First of all, you have to understand this about me: I am a Klutz. That’s right… with a capital “K”. Apparently I got into the wrong line when they were giving out gracefulness. I got in the line for clumsy, klutzy and awkward — the triple threat. So, you get the picture? Roller skating = skinned knees. Bike riding = skinned knees & shins.
So, when I was in High School, of course I HAD to go on the church’s Young Adult Club ski trip. Whoo boy! Skiing!
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I was bad.
Well, I was. I didn’t get hurt, but as I look back and think about it now, I don’t think I actually skied all that much. It was very cold and I remember being very wet. Much more than that …no… no other real memories. Even the photos I have of the event aren’t any help (but none of them show ME or a ski slope, so I’m not posting them. But here’s Ted Ligety instead.)
But… somehow… I caught the “I Love Skiing” bug.
In college, I went skiing twice I think. Yes, I was clearly obsessed. Then I moved to Arizona. And you guessed it, I took ski lessons for four consecutive weekends with a co-worker, then we treated ourselves to an afternoon of skiing in Flagstaff. Where there was very little snow. Fortunately, there are no pictures which record the following:
Honestly, I was comfortable staying on the bunny slope. But she said, “we took the lessons, let’s go on the next hill!” I was hesitant. I was anti-next hill. No good can come from this move, I thought. Or something to that effect. But, ever the pleaser, I found myself on the lift to the next height after “bunny hill”.
The first 100 feet or so was nice. Relatively level and not too bumpy. I can do this. I remember thinking that. Yes, I was now a “next hill” girl. Then… we turned to the left and I saw the cliff I was now expected to ski down. OH GOD NO, I’M GONNA DIE. This was my initial reaction. The reaction after that — when I’d calmed down — was I’M TOO YOUNG TO DIE LIKE THIS!!! But, intrepidly, I went on. I’d taken the lessons, dammit and I was ready to do this!
The narrow gully I was supposed to glide down (effortlessly) was rocky. And the very sparse covering of snow barely hid those rocks which urged me on to ski to my death. I kept falling and getting up and turning myself toward the other wall of the canyon, and falling when I got there. I was getting wet and the sun was going down and I was getting cold. I wanted off the hill! I missed my bunnies and wondered if they missed me. Since I would never get off this “mountain” I doubted that anyone would ever see me again. Suddenly! I spotted a rescue sled go by. “Sorry, no room!” echoed from the moving sled as it sped on toward comfort and joy. “We’ll come ba-a-a-a-a-a-a-ck.” Sure, I thought. I’ll be found here among the rocks, just a skeleton, when it thaws in the spring. My class-taking coworker (who was about 10 years younger than I was), was just bounding her way around the “next hill”. “How can she be so reckless speeding around this treacherous mountain like that”, I wondered, as I slowly plodded, foot by foot, down the mountainside. Yo there! a pleasant man said, How about I take your skis down to the bottom for you and you can walk down. You’ll probably make better time on foot and the rescue sled will stop for you anyway. They’re good at getting everyone rescued before the sun is totally gone. So, I removed my thin pieces of rented plywood and handed them over to a complete stranger, hoping that he wasn’t just looking to steal some idiot’s rented skis, and I began to slowly make my way down on foot. As promised, however, a rescue sled did come and get me. I waved to my ecstatic friend as the sled passed her by, gliding ably to the lodge. While I’ll admit I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the bunny hill, my time on the next hill was death-defying, it was a long time before I even considered sliding down a mountain.
But when I did, it was because I’d “won” a ski trip to Colorado at a radio station event. I was just giddy with excitement. So much so that I’d assumed it was a trip for 2 and invited a friend only to learn AT THE BUS that it was trip for one and that my friend could go if we paid for her — there and then! After solving this hurdle, off we went to Purgatory, where, again, I remember very little of my actual time on the slopes, apart from the fact that I stayed (emphatically!) on the bunny hill and I remember thinking how well I was skiing that day. But not enough to be tempted by “the next hill”.
Still, every year, I glue myself to the TV watching the best skiers in the world work for the elusive World Cup trophy. I love to watch the downhill events — there’s so much excitement. First of all, about 2 minutes careening to a certain death and managing to stay very alive is just so amazing. And each of the 30 or so skiers has the potential to go a hundredth of a second faster than the person in front of them and “take the lead”. In skiing, it isn’t over until it’s over. When the last one comes down the hill, THAT’S when they can finally say, We have a winner! Sometimes I have to remind myself to breathe when I’m watching downhill. Then there’s the sheer guts I think you have to have to even consider doing what they do. And this is one sport where I actually like watching both the men and the women compete. I also like watching Slalom and Super G although I don’t know which is which. And I’ve been watching for years and years.
It really disappointed me when, about 2 years ago, my cable provider stopped showing World Cup skiing on one of the Sports Channels. I really like having the skiing on when I’m doing chores on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I like hearing the names of the places in Austria, Italy and France, like Kitzbuehel, Val Gardena, and Val d Isere. My favorite is Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany — I just love the way it sounds. I also enjoy the festive atmosphere at each location as the locals who are ski crazy people root on their local heroes — the Swiss with their cowbells and all the banners and warm ski-bunny outfits are just great!
No, I’m no athlete. But if I could ever get over my feelings of FEAR, a downhill skier is what I’d be!