HUMOR. DETERMINATION. SUPPORT.
Those are the three things you will need to learn how to ski.
So, I will start this off by saying I am no ski instructor. I am a very inexperienced skier who thinks it will be…fun? To share with all of you my embarrassing, anxiety-ridden story of how I learned to ski at age 26. Yes, to some of you reading this who may be a more experienced skier I am a bit of a later bloomer in the ski world. I had never gone skiing with my family as a child. We have a cabin in northern Michigan that we visit often. We went more toward the snowmobiling and sledding activities. Not until I began dating my boyfriend Brett did I have the “urge” to ski.
Where it all started
It was around Thanksgiving time I was with Brett’s family sitting around talking after dinner. They began to talk about how we should all go spring skiing in Colorado this year. Skiing is a family tradition that they have done since Brett was five years old. So this family breeds skiers. Haha. I’m sitting there nodding my head..mmhmmm..mmmhmm..then I hear, “Sam, do you know how to ski?” I reply with a laugh, “Oh no, I’ve never been skiing before.” Then they all turn to Brett and say, “Alright, you gotta teach her because she’s coming!” Instantly, a wave of fear rushes over me. The idea of sliding down a mountain at high speed with two little sticks under my feet that have my life in their hands does not exactly sound fun right now. But I put on a brave face and say, “Yea! Let’s do it!” haha.
money, money, money!
So not only do I not know how to ski but, I’m realizing that this sport/hobby is not cheap! You need skis, ski poles, ski boots, a helmet, goggles, all the fashionable ski attire, and special gloves. The list goes on. So I slowly get some gloves and a cute coat. I am feeling good enjoying the shopping aspect but I haven’t gotten to the ski part yet. I ask for a few things for Christmas and get my helmet and goggles. Luckily, Brett’s parents let me borrow an old pair of skis. They are a bit long for my height but they will do! Let me remind you that it is now January. I have never set foot or shall I say, ski on a ski hill. I don’t even have ski boots yet. So Brett and I go to a ski shop and I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot. I find a pair of ski boots from last season that is a great brand and they are 70% off! I try them on, they fit perfectly and they even mold them to your feet for free. So, I am standing in the ski warmer and I’m getting really stoked for this. I turn to Brett and ask…”sooooo when are we going to ski?”
Another few weeks go by and we are into February. Still, haven’t skied. We are getting down to the wire here! We leave for Colorado the first week in April. I’m thinking to myself..even if I ski every day from now till we leave. How on earth am I going to be ready for a Colorado mountain!?
The day has come…DUN DUN DUN!
I take a deep breath. The day has come for me to learn how to ski! Near our cabin, there is a ski resort called Caberfae. We are up north for the weekend and after 4 pm the lift tickets are much cheaper. So great, I get to learn to ski in about an hour of daylight and the rest will be dark. OK..cool. So we pack our stuff in the car and drive the 45 minutes to Caberfae. I am sitting nervously in the car all suited up and ready to go. Brett turns to me and goes, “you can put your boots on now.” Then I start to get really nervous. So I put my ski boots on and we are nearly parked. I touch down on the snow and look around. There are two big ski hills and I instantly go “nope.” Brett laughs and points over to my left and says, “ Your starting on the bunny hill.” I look over and there is a little hill. I think to myself…I can handle that.
So we walk over and we drop our skis and Brett puts his on with ease and I am like how the heck do I this? We never covered this in our talk, I never even thought about it. I was just worried about getting down the hill. I never thought about the steps to get to that hill. So Brett helps me lock my boots in. Which requires some balance and finesse. Then I feel like a baby trying to walk for the first time. I have these long things attached to my feet and I have no idea how to work them. I feel like an idiot for one. Five-year-old kids are whizzing by me and I am 26 years old and can’t move in my skis.
scared, nervous and embarrassed
So at this point, I am feeling scared, nervous, embarrassed and so confused. I start sliding slowly back and forth and use my poles to push me along. It’s almost like I am a dog wearing shoes..picking my feet up all weird and feel awkward and off balance. I start to get the hang of it when I slide (not so gracefully) over to the infamous tow rope. The tow rope is a long rope that you hold onto that uses a motor to pull you up to the top of the hill. So with some persuasion, I grab on to the rope and off I go. I look to my left and there is a 6-year-old girl. I look to my right and there’s a little boy who can’t be more than 3 or 4. Then there is me. I’m this 26-year-old woman holding onto the tow rope for dear life surrounded by children making my way up the bunny hill. If that isn’t a slap to you your ego, I don’t know what is. Quick tip, make sure your skis are facing forward or they could cross or catch an edge and you will fall. Then they have to stop the tow rope and it’s super embarrassing.
Finally, I reach the top.
This hill is looking a lot more intimidating than it did a few minutes ago. I have no choice I have to go down. There is literally no other way. I refuse to be one of those people that slides all the way down on their butt. I still have my dignity. So, without further adieu, I slowly push myself just enough to slide down the hill. I am trying to “use my edges” as Brett says. I figure I skated for eight years so apparently, that makes people think you will automatically do well. So I’m slowly carving back and forth down the hill. Or so I think I am.
