent to skiing. Not super jazzed about it, nor discouraged enough to stop doing it. I was disappointed that I was not as good as I thought I should be with all my dance experience, besides people said I’d be a natural. However, putting smooth planks on your feet, standing on a slick incline and leaning forward takes some getting used to. Learning to ski, as an adult requires ones instincts to be rewired. Why would I want to lean down a snowy hill with these things on my feet, that I cannot control (yet)? When my mind and body shout at me to lean away from the scary slope. Rule One: bend your knees and lean forward . . . even if you don’t want to! Or, you won’t go anywhere, or you won’t go far or at any bit of speed.
Now, speed is the other highly important component. You need it, or a certain amount of it for the skis to do their job, cut through the snow and allow you to turn and stop.
One thing I find funny about skiing is all the “crap” you need to have with you. Not only your gear, the equipment, lip balm, tissues (cause your nose WILL run), possible hand or feet warmers (if you get really cold), your lift ticket, money, room key and or car keys or locker key, and anything else you want with you. And no, you don’t ski with a purse. Oh, and it’s cold outside, really cold and maybe snowing. You realize that you had better like what you are doing, because it really takes a great deal of time, effort and planning. And that’s BEFORE you start skiing.
For three years now, Michael and I have been going to a weeklong ski clinic in Aspen. You are sorted by ability or comfort zone and ski with a ski pro and other skiers of the same skill level. Michael is lucky as he has friends who attend this event and they all ski together. I however, ski mostly with strangers. There is one saving grace and that is Kim. He is a ski pro that was assigned to the beginning level my first year. Kim could read what I needed and we started to develop a great working relationship. I requested Kim again for my second year and again this year.
My group last year and this year were very small and so I have had the great fortune to darn near have an Aspen ski pro all to myself and a few private days as well. To give you an example of how well Kim and I work together: one evening I was telling Michael at dinner how I had no desire to EVER ski a black diamond, bumps or trees (Kim was not present). The very next day Kim and I were on our digestif run (run you take after lunch) he lead me to a clearing and stopped. I stopped along side him and looked up to see a run sign not far off. I didn’t read the name of the run, but I did see quite clearly the symbol of a black diamond next to it. With my eyebrows raised up into my hairline, I asked him if we were indeed going to do this. He said, “Don’t think about it.” I nodded, let out a firm exhale and off we went. About a fourth of the way down (it was a bloody long run) he stopped to check on me and asked how I was doing. I said, “I don’t know, I’m not thinking about it.” I though to myself it’d be really cool if I not only got down it, but if I didn’t fall either. I was successful. At the end of the run he congratulated me and complemented my skiing. I was so elated that I looked up from the base of the run and gave the middle finger and a strong expletive to my first conquered black diamond. Kim laughed.