I hit the slopes. They didn’t hit back.

I won’t write 8,700 words about my weekend ski trip, but I’ll give this summary.

I loved every minute of Saturday, including falling down less than 15 feet into my first slope of the day. That was down Candy Cane, but I overlooked that. “Encouraged” by Danielle, my brother, and my brother’s girlfriend, I skied a blue square slope. That was a wonderful adventure, even though I fell on my second trip down Hemlock Branch thanks to an accumulation of ice. I ended the day with a great run down Twinkle, through the Lower Shuttle, and onto Mistletoe.

Loads of fun and no broken bones. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Skiing (Part Five) – Poor Man’s Test

As we approached Twinkle, I was excited. It was five o’clock, giving the mountain a twilight darkness, illuminated by halogen lamps lining the slopes. With a plan for finishing, I intended to focus and enjoy the final runs of the afternoon. The slope cleared, so we headed down the mountain.

Danielle skied to the center of Twinkle. I’d moved past my need to hug the slope’s edge, so I followed her to the middle. I’d started to think ahead, so I began planning my entry into the Lower Shuttle. Coming from the middle, I’d have enough speed to make it up the incline, but I wanted to zip through it.

We moved down the hills of Twinkle, turning left and right. Approaching the last hill before the shuttle, we positioned ourselves for the sharp left turn. Over the hill, I crouched into a balanced stance, then pushed hard on my right ski. My body turned left at once. Still trailing Danielle, I zipped into the Lower Shuttle.

Once in, we encountered a kid skiing through ahead of us. We shaved off some speed to avoid wiping him out, then skied next to him. Danielle complimented the kid on his skiing, which earned her a shy response. I anticipated the incline, realizing that I wouldn’t have enough speed to hit the top. I glided until I stopped, then trudged my way over to Danielle.

We chatted as we worked our way to the top, then continued with the short trip to Mistletoe. Once at the opening to Mistletoe, I paused to once more adjust my gear against the falling snow. Danielle skied ahead.

Standing by myself, I watched other ski by me. I scanned the bottom of the slope, noticed Danielle had moved to the chair lift, and prepared to join her. I set off for the bottom.

I skied left. I skied right. I skied left. I skied right. My left ski stuck in the snow.

I tried to recover control of my left leg, but couldn’t save it. I slammed into the snow, twisting to my left as I went down. I tucked my arms close to my body as I fell, driving my right shoulder into the slope. My head bumped the snow. I slid down the mountain, coming to a stop after a few feet.

I rested in the snow, laughing at my ineptitude. I sat up and looked around to assess the damage. I had control of my arms and legs. I knew where I was. I knew who I was. Everything was fine.

Verifying how well the skis were hinged to my boots earlier in the day, I questioned whether or not the ski would separate from the boot in a fall. I proved that it would. A man walked up to me, bringing my ski, as well as my poles. I thanked him and scanned the slope to determine how many people were behind me. I needed to move out of the way, but standing up with two skis was hard. Standing with one would be troublesome, at best.

I used one of the poles to unlock the other ski from my boot. I needed to get down from the slope. Once it was loose, I gathered my skis and poles in my arms and stalked down the slope. I wasn’t angry, but I wasn’t going to try to reassemble myself on a hill with others streaking past me.

At the bottom, Danielle saw me walking down the hill. I motioned to her to join me as I continued walking towards the lodge. Even though I wanted to continue skiing, I knew I should stop. That was the best decision I made all day. Give me that much credit.

I explained to Danielle what happened to me as we continued on to the lodge to return our equipment. Once in the lodge, we undertook the arduous task of removing our boots. Sitting on the bench, I realized how sore I was from being out-of-shape. No muscle group was screaming in pain, but a general ache had gripped my body. And we needed to munch some fine Indian cuisine.

We drove back to Danielle’s house, changed into dry clothes, and proceeded to India Gate. We nearly slept at the table while waiting for our food. We ate copious amounts of fine Indian food, though we missed the ambience of squinting, long-haired guitarists we’d experienced in the past. We drove back to Danielle’s house. We watched a little Canadian tv and fell asleep.

The next morning, I awoke and fell the same dull ache all over my body. Even though general soreness isn’t fun, it felt good to have exercised and moved around.

