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Confessions of a non-skier in Colorado

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I have a confession to make: I hate skiing.  There. I said it. I’ve lived in Colorado for over 13 years, and I am not a skier. *gasp* Do people like me actually exist? Yes. Yes, we do.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the ski 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.

Even though I hate skiing, I love skiers! A lot of my friends ski. My husband is a skier. My daughter is 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.

Every time I ski, things go downhill. Literally.

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.

P.S. Don’t miss Colorado family travel: 10 winter ideas for non-skiers.

-JoAnn Rasmussen

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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