Saturday, January 12, 2013

First Time on the Slopes

Today, I tried skiing for the first time. Actually last week was my first time on skis, but I don't really count that. I got through part of a beginner lesson; the instructor went over how to put the skis on, how to take them off, proper stance and pole position, and how to do a controlled "snowplow" down the hill. Halfway down our first hill, I felt sick and nearly passed out, for reasons which I still can't quite explain. It was probably a combination of factors. At any rate, the resort was nice enough to give me a rain check so I could come back and try again (not a big deal since we live ten minutes away). Which I did today. And, well . . . I spent a lot of time looking like this.

My pride.

I started out doing several runs on the bunny hill. Actually I started out on a stretch of snow that can hardly even be called a bunny hill, with only the slightest grade to it, practicing my snowplow to the "bottom," and then taking a carpet lift back to the "top."

The first time I did the bunny hill, it was kind of by accident. I was practicing turning, and went just a little too far down the hill before I could get back over to the side with the lift. So I was basically funneled into the first real hill. It wasn't too bad . . . not nearly as bad as my first chair lift ride! Holy crap was that terrifying! (Oh, have I mentioned I'm afraid of heights?)

After that, I did the "bunny field," as I'll call it, for a few more runs, mainly to avoid the chair lift, but then I did a few runs down the hill, and I felt much more comfortable on the skis (and slightly more comfortable on the lift). So we decided to move on to the next hill . . . and that's where the trouble began.

It was still marked as a beginner hill, and we could tell on the map that it was much longer, but there was no real indication of just how much steeper it was. As we quickly discovered: considerably. Still probably nothing at all for an experienced skier, but for me it was a HUGE difference. And unfortunately, once you start down this hill, there's nothing you can do but get all the way to the bottom, one way or another.

The steeper grade, combined with rather icy conditions, meant that I couldn't keep myself nice and slow and controlled nearly as easily as I could on the other hill. Not to mention that, since it was so much longer, even if I did get a good snowplow going, I could only hold it for so long before my legs started cramping up, at which point I'd ease up on the pressure, start sliding out of control, and tumble to the ground. This happened probably about ten times before we finally got to the bottom. I was so mad, and so frustrated, and so humiliated. Not to mention cold and sore.

This was the thought that got me through.

To be fair, I probably wasn't quite ready to advance to the next hill. But I still can't help being disappointed in the options for beginner skiers at this place. Because, as I now see, I can either bore myself to tears doing the bunny hill (which takes maybe a minute to get to the bottom) over and over and over again, or frustrate and embarrass myself to tears trying to tackle the next hill. Either way, tears are involved. There really needs to be an in-between, a hill that is the same grade as the bunny hill but longer, or the same grade as the other beginner hill but shorter. Either one of those would have done such a better job preparing me.

I have to hope that the difference isn't quite so pronounced in better conditions, but come on. I didn't fall ONCE on the first hill, but I fell within my first ten seconds on the second? And it wouldn't have been so bad if I didn't have to go ALL the way to the bottom of the mountain once I'd started, if there was a chair lift that started halfway down or so and brought you back up (but then we're getting back to the "steeper but shorter" option that I already mentioned).

Anyway, after that ordeal we stopped for lunch (and hot cocoa). I wanted to be done for the day -- I was REALLY sore from all that falling -- but Pat convinced me to at least do the bunny hill a couple more times, now that I had a better idea of what lay ahead and could practice the skills I'd need to get down the big hill. I agreed, somewhat reluctantly, but on our second run down I got flustered and fell, and I knew I was done. I was tired, cold, sore, and upset, and I knew if I tried to keep going I'd just keep making more mistakes and getting more upset. I'd given skiing a fair shot . . . and even after all that I'm pretty sure I will give it another shot. Just not today.

Next time I think we're going to go to the other ski resort in the area; that's the one Pat used to visit when he was younger, and he thinks they have a better progression of hills. But, it's been about ten years since he was there. So I guess we'll see.


  1. The longer runs you're looking or are in places like Colorado. They even have places to stop partway down to for lunch or hot chocolate! I agree with your perspective for the beginner. I am glad that you are going to try again though! I hope you have more fun next time and want to keep it up!--Marilyn

  2. Was this in Galena? Because if so, I know exactly what you're saying and I remember the non-bunny hill all. too. well. If not, I was picturing that place in your story and I do not recommended that for your next ski trip.

    1. No, this place is in Iowa, Sundown Mountain. The place Pat is suggesting is Chestnut Mountain, which I think is the one you're thinking of... if we go again this winter I'll have to do a compare and contrast.

    2. Chestnut=NOT AWESOME. Might I recommend Villa Olivia?