We enjoyed a lazy Sunday, floating around the house, eating some leftover Indian food, and looking at scrapbook pictures. In the middle of the afternoon, Danielle drove me to the airport. I caught my flight home and went to bed early again.

On Monday morning, I woke up a little more sore than I’d been the day before. This is common, so I thought nothing of it. I went to work, moved around as little as possible during the day, then came home. Once home, I watched some tv, talked to Danielle on the phone, and went to bed.

When I awoke on Tuesday morning, the right side of my chest hurt worse than almost any pain I’d ever felt. I couldn’t turn my torso. I couldn’t sit up without pain. I decided not to go to work.

Around 10am, I called my Mom to chat. When she asked how skiing had gone, I told her I’d had a good time, but I was sore and couldn’t go to work. Being a mom, she told me to go to my doctor.

I’m a man, so I didn’t need to go to a doctor. However, I researched chest pain on the web and discovered some potential negative side-effects to injured ribs, mainly pneumonia. I called my doctor and made an appointment.

At my appointment, I explained what happened. My doctor listened to my chest and said everything sounded fine. Then he placed a hand on my chest and a hand on my back, then squeezed. My chest lit up with pain.

He told me I’d probably broken a rib or two, because the “poor man’s test” suggested it. When squeezing my chest like that, it would only hurt if I’d broken something. He offered to refer me for an x-ray. I declined since it was a $75 confirmation that wouldn’t change the treatment.

I hope I never break another rib in my lifetime. The pain is awful and constant. I couldn’t sleep on my stomach for several weeks. The pain woke me up in the middle of the night. I got no more than 2 hours of consecutive sleep for the next 2 weeks. My ribs didn’t stop interrupting my sleep until late last week, 5 weeks after the fall.

I can’t wait to ski again.

P.S. I’m skiing at Kissing Bridge tomorrow.

Unlike chocolate and peanut butter…

Yesterday afternoon, I put my shoes on just before I left to buy ski pants. This shouldn’t be a hard decision but you already know I’ve become a shoe whore for Chucks. With so many to choose from, I try to rotate which colors I wear so that no pair feels lonely for too long.

Realizing that I hadn’t worn the blue Chucks in a few weeks, I went with those. Everything is fine up until this point. I gathered some cds to take with me, my book in case I got lunch while I was out, and my fleece since it was a balmy 50 degrees yesterday. I put on the fleece and walked to my car. I got in my car, put the key in the ignition, and started the car. Then all mental hell broke loose.

Looking around the floor, I had a direct line from fleece to shoes. I had no idea how I’d let this happen, but I was wearing blue Chucks and an orange fleece. Unacceptable.

Orange and blue do not go together. It’s completely preposterous. No sane person would wear those colors together.

I had a brief but contested mental battle with myself. Yes, it was an abomination, but I would survive. The car was started and I was ready to leave. I decided to let it go. Just because I wore those colors once, no one was coming to revoke my Hokie status. Unless, maybe they were.

I turned the car off and went back into my house. Looking in the closet, I exchanged the orange fleece for the blue fleece. I went back to my car and drove off in peace.

In summary:

+ is Pure evil


+ is Acceptable


+ is Perfection

Skiing (Part Four) – Is this green?

Getting in line, I relaxed slightly, but couldn’t feel joyous about my accomplishment. I’d skied down, but with many false starts and spills. I had to do it again, but I knew my second trip would be like my first. Cold, wet, and painful.

The line for the South chair lift wasn’t crowded, so we headed up the mountain without a wait. Still learning how to walk in skis, I scooted to the starting line, just ahead of our chair. Trying to let the chair catch me from underneath, I anticipated its arrival. I misjudged and got smacked in the leg. It knocked me backward, slamming my butt into the seat.

Generally, they did an excellent job of sweeping snow from the chair, but that doesn’t make it warmer. The temperature was mild, but the metal bars of the chair held the cold. Because I’d skied slowly down the slope, I hadn’t built up a good workout sweat. I shivered, from the cold and the anticipation of having to ski down the slope again.

Danielle encouraged me and worked to focus me on my success and improvement, but I dreaded the experience, so I answered with “yeah, but”. For every incident of me doing something well, however monumental (tiny monumental, but still monumental), I’d point out a little kid skiing with ease down the slope beneath us.

