It’s worth noting that the driveway proper, while plowed, was not kind to tiny cars, no matter if they are bigger on the inside. Poor CARDIS. She’s still reeling.
So. I got to the place (what do I call it? center? mountain? it’s really not, even though it is considered so in these parts. I don’t know) and, after inquiring whether they ever lose first time skiiers (“rarely”), paid for my lift ticket and rentals. Quite expensive, by the way. Ye gods.
On to the rental hut: the young guy noted my height, weight (ugh) and age (UGH) before handing me a pair of molded plastic boots with nary a strap or lace to be seen. I wedged my feet in, pronounced them to be fine but with a bit of wiggle room, then nearly threw out my shoulder as I wrenched them off. The young guy watched, looking as if he wanted to say something, then decided against it lest he embarrass the ridiculous woman who had no idea that there was a lever on the back of the boot that opened the whole thing up.
The older man off to the side, Mr. Fits the Boots to the Skis, witnessed the entire thing. He maneuvered me back into my now-opened boots, adjusted the snugness and then showed me how to get in and out of my skis. Twice. Then he asked me if I had any questions, upon which he showed me how to get in and out of my skis one more time.
At this point, I was too terrified of what was to come to be flustered by such a simple thing as an inability to navigate footwear. I thanked the rental staff and clomped back across the street. While setting my skis and poles against the rack, I looked up the hill. My stomach lurched. “Who the hell,” I wondered, “thought putting slippery planks on your feet and riding them full speed down a mountainside was a GOOD IDEA?”
Then my brother in law showed up. Now, he’s a dear man, funny and smart and a fantastic father to my undeniably awesome niece and nephews. But on this day, he said something that made my blood run cold. “Let’s just go up to the top.”
Uh... no. No. NO.
But the first ski lesson wasn’t for another hour and fifteen minutes. And my nephews had already been down several times. And Aunt Kelly was looking like a wimp. And my brother in law promised me he’d coach me every step of the way.
So I found myself on the chair lift with the very patient Bob. “So sorry,” I told him, “but you’re about to realize you have a panicky freak of a sister in law.” My heart was racing and all I could think was I don’t want to do this I know I said I would but I really really really really don’t want to do this not even a little holy crap I’m going to cry in front of my nephews. Then I heard Bob say, “Ready... stand!” And with that I was on my skis, sliding down from the chair lift and straight into a full stop.
From there, I shuffled and slid and poled across the flat bit to the Green Circle, aka: trail for the agéd and wimpy. Bob assured me that all I had to do was keep my skis in a wedge position and keep doing slow turns and I’d be fine. Which, if I had glute and thigh muscles of super heroic strength? Sure. Now I’m reasonably fit, but I have NOT worked these muscles in that way ever. I slid from one side of the trail to the other, hitting blistering speeds of nigh on seventeen feet per hour. Bob, coaching and encouraging me, was lazily skiing backwards. Without poles. Showoff. My legs were tense from keeping the skis in V-shape. My shoulders and arms were tense with panic. My abs were tense on account of trying not to hurl.
At last, the bottom of the hill was in sight. I inched toward the flat part and, at long last, came to a complete stop. “Ready to go back up?” Bob grinned.
Once more: no. No. NO.
“Think I need to rest before round two.” I popped the latch on the skis (okay, I stabbed at them repeatedly until I hit the sweet spot), set them in the rack and wobbled my way into the seating area where my sister in law was waiting.
This set the pattern for the day. I’d take a run, get the damned skis off and sit down until my legs were recovered enough to try again. In all, I only did four runs. On that last, my niece took over coaching duties. She’s been skiing since she was two; I’m not certain she was able to wrap her head around any one not being able to skim down a precipitous slope. Still, she did well by me, save for the bit where she said, “You can just ski straight down here.”
“Are you insane? YOU can ski straight down. I can watch you as I wedge my way across, lose all feeling in my left glute and thigh, experience utter lack of control, flail my arms while making ridiculous gurgling sounds and damn near wipe out.”
And then I did just that.
Speaking of falling, I was timid enough I only did so once, and it wasn’t so bad... until I tried to get up. The hell? How does one do that? I sort of twisted and pushed and wriggled and whinged and then I was upright once once more. Still not sure how it happened.
After four runs, my muscles had had it. I clomped back to the rental hut, thrust my snowy gear into their hands and made my shaky way back to my car, and home and hills I only had to drive upon.
So. Did I have fun? Kind of. I got a bit better on each run. Even as my strength waned, the tension I was carrying eased. Would I do it again? Yes. Hell yes, even. I liked bits of it - the view was very pretty, there were moments of gliding on the snow that were actually enjoyable and - in between the panic - relaxing, and I really like the notion of having a cold weather sport. Beth is also keen on having someone to ski with mid-week, and she’s a cautious skier. We’d be a decent match. Then there’s this: not being good at something makes me really, really cranky.
I am not good at skiing.
So, yes. I’ll go again. But I need to rent my gear for the rest of the season, and I need better snow clothes. And I need to gain enough skill so that next year, my youngest nephew doesn’t bid me good bye for the day with, “You did it, Aunt Kelly! But you were really slow.”
It’s good to have goals.