This past weekend I did something I have never done before. I went skiing! As a Southern California girl I have never even contemplated skiing. I know some So Cal natives do ski regularly because we have places like Big Bear and Snow Summit, but my family has never so much as dreamed about a ski trip. Mr. BFT has been skiing his whole life, though, and was even on his high school ski team. Basically he’s a pro.
When we made the decision to spend an extended Christmas visit with his family in Rhode Island, his parents asked if we would want to spend a couple days in New Hampshire at a ski lodge. I was worried I would be a little bored, but I was told it was more like a hotel resort than a bare-bones ski cabin, and there would be things to do like drink hot cocoa by the lounge fireplace or have a drink in the restaurant or take a dip in the heated pool. At the very least I could watch DVDs in the hotel room or do some work. So we planned on spending three days and two nights at Attitash mountain with Mr. BFT’s parents, sister, brother-in-law, and our two nieces.
Right before we left California, Mr. BFT came to me with a proposal: Would I want to take a ski lesson? He was checking the snow report on the resort’s website and found a special deal just for the weekend we were visiting: $29 for a three hour group lesson, including all the equipment rental! I was nervous about trying something new but this was a good opportunity to do something I had never even contemplated before, so why not?!?
When I woke up the day of my lesson, I looked out the window and saw a light snow fall! I had only seen snow fall once in my life, and it was very slushy. Mr. BFT said this was “perfect snow.” A light snow fall continued during my entire lesson, and I gotta say it was pretty cool for this California girl to learn to ski in a light snow fall! At 10:30am it came time for my lesson and Mr. BFT went to the Learning Center with me to help me out. He helped me pick out my ski boots, skis, poles, and helmet and I got all bundled up and ready to go outside. The only problem was, I had to climb a flight of stairs to get outside! I seemed to be the only person out of 15 students in my class who had trouble climbing those stairs in my ski boots while holding my equipment. I couldn’t hold onto the rail and I kept losing my balance! Finally an employee came to help me, but by the time I rejoined my class, I was already way behind on my lesson! And I never really caught back up.
Getting my equipment sorted. I’m the last one in the equipment room.
The first thing they did was teach us how to snap our boots into our skis, but I missed it so I slowly figured it out myself with some trial and error. Then they had us scoot around in a circle with one ski on, to get a feel for it. Then we snapped the other ski on and used our poles to push ourselves around in a circle. Except for me, I tried to move and immediately slid one leg forward, lost my balance, and fell (bracing myself with my right wrist and shoulder, which are already bad). An instructor tried to teach me how to get up but I didn’t have enough coordination or arm strength to get up on my own, and the instructor was too tiny to lift me. I had to unsnap one ski so I could get my balance and push myself up. While all this was happening, the rest of my class was way ahead, learning something else. As soon as I got myself back up and snapped back together, and I saw everyone else zooming along, the tears starting falling. Haha, yep, I was already crying 15 minutes into my lesson. The instructor stayed with me and tried to get me caught up. We practiced walking in my skis, pushing myself along, and sideways walking. She helped me go down a little slope, then had me push along to catch up with the class, who were already taking their first run down the learning center slope. As I made my way up the snowbelt, a little moving walkway that takes you to the top of the slope, more tears came. I was feeling soooo embarrassed and to be honest, I wanted to quit. I knew skiing would be difficult but I didn’t think I would have problems with the simple things. I certainly wasn’t cut out for this.
Scooting around with one ski. Notice everyone in the class already has both skis on.
I got to the top of the hill and my instructor asked me to go down the slope and go in a big “S” shape. OMG, seriously? I can barely glide along in these things. But I went. I managed to make one wide turn and then back towards the middle and then I started picking up speed. I realized I had no idea how to brake. Mr. BFT was at the bottom of the slope taking some pictures. I saw him and yelled out “How do I stop!!?!” He wasn’t expecting me to say that, of course, and it took him a couple seconds to yell back, “Turn! Turn!” I turned to the left as sharply as I could and of course I spun out and landed forward on my knees. The instructor caught up with me and again tried to teach me how to get up, and of course I couldn’t. Meanwhile 4-year-old kids are zooming by, to add insult to injury. Once again my instructor snapped my skis off so I could stand up. At this point my instructor asked me, “Have you ever gone ice skating?”
Instructor: “Ride a bike?”
Me: “Not in over 20 years, no.”
Instructor: “Soooo, do you do any kind of exercise, at all?”