As we continued the journey up, it reminded me of how long the slope was. It’d taken us a few minutes to ride up the first slope, and much longer to ski down as a result of my stalling.

As we reached the top of the mountain, I tried to anticipate how the next journey would turn out. Fortunately, the incline down from the chair to the top of the slope was smaller than the first ride, so I managed this exit without a dismount. Danielle skied ahead to the map while I adjusted my gloves and hat. Hoping to map the quickest route to the parking lot, I joined her for the planning session.

As I looked at the map, I felt bad for her that she was only going to get 2 trips down the slopes and she’s an excellent skier. I suggested that, once we reached the bottom, I’d hang out in the lodge while she skied a few more times. She agreed that we could do that, if I wanted. She reminded me that I was doing well for my first time. Uh, huh.

Looking at the map now, notice that the top of the South Chair lift is the highest peak depicted on the mountain. Forget Everest. I’d reached the top of the world and I had to descend at once if I intended to live another day.

Based on this new plan to make this my last run, we decided to bypass Snow Ball and ski Twinkle, diverting at the Lower Shuttle to end up at the lodge. Scary, but I (incorrectly) figured that half of the journey was sideways across the mountain, so I could manage it. I took a deep breath and we departed.

The path from the map to Twinkle had a slight incline, but it wasn’t steep. Gravity took hold and I accelerated at a manageable pace. Intending to slow down, I scanned around me and noticed traffic. Any drastic panic now would ripple through behind me. I focused on the path instead.

Being in the middle of the lane, I wanted to avoid blocking everyone when I fell, so I edged to the right side of the trail. Once I’d reached the edge, I realized what I’d done. I’d adjusted my skis to turn right, while moving. Amazed, I edged my way to the left. I only moved a few feet to the left, but I moved where I’d intended to move. What was happening?

Instead of sliding quickly down the mountain, I was skiing. I was moving faster, but under control and in my direction of choice. Before I let my mind interfere again, I focused forward and picked up a little more speed. I didn’t want anything dangerous, but I knew I’d unlocked the fear so that it could fade away with continued focus and effort.

Danielle reached the clearing at the top of Twinkle ahead of me, so she’d stopped to check on my progress. She saw me skiing toward her, under control and on pace with everyone around me. Surprised, she smiled, then faced the slope and skied towards the Lower Shuttle. I followed.

I didn’t have enough confidence to ski straight through the turn onto the Lower Shuttle that I knew was coming, so I stopped after I passed Twinkle’s first hill. There was a hill to surmount before the Lower Shuttle, but I wasn’t afraid of it. I wanted to gather my thoughts, focus on the task, and plot my entry into the narrow path that constituted the first half of the Lower Shuttle.

Danielle waited. She was too far away for us to talk, but I could see how excited she was that I’d let go and skied. I gave the thumbs up, followed by a wave to indicate that I needed a second.

I needed to plot my path from the right side of the slope to the left, where I’d connect with the Lower Shuttle. Since left turns were my only strength in the beginning, this didn’t concern me. I looked over my left shoulder to determine the number of people behind.

On the slopes, the person in front of you has the right of way. I knew I’d need that, but sudden moves causing fellow skiers to careen out of control didn’t seem wise. I only needed a short opening because I’d pick up speed this time, but there were a couple of people near me. While I waited, I decided to ski at an angle to the left to cover some distance, ski down the hill to gain speed, then ski left into the Lower Shuttle. I’d use this speed to get as far as I could before I’d have to walk the shuttle. I signaled to Danielle as the traffic behind me cleared. We departed for the hill.

I followed my plan exactly. I’d maneuvered left to the middle of the slope when I reached the hill. I went down, picking up speed as intended. As I neared the bottom of the hill, I turned left and zipped into the Lower Shuttle.

Before I could get overjoyed at the accomplishment, I had to navigate the narrow path. It was ominously lined with orange latticed tape. I’d seen enough competitive skiing on television to know that patches of orange latticed tape, while a warning, also has magnetic powers to attract skis. I used my motorcycle training to “look where I wanted to go”. It worked. Into the turn at a reasonable rate of speed, I turned toward the middle of the shuttle. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that the shuttle has a slight incline, so I didn’t have sufficient speed to reach the top.

Danielle didn’t know that either, so I noticed her in front of me trudging her way up the incline. I caught up with her.

“I can’t believe it. I did it!”

