≡ Menu

Time To Stretch My Legs Against the Snow

I knew it was coming. I could close my eyes and stick my fingers in my ears and scream, “AHLALALALALA!” all I wanted, but that wasn’t going to keep it from descending upon me. And finally, bringing with it a feeling of dread for my stomach, it’s here.

Ski season.

That time of the year when my husband leaves me at the top of a mountain, standing shaky in my skis and smelling like wet wool and wanting to vomit, where I try to convince myself that chucking myself down this hill isn’t going to kill me. That season of sore thighs and tweaked knees and bruised ankles. Early mornings, frozen assholes, and always feeling like I’m going to die.

Fuck ski season.

Kidding! (Mostly.) I actually enjoy skiing. (Mostly.) The thing is, I just learned how to ski last winter. It took me pretty much the entire season to become (somewhat) confident in my ability not to die. And by that, I mean by the end of the season I could (usually) make it down the mountain without any (major) wipe outs. I was certainly past the bunny hill, and even tackling some blue squares, but still very much a beginner. The hardest part for me about learning to ski was getting past the voice in my head that went, “HOLY FUCK THAT’S A STEEP HILL, YOU ARE GOING TO DIIIIIIIIE!” My body could learn the movements, but my mind was so terrified that the fear grabbed hold of my body and my body locked up. Which, I don’t think I have to explain to any of you, is a sure-fired recipe for falling down. By the end of the season, I’d managed to convince my brain to come up with other mantras, (like, “YOU ARE AWESOME-but you’re still going to die-AND YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!) and relax just enough to get myself to the bottom of the hill (mostly) unscathed.

But that was last season. It’s been nine months since I last skied. Nine months for my muscles to forget the movement, and nine months for my mind to forget what I’m capable of. And when I once again found myself standing at the top of Gore Mountain, staring at the obstacles ahead of me, I was certain, with every ounce of my being, that I had no business anywhere but the bunny hill.

One of the beauties of skiing is that the general concept doesn’t allow for backing out. You are at the top of the mountain, and there’s only one way to get down: ski down. (Well, you can ride the gondola back down, but god help you. Even the people who love you will bust your balls for the next forever.)  So I did what I always do: take a deep breath, curse Kyle for introducing me to this suicidal hobby, and throw myself down the mountain.

Luckily, all the circumstances of the mountain were in my favor today. It was a warmer day, but the snow held up for most of the day. The only full run that was open today was one that was within my skill level, with some challenges to keep things suicidal interesting. And, blessedly, traffic on the mountain was sparse, which meant less people to contend with and less people to witness my wipe outs.

And amazingly, through some miracle of mind and movement and sheer motherfucking stubbornness, my body remembered how to ski. I still don’t totally understand it. Sure, there were a couple of moments when I found myself face-down in the show, skies twisted and dignity bruised. (Weirdly, both times I fell were at relatively flat parts of the mountain. No, can’t fall down at the steep drop-off  or the bumpy section, I have to fall down in front of the mountain-top lodge where it’s perfectly flat. Thank god no one was around to see that one.) But somehow, my body knew (more or less) what it was doing, and after an initial, “HOLY FUCK!” my brain managed to relax its grip just enough that I was (almost) relaxed.

Dare I say, it was almost fun.

Which means I guess I’m in it for another season. Another season of bruises and scrapes and our apartment smelling like wet socks. Another season of waking up early on my days off and freezing my ass off on the side of the mountain. Of spending cozy time with Kyle in the gondolas. And hot chocolate for the ride home. And feeling crazy proud of myself when I overcome the physical challenge of the mountain and the mental challenges of my fear.

Fuck (yeah!) ski season.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • SVV December 14, 2011, 11:01 am

    Fuck Yeah ski season! Which I will not be enjoying this year. Since I’ve virtually been on vacation since April.. Stupid world.

    No frozen assholes, blah.

  • Kate December 14, 2011, 11:32 am

    I haven’t skied since my high school years a decade ago. Although my skill level usually stayed at beginner with perhaps a tiny leap into intermediate, I always had a lot of fun.
    But my problem with skiing is that it is a sport that requires snow, and you see, I would much rather be doing damn near anything without snow than doing something in the snow.

    Actually, the reason we love skiing so much is because we both suffer from mild amounts of seasonal depression. Without skiing, there’s nothing to do all winter but hate the snow, wait until spring, and try not to kill ourselves. But when there’s skiing to look forward to, we don’t mind the winter so much.

  • Camels & Chocolate December 14, 2011, 2:08 pm

    I’m going skiing for the first (and possibly only) time this season when I fly out to Tahoe for a conference next month. You know the only thing scarier than skiing? SKIING WITH PROFESSIONAL SKIERS AND BOARDERS AND A WHOLE BEVY OF JOURNALISTS WHO WORK FOR THE VARIOUS SNOW SPORTS MAGAZINES.

    (Hold me now.)

    Oh holy fuck balls, I don’t think my dignity would ever recover!

  • Jenbug December 16, 2011, 12:38 pm

    Oh. Hell. No. There’s no way you could get me to hurl my ass down a mountain – a trail, maybe, but not a friggin’ mountain. I’d be a total pussy and take the lift back down the mountain and not feel ashamed one teensy bit. There’s no shame in self preservation (insert battle cry). However, since you two *clearly* have the death wish (or SAD, but death wish is so much more dramatic!), I hope you thoroughly enjoy yourselves! Just don’t get too frozen or injured to blog. Mwah! =)

  • Miss Melicious December 16, 2011, 2:56 pm

    I have NEVER skied….I know, eh? What sort of Canadian has never skied?! I did go snow boarding once, but let’s face it, it was more to pick up guys than actually learn to snow board. :).

    Seriously, how have you not been deported yet?

  • JD December 21, 2011, 8:20 am

    Great Blog Steph. Here’s a story i came across and it proves you haven’t done the ultimate ski incident:=)

    A lady went up a mountain she should have stayed away from. No one would have blamed her had she stayed behind. At twelve degrees below zero, even Frosty the Snowman would have stayed near a warm fire. Hardly a day for snow skiing, but her husband insisted and she went.

    While waiting in the lift line, she realized she was in need of a restroom, dire need of a restroom. Assured there would be one at the top of the lift, she and her bladder endured the bouncy ride, only to find there was no facility. She began to panic. Her husband had an idea. “Why not go into the woods?” Since she was wearing an all-white outfit, she’d blend in with the snow. And what better powder room than a piney grove?

    What choice did she have? She skied past the tree line and arranged her ski suit at half mast. Fortunately, no one could see her. Unfortunately, her husband hadn’t told her to remove her skis. Before you could say, “Shine on harvest moon,” she was streaking backwards across the slope, revealing more about herself than she ever intended. (After all, hindsight is 20/20.) With arms flailing and skis sailing, she sped under the very lift she’d just ridden and collided with a pylon.

    As she scrambled to cover her bared essentials, she discovered her arm was broken. Fortunately her husband raced to her rescue. He summoned the ski patrol, who transported her to the hospital.

    While being treated in the emergency room, a man with a broken leg was carried in and placed next to her. By now she’d regained her composure enough to make small talk. “So, how’d you break your leg?” she asked.

    “It was the darndest thing you ever saw,” he explained. “I was riding up the ski lift and suddenly I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was this crazy woman skiing backwards, at top speed. I leaned over to get a better look and I guess I didn’t realize how far I’d moved. I fell out of the lift.”

    Then he turned to her and asked, “So how’d you break your arm?”

Leave a Comment