I spent most of my childhood in a village nestled in a valley between two (smallish) mountains. Each of these mountains was home to a (smallish) ski resort. Despite the proximity of these places to experience skiing, I personally never availed myself of the opportunity. Skiing was always a bit beyond the budget, a fact that I recognized and accepted without question.
My first real chance to ski was as a newlywed. We were visiting with some friends in Vermont and the plan was to ski, with borrowed equipment, from the condo to the base of the hill where we would purchase our lift tickets and enjoy an afternoon of outdoor activity. Sounds fine, right? Skis over my shoulder, I joined the others for the walk through the parking lots of the condo complex. We arrived at the place where we were to snap into our skis and I looked down that hill, the whole time thinking about my lack of health insurance, and just knew it wasn’t happening for me. I happily went back to the condo and read the afternoon away, relieved to have avoided the certainty of a broken leg.
Years later, I had a one hour private ski lesson at Bousquet Mountain in the Berkshires. At that point I was a fairly accomplished cross-country skier and, other than the icy mound I had to face as I disembarked the chairlift, I was pretty comfortable negotiating my way down the hills after my lesson. Skiing was a fun activity, but not something for which I felt a burning excitement. I was content with the affordability of cross-country and I loved the fact that I could keep my equipment in my car and take advantage of the opportunity to ski at a moment’s notice. Winters began to feel much shorter.
Other than a winter triathlon that I participated in (“competed” in being too strong of a word), I didn’t ski again until this year and, I want to tell you, something has changed. Skiing suddenly seems like a lot of fun and I am very much looking forward to getting back on the slopes with the frequency allowed by my budget and calendar. Maybe it’s all the running I’ve been doing, but I find downhill skiing to be easier than cross-country. The ability to turn as I glide down hill, as opposed to skiing down the hills at Albany Muni on long skis without real edges, makes controlling my speed much more manageable. My legs are strong and although I expected to feel some residual soreness after my day at Belleayre, I didn’t have the slightest muscle tenderness to remind me of the fun I had enjoyed.
Speaking of enjoyment, Aloysius and I brought along our generation next boys and planted them in Kids Camp for the day. It was an investment ($100 + lunch), but we enjoyed knowing they were getting some quality instruction (2 to 1 ratio with the instructor) while we were exploring the mountain. We had a great view of their activities from the lodge, beers firmly in hand, and they seemed to be having a good time together. As far as the little guys enjoying the whole skiing thing, the jury is out on that. I can tell you they probably had more fun than their teacher who noted that although the boys might be the best of “vacation buddies,” they certainly weren’t the best “learning buddies.” What can I say – they’re lively boys. They’ve got years ahead of them to learn to love to ski. Trust me.