Nothing quite beats the humiliation of standing in a pack of 6-year-olds, waiting patiently to board the magic carpet. Their snotty upper lips and rosy cheeks swaddled in inches of fleece and wool and Gortex.
My road to being the oldest person in the group ski lesson at my local resort was long and arduous. I looked around, seething with envy—if these children went skiing, even just once a year, they would be proficient enough to call themselves, “skiers”. As a child growing up in Oklahoma, my exposure to skiing was limited to Disney Channel’s Original Movie, “Johnny Tsunami” and the N64 game, “Snowboard Kids”.
I had tried skiing as a teenager, only to immediately suffer a knee injury. While at college in the Pacific Northwest, I took to snowboarding in order to impress my, now gay, ex-boyfriend—so that worked out well. But since moving to New England I am determined to enjoy winter—after all it’s about 9 months out of the year. And so, here I am the only 25-year-old in sight, even my instructor hasn’t hit puberty.
I start with the inevitable pizza/French fry lesson in which I try, mildly successfully, to maneuver my skis from a wedge into a parallel. Although I wouldn’t be considered graceful by any stretch of the imagination, I at least had fine motor skills. More than I could say about Brandon—the 8-year-old punk that tried to cut me on the rope-tow. We all spent an hour practicing our new skills. The children looked to me for support—literally they could barely stand. And I looked to them for, well…nothing. Laughs? Yeah, I guess laughs. But as we reached the end of our lesson we were all deemed good enough to venture onto the chair lift.
Along the way we lost Kristen—a tiny, fearless girl covered in flowers and Frozen themed snow gear—to the warmth of the lodge, which offered hot chocolate, her parents, and the “potty”. After losing her, arguably the most talented student, it was clear that the instructor, a young woman who was not far from the age of Frozen obsession either, became generally disappointed in the group she was left with.
Miraculously, we all made it ONTO the chairlift without incident, but as we approached the end of our journey, I began to wonder if I would be that ridiculous person that has to ride the lift back down out of ineptitude and fear. As my anxiety reached a climax at the end of the lift, I scooted my ass off just in time to get whumped on the back by the bar of the chair, sending me hurtling down the tiny slope and towards a cluster of toddlers. Luckily I stopped just short and was able to, with only minor embarrassment, pick myself up and make my way toward the slope.
For the sake of time I’ll just say that my first run was…inelegant. I remembered the wise words of my instructor and just essentially “pizza-ed” all the way down, only falling a handful of times. By the second and third attempt I no longer fell off the lift, and no longer felt overwhelming terror when I would very briefly point my skis downhill in order to turn. On my fourth trip down the mountain I thought I’d try listening to music. I turned on my wireless headphones and aimed myself downhill. In my mind I looked like something out of a Warren Miller film, gracefully slicing through waves of pristine powder. What I actually looked like was an awkward 25-year-old noob slowly making her way down the bunny-slope, all while chanting the mantra, “Pizza, french-fries, pizza, french-fries”.
by Caroline Kellough