Soon, I am nearing the bottom and realize I have no idea how to stop! I start freaking out. It’s not like skating where I can do a quick T-stop. I am terrified I am going to pummel the innocent child that is waiting at the bottom of the hill when I hear Brett yell, “PIZZA… PIZZA!” I don’t know how but, it clicks and I push my legs out in a triangle shape (PIZZA) and slowly stop, averting the innocent bystanders.
Brett comes down behind me and goes, “good job. Let’s go again.” I look over and am like “I have to do that again?” haha so after several more times up the tow rope and down the bunny hill I gain some confidence. A few teenagers joined me so I didn’t feel quite so….tall. My last time down the hill I actually felt pretty confident. I was using my edges and gliding without stopping ten times before making it to the bottom. I had mastered the bunny hill.
“Let’s try the big hill!”
Seconds, after I am having this little party in my head brett, goes, “OK. Let’s try the big hill.” I think my eyes popped out of my head. A wave of terror washed over me. All I could think of was once I got to the top I had to come down. There was no other way. Also, I had never ridden a ski lift. This is also very intimidating! Basically, a ski lift is a porch swing that you stand in front of and wait for it to whip around the corner and then you have to time it just right and sit down before it knocks you over. Oh, and there are about 20 or more people standing in line watching and waiting for you to mess up. Talk about pressure.
So I gingerly walk over to the ski lift. I am mentally preparing to make a complete ass out of myself when it’s our turn. So I stand in front waiting for the swing to come around while holding my ski poles and trying not to fall over. The swing whips around and Brett goes “ SIT!” and I do as I’m told. Before I know it, we are getting higher and higher off the ground. It is quite peaceful once you are up there. You are just trying not to lose a ski or drop a pole. After a couple of minutes, I relax but then it’s time to get off. GET OFF!? But I just got on and I don’t know how to get off, what do I do? Again, we did not talk about this! Are you trying to kill me? My poor boyfriend is getting verbally assaulted at this point haha.
“skis up, poles up”
As we inch closer, he just says “when we get up there skis up, poles up then put your skis down and push off. But you have to go fast or it will hit your ass and you will fall. Then they have to stop the ski lift and that’s bad protocol.” Nothing like a vote of confidence to send you on your way am I right? So we get to the drop-off and he yells go and pushes off of my leg! Yes, he pushes off of MY leg! Which means I can’t get up so I freak out and try to wrangle myself and my ski poles up and just as I am about to make a clean getaway the swing hits my ass and I just about fall. It was close and I was not happy! So I calmly..or not so calmly approach my poor ski instructor of a boyfriend and say what any girl in my situation would say, “What the hell was that!?” Not only am I projecting my fear of the unknown on him but now I am pissed that he basically fed me to the ski lift wolves. Eventually, we move on from this. (he said he thought my leg was the seat).
It’s time to hit the big hill!
I slowly inch my way up to the top of the hill. I look over like I am going to suddenly drop off a cliff and assess the situation. Other skiers are whizzing past me with no care in the world. Eventually, I start down the hill, I’m picking up speed and other skiers are next to me which is something I didn’t experience on the old bunny hill. Can’t say I am a fan. I don’t know if people are behind me and I don’t like when they whiz past me. I eventually “pizza” and stop. Then Brett comes over and says you can’t stop in the middle of the hill so I go down a bit further and go off to the side. After a minute I’m ready and I am going down the hill. Haven’t fallen yet so that’s good.
I look ahead and there is a split. I can go right or left. Brett is behind me and I’m like crap what do I do? Do I go left or right? So I start to freak out and try to ‘pizza” but I can’t and I eventually end up spinning out all over the place and stop. Then I realize I stopped in the middle like I’m not supposed to so I try to crawl over to the edge. My ego has officially been crushed. Brett comes up to me laughing yelling “pizza, pizza!” I give him a quick punch in the chest and we decide to go right because that will take us to the base (bottom) of the hill.
green, blue, black
Apparently, there are green, blue and black hills. Green is for beginners..that’s me! Blue is for more intermediate skiers and the black diamonds are for the novice skiers. I will be sticking to the greens thank you! I still want to live at this point. So after what felt like forever, I make it to the bottom of the hill. What a relief! I can finally relax. Did I mention I did this in the dark? With spotlights on the hill? Yea, talk about badass right!? So I am feeling good and so proud that I made it down the green hill without falling. Then, Brett asks me, “Want to go again?” My smile fades and I immediately say, “Nope I’m good. I want to end on a good note.” 😉
Sayonara Caberfae..until the next time.
If you have had a similar experience or would like to share about your first time skiing, I would love to hear about it in the comments!
Did anyone else get schooled by kindergartners like me?
It’s a really interesting article. I guess it’s a first time for everything. Great piece!!
Thank you Ryan! It was truly an amazing experience and I am so glad that I can still push myself to learn new things!