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Every time I ski, things go downhill.

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I have a confession to make: I hate skiing.  There. I said it. I’ve lived in Colorado for over 11 years, and I am not a skier. *gasp* Do people like me actually exist? Yes. Yes, we do.

Don’t get me wrong.  Sledding is fun!  Snowmobiling rocks!  I love the resorts!  There is so much to do at our wonderful ski resorts that doesn’t involve skiing. I’m just not a big fan of pain, and I never have been. In fact, I have yet to hurt myself at a lodge.

(No, the person in that photo is not me. This is a stock photo by Wia-Tirol.)

Even though I hate skiing, I love skiers! A lot of my friends ski. My husband is a skier. I hope my daughter to one day be a skier. I, on the other hand, am not a skier. In all fairness, what I do cannot be called skiing.

There is not that much screaming in skiing.

How can someone who loves the snow, doesn’t mind being cold, and actually lives at the foot of some of the best mountains around, not like skiing?

It all started when we moved here in January 1999. Our friends had told us about the super-deal they were running for this brand new thing called a “Buddy Pass” (the precursor to the Colorado Pass). Even if our big move to Colorado got postponed, the price of the pass was less than a ski trip to Colorado. Luckily, we did move to Colorado, so the deal was even better.

We got all our gear, and we all piled in the car. We had a plan: They would ski, and I would take a class. I’d never had anything longer than a flip-flop on my feet, and I didn’t want my lack of skill and experience to hold them back. What we hadn’t figured into our plan was the traffic on I-70. We sat on the parking lot of an Interstate, time clicking away. By the time we got to the resort, the morning classes were gone.

“Oh, that’s okay!” my friends said. “We’ll show you what to do!”

Against my better judgment, I listened to them. “As long as I have a flat place to practice before we get started, I’ll be okay.”

I rode with them up the Colorado Super-Chair. I somehow made it off the lift and was greeted by the top of a mountain. To this day, my husband claims that we weren’t at “the top” of the mountain. I disagree. When everywhere I look is down from where I am now, I’m at the top.

“Where’s the flat part to practice?” I asked with a building, frantic desperation. None of this was flat. I’d made a terrible mistake.

“Just ski over here,” they said. “Snowplow!”

“Where!?” I screamed, looking around, wondering why a snowplow would be all the way up here. That’s the last thing I thought I had to worry about.

“No, not A snowplow,” they said, making a wedge motion with their hands. “MAKE a Snowplow with your skis.”

They made it look so easy. My husband said he’d show me what to do. I decided to give it my best shot, and that’s when all the falling began. And so began the crying and yelling. There was crying, and yelling, and more crying and more yelling, and our friends went ahead and left us to our crying and yelling. (I’ll let you figure out which one of us was doing what.)

My husband learns how to do things in a totally different way than I do. I don’t respond well to yelling, and he doesn’t respond well to crying. This was going nowhere pretty quickly. Again, I’d made a terrible mistake.

After what seemed like an eternity, I realized we hadn’t even made it much farther than from where we began. I told him to go ahead. I was done. I clicked off my skis. I gathered my poles, and I trudged back up to the lift. It didn’t take much convincing for the lift operator to stop the lift and let me ride back down. The tears streaming down my face, were genuine. I’m not sure which hurt more: my knee, my hip, or my pride.

That has to be one of the most humiliating experiences of my life. Luckily, my ski goggles had completely fogged up from all the tears, so I couldn’t see the smug looks of those who actually knew what they were doing.

When I got back down, I realized there was an afternoon class starting in a few minutes. I gathered what pride I had left, and joined them. I was told this was a “Never Ever Class,” for people who had never ever skied. Did this fit everyone in the group?

I raised my hand. “Well, my friends just made me go to the top of the Colorado Super-Chair,” I sniffled. “Does that count?” I said, my voice cracking. I was holding back the tears.

“Oh no!” the instructor said. “Was there a significant other involved?”

“Yes,” I squeaked.

“Oh no! Did you get out before any permanent damage was done?” he asked.

“I think so,” I said with a sigh.

“Well, that’s good,” he said. “We always say, ‘Friends never let friends teach friends how to ski.’”

Honestly, I had a great time in the class, but I never could let go of the fear. My first experience on the mountain was burned into my psyche. Had I learned to ski when I was 4, rather than 24, maybe things would be different. As it was, I was ruined. The mere thought of going fast freaked me out. The lack of control threatened to crush me.

Because my husband found such joy in torturing me skiing, I tried really hard to like it. Honestly, I did. For three years, I tried really hard to like skiing. For a couple more years, I didn’t do so well at hiding my disdain for the sport. Eventually, I didn’t renew my pass.  My husband was devastated, but he got over it.  He got to go skiing with his buddies without having to deal with his basket-case of a wife, and I got to not be a basket-case.  It was a win-win situation.

In the years I skied, not once did I make it down a ski run without having a near-death (at least in my own head) experience.  I did, however, meet such nice people on the slopes. Usually, they were tiny little kids just learning to ski. “Ma’am? Is this your ski?” they’d say. “Is this your pole?”

“Yes,” I’d say from where I was lying flat on my back in the snow, my things strewn about me. “Yes, those are mine. Thanks.”