She smiled back at me. “I knew you could. How do you like it now?”

“I don’t know how I did it. I was following you, then I realized that I was skiing, so I kept going.”

“You’re doing a great job.”

We reached the top of the incline. Thunder Run opened onto the Lower Shuttle, so I asked “Which way are we going?” That’s a stupid question, but I was so scared at the top of the slope that I didn’t focus on other slopes. Danielle pointed to the right, where I saw the shuttle open onto the end of Mistletoe, where we’d begun our introductory lesson only a few hours earlier.

We skied towards the end, Danielle next to me until we reached the opening. As we neared I told Danielle to go ahead. The end of Mistletoe would be the steepest incline I’d encountered, so I wanted to make sure no one was near me as I skied down. I stopped and looked around. I let the fear creep back, but quickly squashed that. I took a deep breath, decided to go, and took off.

I swooped back and forth, making exaggerated turns to slow myself down. Once I neared the end, I straightened up and skied to the end. I made an intentional hard stop, turning left and spraying snow to my right s I turned. I raised my hands in triumph. I looked around for Danielle.

Waiting at the chair lift, she smiled. I ventured in her direction, remember
ing the steep journey to the chair lift. As I neared her, she asked “do you want to leave now?”

“We have to do that again. Right now.”

I couldn’t believe it. I’d made it down the slope faster than it took us to go up the chair lift and it wasn’t me tumbling wildly out of control. I loved skiing more than anything in the world at that moment. By accident, I let the joy open for me. I couldn’t wait to do it again.

I chatted like a little kid while Danielle smiled and reaffirmed how well I’d done. The lift came and carried us up the slope again. As we rode up the slope, snow began to fall. A snow mobile rode up the slope below us. That Guy rode past us down the chair lift.

Looking around while we chatted, the mountain no longer looked intimidating. I watched little kids jetting around other skiers and snowboarders racing down the hill. I understood why they did it instead of being perplexed by it.

I noticed the snowboarder in front of us didn’t have his safety bar pulled down. “That guy is balls-to-the-wall,” I said.

“Did you just say balls-to-the-wall?”

“I did because that guy is crazy and doesn’t have the safety bar down.” I pointed. She laughed and agreed.

We reached the top of the lift. I prepared for the exit, pointing my skis perpendicular to the ground. My skis settled onto the ramp. I stood up. Learning from my last experience, I leaned forward. I zoomed down the ramp and away from the lift. Cleared from the lift, I was still standing. Outstanding.

We skied to the South Shuttle. Again, learning from my last experience, I picked skied down the first hill, picking up speed instead of slowing myself down. After running out of momentum again, we walked scooted to the opening for Twinkle. Without pause, we headed down.

Skiing down the slope, turning left and right to slow myself when necessary, I approached the Lower Shuttle within seconds. This trip, I had enough speed to maintain my momentum. Once again, I noticed the orange latticed tape, then shifted my sight to where I wanted to go.

Racing through the shuttle, I looked at Danielle and said “Is this green?”

Laughing, she said no. I’m glad I didn’t know that before because I would’ve been nervous. With my ignorance, I’d skied the harder part of a Blue Square shuttle on my second and third trips down a slope.

We continued through the shuttle, me following behind Danielle. I didn’t pause at Mistletoe, choosing to ski it while I had momentum. When we reached the bottom, there was no question we’d be skiing again. We headed to the chair lift.

We got in line and caught the chair lift almost immediately. For a beautiful January day, the crowd was perfect. I don’t have any comparison, but the weather was wonderful, so I’d assume it would pull more skiers. No complaints.

On the lift, we continued chatting. Danielle almost dropped her poles. I almost dropped my gloves. Snow accumulated on our clothes. The snow mobile passed under us again.

At the top, we followed the same path to Twinkle. When we reached the entrance to Thunder Run, Danielle decided that she wanted to ski a Blue Square. I told her I’d be fine and I’d meet her on the Lower Shuttle. She headed down as I worked my way to Twinkle.

Once at Twinkle, I took off immediately, despite some apprehension that if I wiped out, I’d have no familiar face to rescue me. I didn’t need to worry.

I entered the South Shuttle at my fastest speed yet, focusing on making a tighter turn to the inside once I’d reached it. This worked perfectly, except for one thing.

