An Adventure – Learning to Ski

Today’s Music: Tori Amos

So, here we are, in the ongoing series of “Learning to” Adventures posts.

Some of my best skiing days have happened when I was hung over. I don’t recommend that condition for actually learning to ski though.

This picture isn't me, but could have been. Many times.

Skiing (from Urban Dictionary): somethin a person does in the wintertime to convince oneself that he or she is actually enjoying the 10 degree weather.

The first thing is to get the right clothes.
The first time I went, I wore jeans. And fell a lot. All the dye in the denim seeped right through the top 20 layers of my skin, and I had blue legs through February.

Second thing is have a sense of humor.
You’re going to fall. No way around it. If you can laugh about it, you’ll be able to get back up and learn to stay up that much faster, thereby freeing yourself to laugh at the poor bastard behind you who just did a fantastic slow-mo windmilling flop. While not moving.

Third thing is to get a teacher.
By teacher I mean not just someone who knows how to ski, but someone who can teach it.

Let me explain.
So one winter, Ronnie and Meat decided I should learn how to ski. Sure, why not.
We trundled up to the mountain, and I got my rental gear and lift ticket, and we headed up the mountain. To the top.

Much scarier with planks strapped to your feet. And no idea what you're doing.

This was the lesson, as explained to me by Meat: Ronnie’ll go first and show you what to do. I’ll go behind you to pick up your stuff (see top pic) and tell you what you did wrong.

One thing I learned about cold mountain air – it clears hangovers fast. Well, that and terror.

For those of you have never been to Hunter Mountain, the main skiing face faces east. That means it is softened by the morning sun. Which means?
Exactly. When the sun crests and begins to set in the west, the east face freezes back up. Into sheet ice.

People out west mock the east coast snow. And justifiably, because their’s is much softer and fluffier.
But lemme tell you, if you can ski the east (especially someplace like Hunter), you can ski anywhere.

Back to the lesson.

The fourth thing is to Zip. Up. Your. Jacket. All the way.
We’ve already established that you will fall. At some point, you will probably Yard Sale (again, see top pic).
That’s where both your skis come off and shoot in opposite directions, your poles bounce off to God-knows-where, your hat is half buried in the snow behind you, a glove may have come off, and your lungs are twice their normal size from all the snow forced down your throat as you belly surfed down the hill.
Zipping your jacket will keep at least one square yard of snow off your chest.

Having fun yet?

Looks ridiculous, but it does work.

Good. Because it isn’t all horror. By the end of the day, I was able to use my modified snowplow to zig-zag down the mountain in one piece. I was skiing!

Meat and Ronnie gave me my first lessons in skiing parallel too (as opposed to snowplow), and this gave me (barely) enough control and (way too much) speed to be able to zip down the mountain making some truly…unique maneuvers.
I had so much fun, I eventually forgave them for their wtf teaching method.

Once I could ski at a level near theirs, we needed to add some tricks,
like the Daffy, and the Backscratcher

I've done this! And landed well!

I've done this! The landing was hilarious. And painful.

Now, my wife (the most wonderful girl in the universe) and I try and go skiing at least once a year. I taught her the basics, and she very wisely (and relationship savingly) decided to take a real lesson. She gets better every year. And so do I.

Looking back over this, I think the most important part of learning to ski is to do it because it’s fun, and you want to enjoy it.
Otherwise, you’ll end up with blue legs, or a belly full of ice, or a broken rib (that one really sucked, but I skied the rest of the day anyway), and no big stupid grin to show for it.

Bought these after I knew how to use them. They were great, but their time has passed...

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go see what lift tickets will be this season, and try on my ski hat…

Yes, I do wear it in public. Sometimes, I even wear it to work.

