Downhill skiing

The family of one of my closest friends had a house in the Catskills. That enabled many of us to start skiing when we hit our early 20s. Note that “many of us” did not include me, and that’s not because I was an unwelcome guest, nope, not at all; rather, for whatever reason, I could just not master the idea of pointing two slippery boards down an icy hill and expect to stay in control of them. As soon as I picked up any speed, I panicked, and crumbled to the ground. My friends, with the best of intentions, tried to help. I remember them painstakingly offering instruction, and me not grasping what they were saying. After one fall, I struggled to get the ski back on. The problem was that the ski was pointing downhill, so as soon as I applied pressure to attach the boot to the binding, the ski just wanted to slide away. The idea of an “uphill ski” and a “downhill ski” just didn’t sink in. We were on a mountain afterall, and everything looked downhill. I wasn’t alone, though, in my frustration/ineptness, as one of the guys in our group gave up quicker than I did. He actually took both skis off, slung them over his shoulder like a soldier with a rifle, and marched to the bottom of the mountain. I met him in the bar shortly thereafter.

I made a second attempt at skiing a year or so later, this time with my sister. She lives outside of Philly, so we went to the Poconos. She too could not get the basic concepts of skiing through to me. Again, there was that nonsensical talk of uphill and downhill skis, the encouragement to relax, and…the panic on my part whenever I reached 5 mph. That experiment didn’t work out too well either. As I recall, I gave up pretty quickly on this day too, leaving her to do a few runs by herself so that her day wasn’t a total waste.

So, for the next few years, my friends would go away skiing, getting better and better, and I was left out in the cold. Well, maybe not in the cold, but I sure wasn’t joining them on the slopes. I was adventurous enough during this time period, though, traveling a lot (visiting National Parks and things like that), and I was certainly a big fan of the outdoors. Skiing would have been a great way to enjoy the outdoors in the winter, but I would have none of it. Still, I knew I was missing out.

It was at this point that I decided that maybe I should think about cross-country skiing…


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