When I reached Danielle, who was waiting for me, I said “I can’t see a shittin’, fuckin’ thing.” She started laughing.

“Seriously, the falling snow is in my face. I’m skiing with my eyes nearly closed. But I don’t trust the goggles.”

“Are you going to be ok,” she asked.

“I’ll be fine. I just need to get real goggles for next time.”

We continued through the Lower Shuttle and headed towards the bottom of Mistletoe.

I let Danielle go ahead while I adjusted my hat and scarf against the snow. I didn’t want to get snow in my face as I tackled the steep bottom of Mistletoe. After checking the traffic, I journeyed down the slope. Danielle was waiting in at the chair lift with her camera. Here’s the video she took:

Video: This isn't green!

We got on the chair lift again. While journeying up the mountain, we chatted about my readiness for a Blue Square. I knew I wouldn’t ski one that day, but it was an interesting turn from being frustrated by the sport earlier in the day. As we rode up, the snow mobile passed us again on its way up the mountain.

At the top, we noticed the beauty of the trees as the lights came on and snow continued to fall. Since we were taking a moment to enjoy the experience, I knew it was the right time to bring up an important topic.

“We should decide now how many more trips down the mountain we’re going to take. We’re too excited at the bottom to say no and it’s getting colder. I also need to munch.”

“That’s a good idea. How many more trips do you think?”

“We should just make this the last one.”

“I agree, two more trips is perfect.”


“Yes, three more and then we’re done.”

“Ok, we’ll take two more, then see how we feel. Agreed?”


We skied over to Twinkle.

Part five (the ending) still to come…

I’ll need estrogen to understand

I spent 15 minutes discussing shoes with a woman in my office. She now has 90 pair of shoes, after throwing 20 away when she moved. I’m amazed that anyone could own that many shoes. As you’ll remember, I did admit to becoming a shoe whore for Chucks, but I know I haven’t owned 90 pair of shoes in my lifetime.

However, since I’ve learned from the master, I knew to ask the correct question. “Have you ever bought shoes that weren’t the right size because you needed that specific model?” My co-worker started laughing hysterically, then nodded that she had. Chalk one up for straight men.

No one was planning to watch

The NFL has lost its mind. They axed JC Chasez from performing at the Pro Bowl halftime show because he might, maybe, could, sorta, possibly do something they don’t like. This is a great pre-emptive strike to protect the hearts and minds of the nation’s fragile citizens.

I understand that JC Chasez’s current single is Some Girls (Dance With Women). I didn’t know that before reading the article, but stick with me, I’m making a point. I’ve even seen him perform in person, so I know what kind of entertainment he can offer. See for yourself.

All of that should raise sufficient suspicion about his planned Pro Bowl halftime show. However, I suspect he’s smart enough to know that a repeat of the Super Bowl halftime show would be unwise. That makes this next statement nothing but action for the sake of action.

“The commissioner said Monday morning that we will change our policies and procedures as it relates to entertainment during our games,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said. “This is immediate action that reflects that approach.”

Chasez responded through his record company with this statement:

“No one could be more disappointed than I that the NFL has canceled my halftime performance at the Pro Bowl this coming Sunday,” Chasez said. “I’ve told the NFL I understand the pressure that they are under since the Super Bowl.”

He should’ve told them to kiss his ass.

Even though he was cordial, he’s still going to have the last laugh. Anyone (me) who thinks the Super Bowl halftime show is a crapfest, wait until we see the sanitized Pro Bowl halftime show. My heart is fluttering at the thought of “200 hula dancers, 1,000 other dancers, drummers and a new song called Welcome to my Paradise“. That is the result of moral, indignant grandstanding.

If the NFL allows JC Chasez to attend the Super Bowl, at least he’ll be on hand to dry Paul Tagliabue’s tears when the Pro Bowl ratings come out. Maybe JC will offer his Burberry scarf for the task.

Skiing (Part Three) – How am I supposed to live through this?

Walking past the line for the Candy Cane J-Bar, I was nervous. I felt my training was incomplete, but could do nothing to stop it. Sure, I could’ve protested, but then the mockery would’ve started. I can handle death easier.

The chair lift entrance for Holly resides less than 30 yards from the bottom of Candy Cane, but it’s on a slight incline. We pulled ourselves up the incline by digging our poles into the snow and shuffling our skis forward. “I didn’t know there’d be cross-country skiing,” I said to Danielle. She reassured me that I would do well, but I feared the misadventure ahead.

