For New Years this year my husband and I went on a ski trip with his school to Kicking Horse Resort in Golden, BC. It was a last minute addition to our holidays, but it was FREE! I love free things, so I agreed after a few moments of contemplation. Then I promptly went out and purchased some snow pants, gloves, ski socks and a few other cold weather necessities since I start to freeze whenever the temperature drops below -8 Celsius. I realized that I would be spending some quality time face to face with immense amounts of snow, so I decided to be prepared! Any excuse to shop really.
Jon and I heard that snow blades are the way to go – so we each rented a pair on the mountain and strapped them on. Once we were all ready to start skiing I immediately had to go to the washroom. I started the hike across the lodge in my ski boots. When you rent your skis for the first time, you should have to participate in a class called, "Walking in You Boots Without Making a Fool of Yourself". You have absolutely no mobility from your big toe to your mid calf – it’s extremely difficult to not look ridiculous while walking. I clomped awkwardly and very loudly across the lodge and nearly tumbled down the stairs about three times before I reached the bottom.
Finally Jon and I started skiing…or I thought we did. We started down a hill of about a five degree incline close to the ski lift. I started to scream and panic. Jon started to sigh. We saw a ski class in action 30 feet up the small slope so I laboriously side stepped close enough to covertly eavesdrop until it became obvious that I was doing everything they were doing only 10 feet behind them. The ski instructor gave me a nasty glare, so I decided it was best to move on.
After a few more times down my ‘practice hill’, we started up the ski lift. Why don’t people explain things to you? Do I look like a woman that knows what she is doing? The ski lift has a safety bar that you are supposed to pull down so that you don’t fall off the lift. How are you supposed to know about this blessed safety feature if no one tells you? Jon and I traveled thousands of feet up the side of a mountain hanging hundreds of feet above the earth wearing slippery pants without the safety bar in place. I clung onto the side rail for dear life and tried not to lose my poles or blades. I even made a comment about how a safety bar would make the ride up the mountain way less stressful. The worst part was when the lift would stop and start to rock back and forth – it felt like we were a mere quick stop away from learning how to ‘heli-ski’ – I definitely didn’t want to learn that on my first real skiing adventure. The last time I ‘skied’ was when I was 14 years old with my youth group at Crystal Mountain. I stuck to the bunny hill and the rope tow. I eventually got up enough nerve to try a hill at the end of the day, but ended up using my skis like a sled and slid down the hill on my butt. Looking back, I realize that day can’t actually be classified as skiing. Everyone who I told this was my first day of skiing grimaced and shook their heads and told me that Kicking Horse is an expert mountain and wished me luck. Thanks. If there is one thing I am not, it’s an expert at skiing.
Once we managed not to slip off the lift and arrived at the top of the Catamount lift I had a small scale panic attack. I realized that I had to go down the hill on the boards I had happily strapped to my feet just an hour earlier. I desperately wanted Jon and I to have a happy couple experience, so I tried to smile and to ski across the hill. It took me about 15 minutes of skiing back and forth while trying to keep the panic down to make about 300 feet of progress. Jon, my husband from Saskatchewan (the flattest Province in Canada), patiently coached his stricken wife from Washington (a mountainous region in America) on the finer points of how to ski without sliding face first down the mountain. We continued our slow, very painful progress until we reached a part of the run that had a cliff off the left side and a rock wall on the right side with a steep incline. I started to slide quickly towards the cliff, so I desperately turned towards the rock face and went completely out of control – I bailed and went face first into the snow and nearly ran into the rock. Both of my ski blades flew off and I and started to shake uncontrollably from overwhelming fear and then broke down into hysterical sobbing. People we knew skied by and waved happily. Jon and I averted our faces.
My husband convinced me that it was best to keep skiing and that we couldn’t stay at that location indefinitely…no matter how warm my snow pants were. I think what really got me going was the snowboarders that kept jumping off the cliff above me and nearly landing on me. There was no safe place on the stupid mountain! After what felt like an eternity, we finally reached a point where we could see the lodge and only had a thousand or so feet to go. Earlier on the mountain I had thought this moment would be a happy one, but unfortunately for me it was a steep section of the mountain and there was nowhere to go but down. I completely lost it – tears of terror started to run down my face and I started to sob uncontrollably. I decided the best course of action was to take off my skis and slide down the last thousand feet on my butt right underneath the chair lift. After wrapping myself around one of the posts holding up the ski lift, I took off my skis and started to slide down the hill in my slippery pants. Skiers and snowboarders stopped to watch what the crazy, sobbing woman was doing. Fortunately, once again, Jon convinced me to put the skis back on for safety reasons. When I reached the bottom of the hill after 2 hours of painstaking work that would normally take about 30 minutes for an average skier, I just sat there and cried with relief. Jon just sat there bewildered.
We took a lunch break and worked on getting me to be able to breathe normally. Skiers are such friendly people! Normally I would have loved talking to the people that were there from all over the world. One woman asked how the skiing was and I couldn’t help it, I started to cry. She seemed to think that my boots were hurting my feet – I let her think that, it was less shameful than tell her that I was scared to death of the mountain. I decided it was best not to talk to anyone since I couldn't do it without crying. I just kept my eyes on the ground and tried to overcome my fear.
After another hour or so, I decided to try skiing down the mountain again. After all, I’m not a quitter! This time was better, I didn’t cry (even though I really wanted to) – but I still couldn’t stop without falling over. Once again, I guess I need the basics explained to me. Heck as if I know which ski is the downhill ski!! Apparently I had it mixed up and that was why I was unable to stop. If you put all your weight on the downhill ski – there is absolutely no way you can stop, you just keep sliding forward. How was I supposed to know which ski was the downhill ski? This sporting stuff just does not come naturally to me!!
I wanted Jon not to have a horrible ski experience with me, so I went up a third time – I even remembered to breathe and use the safety bar on the lift. We had an hour to get down the mountain. I thought that this was a reasonable amount of time since the previous time was done in less than 2 hours. Due to my mini panic attacks and falling over it took longer than expected and our departure time was looming. There was a distinct chance that we would miss our bus taking us the 15 kilometers down the mountain to our hotel. After such an epic day of skiing, the last thing I wanted to do was miss the bus ride to the hotel. We had to hurry – there was no choice but for me to go as fast as womanly possible down the steep part of the mountain. I nearly took out 3 small children and a snowboarder in my uncontrolled screaming descent down the hill. The screaming notified the more advanced skiers of my arrival and they promptly got out of the way. When I arrived at the bottom of the hill I enthusiastically ripped off my skis and happily gave them back to the rental shop. We caught the bus just as it was ready to leave. I sunk into my seat, glad that I hadn’t died during my first day of real skiing.
Let’s be honest, skiing just isn’t for me.
If these things happen to you, skiing may not the sport for you either:
- You break out into a cold sweat when you start to slide down a miniscule incline that isn’t even part of the actual mountain.
- You ask the ski lift operator at the bottom of the hill if you can take the lift back down if you are too afraid to ski down.
- When someone asks you how your day of skiing is going, you break down sobbing and are unable to form proper sentences.
- You skiing partner who is as inexperienced as you are starts to ski backwards, encouraging you to move towards him down the hill.
- It takes you 5 times longer than the average skier to get down the mountain.
- You find yourself sitting in a snow drift, praying for the end of the world to come so that you don’t have to finish going down the mountain.
- And finally, the day after skiing the sorest parts of your body are your hands from your death grip on the ski poles.