Me: “No,” because at this point the tears were falling again and it was easier to just say “no” instead of “Well, I do yoga three times a week and sometimes I go running, but I guess that doesn’t help me with skiing at all, huh.”
Back on the snowbelt to the top of the learning slope and my instructor tells me to go again in an “S” shape. “Can you PLEASE teach me how to stop???” I beg of her. She laughed and said she thought I learned how at the start of class! Um, no, you were helping me dig out of the snow at the start of class, remember? She tells me to point the front of my skis inward and the back of my skis outward, like an upside-down V. (As my lesson went on, I heard the little kid instructors refer to this as making pizza, and as straight skis as french fries. Why couldn’t I be in THAT class?? That is terminology I can relate to.)
So I start to go down the slope with my french fries, and as soon as I started to pick up a little speed, I made pizza. I slowed down and as I made my pizza slice wider, I stopped. Game changer. I made french fries again and started moving. I went down the slope in the wide “S,” making pizza every time I felt I was moving too fast. I made it to the bottom and made pizza to stop. I made it to the bottom and I didn’t fall! I felt so accomplished and Mr. BFT told me I did great. My instructor was now helping a couple other people who fell a little behind so I took it upon myself to go back up the ramp and do a couple solo runs. I was really enjoying myself now that I knew how to control my speed.
On the snowbelt.
After a few times on the learning slope, our instructor told all of us stragglers that it was time to go over to the steeper learning slope. The steeper slope was an extreme difference from the first slope, and used an actual lift to get to the top. But before we could get on the lift, said our instructor, we needed to side-step climb about one-forth up the hill and do an “S” run from there. And if we did that fine, we could go up the lift. Of course, ski-walking to that slope seemed to be difficult only for me, and I fell way behind. My glory days were over. Side-stepping up the slope was also difficult, and by the time I reached the instructor, my other classmates had already done one run and were lining up behind me. I was exhausted from the climb but I felt pressure to go, so I went and started to turn and then realized I was picking up speed VERY quickly and I panicked. I went french fries the rest of the way down and then made pizza to stop at the bottom but it took a while and I was nearly all the way back at the smaller slope by the time I finally stopped. Which meant I had to side step allllll the way back to the big slope. By the time I got there, the instructor picked out three people who were ready to go on the lift. She told me and two other students to keep side-stepping and practicing on the one-forth slope. I side-stepped my way up and made a sloppy “S” on the way down. After that, I was exhausted. It took me about 5 minutes to side-step up and about 10 seconds to ski down. As a fellow student said to me, “The effort vs payoff doesn’t seem to be equal.” I was breathing heavy and couldn’t fathom doing it again. Clearly I was not in the right physical shape for this lesson.
At some point the other instructor came down the mountain and asked if the three of us were ready for the lift. We all said yes and started to walk over, when the instructor looked at me (and only me) and said “Did the other instructor say you were ready for the lift?” A little taken aback, I said, “No, not exactly.” The instructor said I couldn’t go with them. I was kind of shocked, but stayed behind and watched the last of the students go up the mountain without me. As the embarrassment tears started up again, I scooted over towards where Mr. BFT was waiting and I told him I was done. All the instructors abandoned me and I was embarrassed I couldn’t keep up with the class and I wanted to go. He said I still had about 30 minutes left for my equipment rental and said I should go back to the smaller slope since I was having fun on that slope earlier, so I don’t end the day on a low note, but, no. I was exhausted from side-stepping and I wanted to be done. He helped me get out of my skis and we waited for one of our instructors to get down to the bottom of the slope so I could tell her I was leaving. Of course at that point they offered to take me up the lift. But, I had enough excitement for the day. Even though I felt frustrated, I knew I had accomplished a lot. My goal for the day was to get skis on, get moving, and not end up in the ER! I never expected to be able to tackle a big steep slope with Mr. BFT and his family. And Mr. BFT said he was watching a lot of students fall over and over again and he was very proud of what I was able to do in just two short hours. I was happy with my accomplishment and I was looking forward to taking my heavy, uncomfortable boots off, eating a huge lunch, and treating my sore muscles in the hot tub.
I had fun my first time out skiing, despite the frustrations. We agreed that if I were to take another lesson, it would be worth it to spend the money on a private lesson so I can go at my own pace and not compare myself to other students. I’m sure I will get another chance to improve my skiing skills, and in the meantime I’ll work on my upper body strength!
Have you ever gone skiing? Do you remember your first skiing lesson? Or are you more of a beach bum, like me?