Standing in line, I focused on the chair lifts swinging around for the journey up the mountain. We had a few moments, but the time was coming. I’d been scared on Candy Cane. I began to fathom the panic that would course through my mind at the summit of Snow Ball.

I observed the chair swinging around to pick up each pair or skiers. Once it cleared the entrance, the next pair started forward to the loading spot. Our turn to trek our way to the chair arrived. Believing myself on the verge of getting clipped, I followed Danielle into the path of the oncoming chair. With Danielle standing to my left, the chair reached us and gently buckled us onto the cold cushions. I had no way out.

Looking around at the mountain below, a heavy metal bar attacked me. Scared, I looked over at Danielle, only to find that she was lowering the safety bar to prevent us from falling out. “Oooooooooh. That’s a good idea,” I thought. As we continued our ascent upward, I noticed all the happy people skiing down the slope. Seeing the young kids gliding over the snow, I believed it might be possible to survive this. I might even figure out how to ski.

The chair lift was longer than I had expected. I enjoyed the respite from the inevitable until I remembered that the length of mountain up and down were the same. I knew that when I turned my skis down the slope, the journey down would be as fast as the journey up was slow.

Trying to focus me, Danielle explained the process of stepping off the chair lift at the end. “Stick your legs, parallel to the ground. You want your skis pointing down. If you don’t, you won’t be able to get off, but your skis will come off. You will ride down to the bottom without your skis, the only person riding down. You don’t want to be that guy.” No, I didn’t.

We neared the end, so Danielle raised the safety bar over our heads. I did as instructed and stuck my skis out, perpendicular to the ground. At that moment, I understood something I hadn’t before. Skis and ski boots are heavy. If I moved wrong before the platform, I was going down fast. I paid attention to the task and didn’t move until we reached the platform.

I expected someone to greet us and help us out. They assume that we’re all experts at this, so we don’t need help. What kind of moron would ride to the top of a mountain that he didn’t know how to ski down? I noticed the people in front of us put their skis on the platform, stand up, and ski away as the chair lift let them off and turned away. Now that I knew how to do it, it was time to do it.

I put my skis onto the snowy wood as the chair leaned us forward. I stood up and looked ahead to where I had to go. I positioned my poles beside me for balance. The chair turned away as I came to the edge of the ramp. My mind froze.

“There’s not supposed to be a ramp here.”

“I fell down while walking; I can’t ski a ramp.”

“This is wrong.”

“They shouldn’t have done this to me.”

All of these thoughts were valid at the time, but little help. Gravity refused to wait for my mind to catch up. Thus, instead of skiing gracefully from the chair lift to a stop by the map, I did an awkward dismount and fell on my ass. I’m confident that I scored a 2.8 from the Lithuanian judge.

I laughed at myself and put my head on the snow. Danielle looked back at the tangle of legs and skis and poles. She laughed as she skied over to help me up. Even though I was motionless at the bottom of the ramp, it was still an active runway. I’m confident that the snowboarder who fell behind me fell only because I was in the way. She dragged me to my feet. While I gathered myself, brushing snow off and shaking my clothes into place, Danielle moved over to look at the map. We were at the convergence of Holly, Mistletoe, and the South Shuttle.

Here’s the map I showed in part one:

I hadn’t looked at this before we reached the summit. Any fool can see that the only way to Snow Ball from the Central slope is to ski down Twinkle and ride the South chair lift to the top. Ignoring that, it was so far away. This was a giant mistake. Didn’t Danielle know that she’d have a long, hard journey dragging my mangled corpse back to the First Aid station after I tumbled down Snow Ball like a snowball?

Her plan was simple, so I followed her to the South Shuttle. Sadly, I learned that this wasn’t a shuttle, but a path I had to ski. I hate misnomers. A few yards past the map, we approached a hill. It wasn’t large, but I could tell that I would pick up speed. I was concerned.

I still hadn’t dealt with anything in a “straight-ahead, actually ski the slope” manner. I determined that I’d survive it, but I wasn’t ready to pick up too much speed. I skied it the same way I’d skied the bunny hill; knees in, feet out, brain furiously engaged. Following along the right edge, I made it down.

