I Skied and I Didn’t Die
On Valentine’s Day, I did something I wasn’t sure I’d ever do again in my life. I SNOW SKIED.
In 1996, my family and I took a ski trip to Beaver Creek, Colorado with some generous family friends. I was sixteen and had never snow skied before, though I’d been waterskiing for several years. From the first day of ski school, I had trouble. They taught us the classic “french fries and pizza.” My serious attempts at pizza were really painful to my knees (and mostly ineffective anyway). Only a few months out from my senior marching season, I was afraid of doing lasting damage that might make me unable to march. So basically, I could ski, but I couldn’t stop. And as we all know…
On the last day of our trip, I agreed to take a green “cinch” course with the rest of my family. It allegedly involved a lot of switchbacks and was very easy. Well, “easy” is relative if you’re unable to stop and are therefore absolutely terrified to build up any speed. It took me (and thus, unfortunately, my dad) three exhausting, tearstained hours to make it down that mountain. I assumed I would never go near a pair of skis again.
As the years have passed, I’ve increasingly wanted a re-do of my ski experience. I’m not the person I was at sixteen (who is?). I’m braver, stronger, and, weirdly enough, in better shape. I’ve disliked having this massive failure on my record that’s trotted out and laughed at a few times a year. I’ve felt pretty sure I could do better if given another chance.
My parents and I always go to Evansville to visit my brother over Presidents’ Day weekend. We always discuss the option of Paoli Peaks, a manmade ski resort a couple of hours from his house. (Kevin goes sometimes with friends.) This year, I told them I really wanted to go. So on Valentine’s morning, we hit the road.
I remembered using long, skinny, unwieldy skis in Beaver Creek. The wider, almost kid-sized ones I got at Paoli reassured me right off the bat. My mom, Kevin, and I did the practice slope a few times to get my legs under me. Then Kevin said I was ready and led me to the start of the green slope. It started with a good-sized drop, but he assured me the course flattened out further down. The hill was crowded. I wasn’t sure I had the control to avoid people. I stared down that slope for about ten minutes before my brain finally convinced my body that it was doing this whether it liked it or not. Then I took off. When Kevin caught up with me in the middle, he was thrilled at first. Then he noticed I was having a mild panic attack (something I didn’t realize until he retold the story later). I was short of breath, shaking uncontrollably, and pretty much felt like I was about to die, but I assured him repeatedly that I was fine. After we went down the second drop, which was steeper than the first, I knew the hardest part was over because now I knew I could do it. I HAD SKIED. And the more times I skied the course, the more I had fun!
One day wasn’t enough time for me to learn to stop or turn very well. As of now, I have one speed: fast. The key to skiing was overcoming my instinct to fight the speed. I stopped trying to stop and just let gravity do its thing. That’s great, but it’s also why I didn’t progress to more advanced slopes. Kevin and I went to a blue, but I decided to pass because taking it head-on would have been crazy fast. He skied it by himself and came back saying, “Yeah, you wouldn’t have liked that one today.”
At the end of the day, we finally convinced our mom to ski the green slope with us (she’d happily remained on the bunny slope all day). I was proud of her for trying it. As soon as the three of us got on the ski lift, Kevin said “I’ve been waiting all day for this,” busted a grill out of his pocket, and took a selfie.
Call him George Foreman, ’cause he’s selling everybody grillz
Skiing is probably no big deal to many of you, but to me, it was a HUGE deal and a personal Day of Victory. Special thanks to Kevin for coaching me along, and to my parents for taking another chance on a known flight risk.
About Brenda W.Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister's iced tea. View all posts by Brenda W. →
Posted in family, milestone, travel