This past weekend Matt and I finally got a chance to get up to his Aunt and Uncle’s place in Vermont. The house is located on Mt. Snow and the Dew Tour was in town that weekend, the first time it had ever come to the east coast so it was pretty exciting. We were both looking forward to spending some time with the family and really happy to do so somewhere other than a wedding or a funeral; it did not hurt that they have a hot tub on the back deck and Aunt T really did not have to twist my arm too hard at the promise of spiked hot chocolate. Matt’s primary objective was to ski for the first time in about three years. My primary objective with skiing is to never do it again.
As far back as I can remember I fervently made a declaration that I would never get on a pair of skis. I could not understand why someone would feel compelled to lock themselves on two pieces of fiberglass and then fling their body down the side of a mountain at a billion miles an hour while simultaneously trying to avoid falling on their face and attempting to steer clear of crashing into trees. Maneuvering is further complicated by the fact that the person is bundled up in thermal underwear, a long sleeve shirt, sweater, jacket, scarf, mittens, goggles, boots…ugh, forget it, I am tired just writing out the list never mind spending the forty minutes it takes to get into all that gear. But despite my objections, a few years ago I decided that life is too short to say words like never so I agreed to go with Matt and S & B to give it a try. I figured if it turned out to be something I enjoyed, well, that might just make the winters here feel a bit less sucky.
We went up to Pats Peak because it was fairly close and not the most enormous mountain so everyone would get in a full day of a bunch of runs. Of course we began the day on the bunny trail. I did well on the rope tow; it was fine to be dragged up, it was the coming down part that did not gel well in my brain. As six year olds whizzed past me screaming “on your right!” I attempted a couple tries at weaving back and forth across the trail and not killing anyone at the bottom when I felt as if I would never stop moving. After a few runs they all felt I was ready for a chair lift and who was I to argue? Since the first time I ever skied was that morning how was I to know that most people either A) do not attempt this feat on their first time out or B) fall either getting on the lift, off, or both.
S explained the finer points of the chair lift on our way over to the base. She indicated that it would come up behind us and that I should just let it bump me into sitting; to not fight it. Sounded easy enough and boom, we were on our way up without falling. As we rode up to the top where it was literally 4 degrees that day (I have since been told these are neither normal or ideal skiing conditions), she explained to me how to get out of the chair -- tips up slightly, don’t cross them and let the chair give me the gliding push I needed to safely get out of the way of the people coming up in the next chair. I was relieved to find out that I was not deposited directly onto a ski trail from the chair as I had feared. So the little snow bump arrived and up went my tips. I managed to glide right over to the flat area at the top of the trail and stop to wait for Matt and B.
All three of them dropped their jaw and through my ear muffs, scarf, hat and hood I am pretty sure I heard them mention something like they had all fallen their first time off a chair lift and that I was doing really good. I really can not be sure though, the wind was an added sound buffer. So now came the super fun part where I had to get back down to the bottom and believe me, I remembered exactly how long it took in that chair to get to the top so I was not encouraged. They told me to “pizza” my skis without crossing the tips (or I would fall over) and bend my knees in to stop. Oh, ok, that sounds easy enough and I had come this far so what was the worst that could happen right?
The sound buffer must have blocked out that part where one of my knees should be slightly in front of the other in order to really slow down because I never once felt as if I did and immediately knew I was going to be in a race to the bottom -- I would not breath again until I was on flat ground so could I make it before I turned blue? Here is what went through my mind on that first run down the nice wide green trail:
“Holy crap, do not hit that tree!”
“TURN you stupid freaking skis! TURN!”
“Holy shit there are trees over there too!”
“TURN! TURN! TURN!”
“Oh my stars I swear this mountain was shorter on the way up.”
“Matt must have taken out a life insurance policy on me.”
I reached the bottom and exhaled the only thing that kept me alive. My friends reached me and I am not joking that, basically, they said:
“Holy shit are you sure you have never skied before? You were swishing back and forth like a pro and kicking up snow off the back of your skis like it was no thing. Yeah, bad at skiing my ass.”
Somehow in the light headedness from my hysterical laughter at their completely incorrect assessment of my “abilities”, which I like to refer to as flailing wildly out of control of my own body, as well as the fact that I somehow managed to live on my first run, I miraculously found myself back on the chair lift and doing that little swishing dance of death two more times that day. The one and only time I fell was on my final run and I did it on purpose so I didn’t mow over the family of four who decided to spend their break in the middle of the trail. Damn them.
In the car on the way home they were all so excited about my performance and said how they couldn’t wait to get me back out again and gee, wasn’t I so excited by how great skiing was. Luckily we had lowered altitude by this point and my brain cells kicked back in so I was aware enough to understand that the feeling I had on the way down was not one I ever desired to experience again. But at least I tried it to know for sure.
To this day they all still try to convince me that it was the icy snow or the freezing temperatures that made me feel uncomfortable but to me, planting my butt on the nice warm leather sofa, sipping spiked hot chocolate and watching the ShamWow TV sales guy chop cashews and make statements like “You’re going to love my nuts” while laughing with Matt’s Aunt is about as extreme as I will get in the snow. That hot tub on the other hand, well that is just nice no matter how much effort I did not exert.