Ski Lessons

seen from diagonally behind the skier

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday I wrote about the bonding experience my family had during our hotel stay. The reason we were there was to spend the weekend skiing. [In an earlier post I talked about our plans for some fun winter activities.  see entry for 11/11/11]. We had chosen two smaller resorts, which would be less popular for people from our area, decreasing the likelihood of encountering anyone we knew. Teenagers seem to have a sensitive radar detector which makes them believe that everyone notices everything they do. Skiing turned out to be a way to take some risks and handle embarrassments calmly.

My son and I started out first. We had seasonal rentals and were able to get on the slopes while my daughter and husband were fitted for their gear. Right away we had our first mishap. As we boarded the chair lift, his ski popped off. The attendant stopped the lift and retrieved his ski. Unfortunately, he had to carry the ski during the ride and was destined to fall when he got off. He took it in stride and we set out. We had only taken the first descent when his ski detached again. We spent 5 minutes trying to get it back on, clearing snow out of the binding or trying to find flatter ground to stop on. All the while, he kept insisting that it was broken. I finally conceded he was right and we took our skis off, trudging up the steep hill back to the lift.
No attendants were available to help us. I began to get frustrated. What if we had an actual emergency? Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to come to such a small mountain if there wasn’t a safety patrol around. You can see where my mind was going… Finally a fellow skier noticed us and offered his assistance. He fiddled with the ski binding and then pointed out that my son’s boots had too much snow stuck to the sole. He helped clear them off and got the boot secured into the binding. I thanked him for his help and he kindly pointed out that there were easier trails we could ski from the other chairlift.
We got down to the bottom without further incident, but my son was in a bad mood. He felt humiliated that he needed to be helped by a stranger, who then must have thought he didn’t know how to ski. He became very grumpy and wanted to leave. Just then I spotted my husband and daughter heading toward the lower lift. We caught up to them and got in line. The kids decided to ride up together. I assume they shared stories about their experience so far. My husband and I observed them chatting and smiling from our chair behind them. By the time we got to the top, my son was in a much better mood and was eager to help his sister ski. He encouraged her to follow him, making sure to ski slowly, taking wide turns back and forth demonstrating good form and control.

Having her brother as a model was good for my daughter. She had been very nervous about downhill skiing. Even though she has good balance and used to ski steep, curvy trails on cross country skis she lacked the confidence to do the same in this new sport. Everyone was willing to accommodate her by starting on the green (easy) trails. We stopped often, offering words of encouragement and some tips to improve her skills. Within a few runs, she had switched from snow plowing to slalom style and was able to stop hockey style. At that point we tried to convince her that she would be able to ski the blue (intermediate) trails. Brother was eager to move on to harder terrain, but said he preferred skiing together rather than going off with me again. (I think he was still embarrassed to run into someone who had witnessed us on the other hill). For me, the important part was being together and having fun- as long as it wasn’t the “bunny” hill. We were able to do a blue trail for our last run of the day, leaving everyone happy and looking forward to another opportunity to ski on Monday.

On Monday, we drove to a different resort which had a quadruple chair. We spent the entire time skiing together. There was a very long green trail, which wound its way down from the summit. After a few times, Sister was feeling confident enough to take some blue trails. We praised her on how much she had improved. She actually seemed to be having fun! At one point, as I was winding my way downhill, she came flying past me. She appeared to have good form, but was going much faster than I would have expected. Seconds later she fell when she hit a mogul. She got up and brushed herself off quickly. I pointed out that it was actually a good sign that she had fallen because it meant she was getting more comfortable with herself and more willing to take some risks. Before I knew it, she was off again following her brother down the trail.

As I watched them ski together, I got all happy inside. This is what an ideal family winter activity should be. I couldn’t wish for anything more wonderful!

How to Keep the Fun in Winter- Family Style

With only  a week until Thanksgiving, it is time to admit that it will soon be winter here. I picked up downhill skis for my son and myself today. If you live in the Northeast, you better like winter sports. It is funny how our preferences change with age, though. And I’m not talking about old age…

When I was young, my parents taught me how to cross-country ski. We regularly broke trails on the historic battlefield that was open for winter recreation. My parents touted the benefits of aerobic exercise and appreciated the relatively safe terrain. As my sisters and I got older, the repetitive motion with little opportunity for speed bored us to tears- literally. My parents finally agreed to try downhill skiing. During the next several years, we spent long weekends or February break at rustic lodges in Vermont or New York. I have many fond memories of watching my ski go down the hill without me, or swinging in a chair that had been temporarily stuck and teasing my sister that we would have to jump down. Of course, there were also the near misses of the giant chair lift poles as I went flashing by, out of control down the steep, icy slope. Which is probably why, once I reached adulthood, I no longer desired to participate.

One of the first big gifts my boyfriend bought me, was a set of cross-country skis.  

We spent that winter exploring winding nordic trails that led us through thick woods. These sometimes ran along narrow ridges and descended in hairpin turns, in which case I would sit on my skis and slide down on my bottom.  My skills improved each time we returned. We picked our honeymoon destination because of its proximity to a ski area. When kids came into the equation, we carried them in backpacks or towed them along on a sled. Once they were old enough to ski on their own, we set them up with a rental program that would accommodate them as they grew.

Within a few years, they were skilled enough to take on the black diamond curves

and had the stamina to ski all the way across the lake.

Last year, they decided that the excitement of skiing down from the top of a long climb  

did not make up for the hard work of getting there. 

My husband and I could not convince them to cross-country with us. Instead we experimented at a local downhill resort. Surprisingly, the technique of slalom skiing came back to me and I quickly weaned myself off the bunny hill. My son was thrilled with the black diamonds and finally convinced me to try them out. I have learned how to be more cautious and stay in control, probably due to my cross-country training. I think it helped him pick up the sport easily,too.

So here I am, with two sets of season rentals in my car, looking at brochures for ski resorts in the area. I am sure my parents think this sounds like a deja vu. I am just looking forward to spending some fun times with my kids this winter. We do whatever it takes, right?

Downhill Skiing

Image by RenoTahoe via Flickr