They’d give me back my items, smile, wave, and zip away chanting “Pizza! French fry! Pizza! French fry!” while I got myself into an upright position. Again. If there was one thing I was really good at, it was getting up.

You wanna know something else I’m really good at? Saving a spot for you at the lodge.

So, what about you? Do you ski? It’s okay to admit the truth.

Author: JoAnn

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  • comment avatar Gretchen White January 12, 2010

    I’ll sit with you in the lodge.

    The last time I careened down a mountain was on a snowboard. I fell backward, hard. I was taken down the mountain by ski patrol in one of their body bags on a sled. Wheeeee!

    Then I had my butt x-rayed at the hospital. My coccyx was displaced. I had to sit on a blow-up donut for 6 weeks. It stayed in that position until I gave birth years later.

  • comment avatar Clark Kent's Lunchbox January 12, 2010

    I make a better bolder-size snowball than a speedster on the slopes, but I make some mean hot chocolate!

  • comment avatar Laura January 12, 2010

    Yeah, I don’t ski either. I’ve lived in Colorado all my life, but until I moved to Denver after high school, I didn’t live remotely near a place TO ski. (Yep, there are places in Colorado where you can’t even SEE the mountains!) I think it’s harder when you don’t learn as a little kid. At my age, I can’t get my head around spending an entire day “learning” to ski, aka being wet and cold all day and hurting myself repeatedly. I would LOVE for my kids to learn, though!

  • comment avatar Laura January 12, 2010

    “My coccyx was displaced.”

    Isn’t that what happened to Napoleon Dynamite’s grandmother? Hee!

  • comment avatar Gwen January 12, 2010

    The first time my hubby took me skiing with another couple, it went a little something like this. Picture Mary Jane. Ya know, the mother of all black diamond ski resorts. Picture me getting out of the car, into my ski boots and immediate thrust onto a downhill nightmare of professionals swearing at me as they dodge my 5’10” frame strewn about the entire path. After nearly falling off a cliff into parked cards, I made it to the ticket booth. My experience technically hadn’t even begun! Husband and I went to the bunny hill. One tree. Plenty of open space to learn the ropes. I hit the lone tree every single run. I still swear there was a giant magnet on the tree that attracted my helpless skiing virgin self. Haven’t skied since and don’t plan on it ever again. But I tried. And that’s all that counts.

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson January 12, 2010


    Long live the slopes. 😉

  • comment avatar JoAnn January 12, 2010

    I’m so glad to hear I’m not alone! Lodge Bunnies unite! 🙂

  • comment avatar Lori in Denver January 12, 2010

    Lodge lady here. May I join the club?

    Harrowing, JoAnn, just harrowing.

  • comment avatar JoAnn January 12, 2010

    The more the merrier, Lori! 🙂

  • comment avatar JoAnn January 12, 2010

    Oh, and Gretchen: I, too, have been strapped to a backboard and hauled down the mountain behind a snowmobile. The ride was terrifying, but the medic crew was so nice. Without insurance, we’d STILL be paying for the subsequent ambulance ride down the hill to the ER.

    …and that was how my adventure in snowshoeing ended.

    One post is not sufficient in detailing the reasons behind my psychosis. 🙂

  • comment avatar Claudia Carbone January 12, 2010

    Give it another try in a women’s ski clinic, taught exclusively for women by women. Read how women benefit from these clinics and where you can find them on my blog I’ve been a ski journalist since 1984 and wrote the book WomenSki in 1994 – covering all aspects of women in alpine skiing.

  • comment avatar Empress January 12, 2010

    Thanks for the laugh! I was up at our local mountain today, took one run and then headed for the lodge and a nice, hot cup of tomato bisque. We desperately need snow here in the top of Utah – it’s getting quite dismal!

  • comment avatar JoAnn January 12, 2010

    Oh, Empress…Thanks for stopping by! I feel about skiing the way you feel about the wind. No, wait. Even I don’t dislike skiing *that* much. 😉

  • comment avatar Claudia Carbone January 12, 2010

    Correction: my blog is

  • comment avatar JoAnn January 12, 2010

    Claudia, thanks for your information! I agree, men and women definitely learn differently, and I could see the benefit of an all-women class. My issues aren’t with that, as all the male instructors I had (not counting my husband’s teachings) were awesome. My issues are fear-based, and I’ve made my peace with not skiing. 🙂

  • comment avatar Claudia Carbone January 12, 2010

    But fear is eliminated when you have confidence . . . in your ability, your equipment, your instructors and the terrain. I’m glad you are at peace, but you are missing one of the best reasons for living in this state!

  • comment avatar JoAnn January 12, 2010

    To quote Office Space, “I wouldn’t say I’m missing it!” 😉 Crisp blue skies, gorgeous mountain vistas, all from the nice warmth of our awesome lodges. It’s the best of both worlds! 🙂

  • comment avatar JoAnn November 25, 2013

    Claire is taking her first skiing lesson today! I’m excited for both of them, and not just because I get to stay home. (Okay, maybe a little.)

    I wrote this post years ago, and since I’ve traveled to a few island destinations. I gotta say, I’m a big fan of sand. Snow? Not so much anymore.

    Funny how that works.

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