Skiing a Slippery Slope
It’s the time of year when talented skiers hit the slopes. Occasionally, I’m out there too
The first time I went skiing I was twelve. As someone who considers winter hobbies to be things like “drinking hot chocolate” or “sitting by fires,” I’d never had much interest in the sport. But despite my protests to the contrary, my family thought I might enjoy strapping pieces of metal to my feet and sliding rapidly down the side of a mountain in below-freezing temperatures.
My initial experience was not good. My little brother, an experienced skier, saw an opportunity for payback for all my years of torturing him and left me at the top of a mountain in a blizzard. As I stared down the steep slope in front of me, I wondered if it would come across as too dramatic if I yelled, “Farewell, cruel world,” before throwing myself down the hill.
The only thing that got me down the mountain that day without the use of a helicopter was the knowledge that I was going to pummel my brother into the snow at the bottom—and that I would never ski again.
I stuck to my antiskiing vow for almost a decade. Ultimately, it was sibling rivalry again that prompted me back onto the slopes. My dad kept taking my brother on ski trips without me—and while I still had no interest in wearing puffy, unflattering attire and defying death on icy mountainsides, I did have an interest in visiting places like Utah.
My first day back in skis was spent almost entirely on the bunny slope yelling for small children to get out of my way as I hurtled down the mountain. It’s never too early for kids to learn that if a grown woman is screaming expletives and speeding toward them with her arms flailing, it’s best to move. Quickly.
Eventually, I made it off the bunny slope. Not necessarily because I was willing to leave, but because after trampling a certain number of children, you start to get dirty looks from parents. My brother, feeling guilty for traumatizing me years before, offered to take me up for my first run. However, we were quickly separated after leaving the lift when I tripped on my ski, was almost hit by the revolving chairs, and fell face first into a large snowdrift, where I was unable to right myself.
After the entire lift had to be momentarily shut down and seemingly half the mountain’s staff had to come to hoist me out, I looked around for my brother. Apparently, while his remorse for my trauma was strong, it had been overpowered by his embarrassment due to my complete inability to ski like a normal person. He was already just a smoothly moving dot in the distance down the mountain.
After years of practice—and countless crashes, falls, and uses of language generally reserved for gangsters and actors in R-rated films—I’m finally able to ski with some ease. A few years ago I even skied my first black diamond. (It counts as skiing if you sit down and slide to the bottom, right?) Unfortunately, I didn’t get much skiing in the rest of the day because I was too busy telling anyone who would listen about my accomplishment.
These days, a Saturday trip up to Sugar or Beech mountain sounds like a fun way to spend a winter day rather than a death wish. And while no one is nominating me for the next Olympic team, I can now claim snow skiing as one of my favorite winter hobbies. Of course, it still falls behind hot chocolate and firesides.