18 responses to “An Adventure – Learning to Ski

  1. One of my first times out was with my brother who can be a real jackass when he’s not trying. (When he IS trying he is the most uncomfortable hemorrhoid you can imagine). I had enough confidence (and far too much trust in him) to pass on a real lesson and follow his lead. The day was going well until the trust flew into the toilet as I rolled/tumbled towards the bottom losing many pieces of gear along the way. The toilet was actually flushed by his truly when he made his way down (I thought) to help me peel myself out of the snow and find my composure (and my hat and gloves). Instead of pulling up slowly and stopping alongside, he pulled the sharpest hockey stop known to mankind, skidding to a stop just inches above me. In doing this, he successfully transferred multiple cubic feet of snow from the slope into the tiny gap between my shirt and my body, You cannot truly know the meaning of cold until you have spent time in the Chilean Andes in the dead of winter with little more than a windbreaker and a flannel sheet to wrap around your body but this runs a close second. To top it off, aside from the laughter, I believe all he said was “whoops.” Bastard!

    It’s a good thing for him that we don’t ski together now because I can ski rings around him even without my skis on. Maybe I should invite him on the off chance he doesn’t remember that episode.

    How about that as an addition to your Adventures in Learning Series?

    PS That’s one weird hat, dude. If you send me your address, I’ll send you a normal one.


    • Are you sure you didn’t claim you knew how to ski at the time?
      And as far as the hockey stop, ask yourself “Did I earn it?” The answer may surprise you.
      Maybe he’ll take you up on the challenge and we’ll find out what’s what. Though we’d have to get his side of the story too, as rumor is, you enjoy “revisionist” history…

      And that is the Greatest. Hat. Ever.


  2. Hangover cure, agreed, Skiing with a hangover is tough, but not as tough as skiing while still drunk. I am one of those westerners and I have to say that the sun sets in the west here as well, so ice is an issue here to, on some hills. haha. The snow is different that is for sure. You said you’d done Mont-Tremblant. 2800 feet, not to high. We’ve skied from 10,000 at Panorama in BC, with, and I’m guessing, from memory, a 2 mile run that is a great cruiser, blue and green with a few black sections. Right from the top, all the way to the bottom. The difference, in Canada anyway, is our aerial skiers are from the East, our downhill and slalom guys are from out west. Height. length and ice make the racers, less height and more snow make the aerials and mogul skiers. At any place, it is a great sport and a great way to see some beautiful sights.


    • Thanks John. BC just moved up my list of places to go.
      I enjoy the drunk skiing more than the hungover kind myself.

      The long cruising trails are fantastic. Even if it just zig-zags down the face. I like moments when i have the trail to myself, wind is light, and I get to just stop and listen to the sounds around me – birds, melt runoff, trees creaking under ice.
      Icing on the cake.


  3. I never been skiing. Not a lot of opportunity here in Chicago. I went parasailing in Lake Tahoe once. Terrifying.

    Not as scary as that hat, though.


    • My girl and I did a tandem parasail in Key West. Too beautiful for words.

      And it’s obvious that your attack on the hat is just an attempt to disguise your longing for so magnificent a chapeau!
      Don’t you have a fun hat to wear when you cook (something other than the usual chef hat)?


  4. I love the Urban Dictionary definition. Skiing is something I’ve never done, but I also don’t really want to.
    1. Cold
    2. Expensive
    3. Snow Gets in Your Pants
    4. Injuries
    I’m more of a stay inside and sip hot chocolate gal.


  5. who needs skiing? πŸ˜‰

    i went once. with my bro. i smashed into a tree and fell over. my bro was too embarrassed to help me up.


    • Sadly, I revel in others and my own stupidity when skiing. When I broke a rib skiing, I found my friends and said “Guys, I’m in so much pain. You gotta come ski this run with me – It was awesome.”

      And it was.


  6. I skied for the first time year before last. My sister tried (as nicely as she could) to teach me and that ended in my crying and stuck on a mountain. Next day I took real lessons and actually began to see why people like it.


  7. i’m jealous. we don’t have snow in our planet.


  8. found your blog on aol and was just what i was looking for, keep it up πŸ™‚


  9. you should update more often great read, also like the layout of the page.


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