I’m a firm believer in the fact that your embarrassing stories will come out at some point, so you might as well tell them preemptively. In honor of that belief and the fact that I’m going to Colorado this afternoon on a trip that involves skiing, I’m going to tell you my best ski story.
We lived in Michigan when I was a little kid, so I learned to ski before I was 5. I like to think I was one of those kids who flies by you on the slopes and makes you feel bad about yourself as a grown person. I don’t remember that though, so it probably never happened (the flying by people part, not the skiing).
Then we moved to Louisiana and Texas, where there wasn’t anything in the way of snow happening. But eventually, my parents moved to Colorado and were surrounded by snow and snow sports. That happened in 2002, so I’ve had 9 years to get used to skiing again.
But this story, the great one, is from a long time before 2002. I think I was about 10 years old. We were just visiting the snow on a family vacation, and my parents decided to get us a family ski lesson on our first day out. It was a great plan, except for the fact that all four of us were at very different skill levels at the start of that first day.
My brother had the skill to do whatever he wanted, and I had just enough skill to get going fast, but not quite enough to make a controlled stop. So Dad (who was being polite and staying with his wife and the ski instructor even though he was perfectly capable of skiing down the slope on his own) and Mom (who was trying with every ounce of her strength not to fall over every five seconds) were near the top of the mountain. I was somewhere almost out of sight, and Douglas was long gone. I heard the instructor telling me to wait for them to catch up, and since I’m naturally inclined to listen to instructions, I wanted to do that. Only I couldn’t.
My 10-year-old brain came up with two possible solutions. I could either run off the groomed trail into the deep powder and trees, which would probably result in a bad fall and lots of pain. Or I could aim myself for the ski lift pole, which was padded and still on the trail.
I figured it would be easier to pick myself up off of the ground on the trail, so I aimed straight for the ski lift pole and hit it dead on.
I’m not sure why it didn’t hurt, but I don’t think it did. Mission accomplished. Then I looked up and remembered that hitting the ski lift pole meant that there was a ski lift above, and all of those people could see exactly what happened. Oops.
I was pretty embarrassed, but I think it’s better because I did it on purpose. I should have known how to stop, but whatever. It was a fun day, and I followed directions.
And that, my friends, is one of about twenty reasons that I retired from downhill skiing several years ago. I’m not terrible at it, just not good enough to really enjoy it. I think I’m going to try again this year though. Scott and a few of his friends will be skiing for three or four days, and surely I can muster the courage to join them for one day. By join them, I mean ski on the same mountain, not ski on the same slopes.
I have a feeling that black diamond slopes and I wouldn’t get along. I’ll keep you posted.