Back to downhill skiing

So, there I was in Maine, learning the disheartening news that my cross-country skiing would greatly benefit from a downhill lesson. This sucked. As I left Sugarloaf, though, I remembered tiny little Whaleback Mountain in New Hampshire, which I had passed numerous times in my travels through the region. It was easily accessible from the highway, and it was small enough that I didn’t think the terrain would be too terrifying, or a lift ticket too costly for what could be a very short and frustrating day.

I approached the good folks at the ski school desk and asked about a lesson. For an insanely low rate, I got the rental equipment, lift ticket, and lesson secured. I signed up and headed to the waiting area. A college-aged kid skied over to me and asked if I was there for the lesson. When I told him that I was, he explained that I was the only one in the class, so I was getting a private lesson for the cost of a group one. Shoot, score.

As for the fun business of the lesson, well, this kid was good. Before I put on the skis, he provided some good advice for finding balance (i.e., to recognize when I was leaning too far forward or back). After a "run" or two, I really started to feel comfortable. I don’t know if it was that I was older and more mature, that I was getting skilled instruction (which I highly recommend to anyone starting out, rather than listening to well-meaning friends), or that my cross-country efforts had me more comfortable on skis, or some combination of them, but I felt much better on this mountain than I did on the ones on which I had tried years earlier. He encouraged me to attempt an intermediate trail for our last run of the lesson. It went well enough. I don’t remember how I did on the lifts, or how many times I fell through the day, I just knew that I felt better about the downhill skis.

When I got back to the office, a co-worker buddy and I talked about this, and we decided to drive up to Stowe and take what would be a second lesson for each of us. Well, that lesson is worthy of a separate post at some point, but I simply note now that I received a few more pointers that greatly helped with the notion of making turns. Suddenly, the whole business of "uphill" and "downhill" skis made sense. I was so glad that I felt that I could ski, because I had a trip to Central Europe planned the following month, and I was not going to pass up the opportunity to ski the Alps...

Well, with 0 days of untutored skiing under my belt I had my day on the slopes in Davos, and it became clear quickly that I was in way over my head. I was on skis that were too long, and I was falling all over the place. The scenery, though, was amazing. I had taken two gondolas and a T-bar--I learned here that I was not a fan of T-bars!--to the top of the mountain. As I started working down, I became thrilled to learn of a very long, gently sloped cruising trail that led back to the village. It was just what I needed.

And with that, I found a winter pastime. My cross-country skis, though, started collecting dust...


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