There should’ve been a sign that indicated the speed generated by the little slope was useful. I didn’t have enough to continue up the slight incline that followed. A lesson learned the hard way, but duly noted.

Since I’d stopped from lack of inertia, I figured I’d give the goggles a try. Since I’d never been skiing, I borrowed my brother’s ski gloves and goggles. The gloves were perfect. Even after nearly three hours on the slopes (and several spills), my hands were still dry and warm. Then I put the goggles on.

They immediately fogged up. I couldn’t believe it. I prayed that I could wipe them clean so they’d stay clear. This didn’t work. Inspecting them, I found two holes on each side for venting. Eureka! Like my motorcycle helmet, they would unfog once I started moving and air flowed through them.

In theory that should’ve worked. Alas, it didn’t. As I moved forward, they stayed covered, so I was blind while wearing them. I stopped again, which wasn’t hard given the incline-induced lack of momentum. At this point, I began cursing my brother’s name. At the time, I joked at how rude that was since he’d loaned me the excellent gloves.

Then I returned home and discussed it with him, which went like this:

Me: “Thanks for lending me your gloves. The goggles sucked.”
Brother (while I type about them being fogged up): “They fogged up, didn’t they?”
Me: “Thanks, you could’ve told me that BEFORE I was stranded on top of the mountain without sufficient eyewear.”
Brother: “HAHAHAHAHA!”

On the mountain, I figured I’d be ok without them. The air was clear of snow and wind. The sky was cloudy, so the snow wasn’t reflecting sun. No need to worry.

I put the goggles back in my pocket. Seeing the narrow, tree-lined Black Diamond trails made me realize how much I had to learn. Even though I knew my limits, I’d secretly hoped we’d ski the K-12 before the day was over, but it wasn’t meant to be.

After more trudging along the incline of the South Shuttle, we reached the exit onto Twinkle. I stopped to readjust my gloves and scarf. And to delay the inevitable. While I had a moment to look, I noticed something bad. I couldn’t see the bottom of Twinkle. Christopher Columbus was wrong. This planet is flat and the edge is in Glenwood, New York.

I knew I couldn’t avoid skiing Twinkle, but I wanted to make it as painless as possible. Even though the slope had light traffic, I feared skiing in the middle. I knew I’d fall down, then get run over by someone with enough skill to go fast, but not enough to turn.

Now for the melodrama…
After a short time that must have seemed like an eternity to Danielle, I’d gathered my resolve. Danielle encouraged me from the bottom of the first slope, since she’d skied ahead to encourage me to follow her. Too bad I was having none of that.

I looked down the left side of the slope, saw an opening in the traffic, turned my skis toward the base, and headed down. After a few yards, I slammed my skis to the left to stop. I turned 110 degrees, throwing a lot of snow with the back of my right ski. I’d picked up too much speed and didn’t like it. I quickly realized my journey would be like this the entire way down. My inexperience was obvious, but my fear was the challenge.

I repeated this process multiple times before I’d passed the approximately 40 yards down to the first hill of the slope. Danielle continued to offer encouragement, but I didn’t realize that she was right to encourage me to push myself. I tried a little by forcing myself into a right turn. I didn’t quite make it, so I overcompensated and turn left to stop. I tipped over.

I struggled to get myself standing again. Doing this on the side of the mountain was different than trying to stand up on flat snow. It’s harder because gravity pulled me down if I turned the wrong way, but I could use the angle for better leverage when I aligned myself. I tried to remove my boot to make it easier, but I couldn’t use my pole to press a boot free from the lock. Leaning back, then pushing forward, I managed to stand up.

I aimed for a longer journey this time. I’d managed to gather speed and stop it when I almost ran over the instructor. I surmised that I could do it again. Danielle told me to do it. I did.

I turned my knees in when I needed to slow down. This was less effective than turning would be, but I kept moving forward. Once I’d gone about 40 yards, I began to think about what I was doing and became unnerved. I needed to stop, so I swooped left. I stopped but didn’t turn enough. I began to slide toward the snow bank on the left side. This wasn’t a good development. I tried to turn myself against the slope to stop my slide but couldn’t. I slid into the snow bank.

I didn’t realize it would be so hard to get out. The snow was 18 inches deep and I slid in to my boots. I couldn’t lift my skis because the snow was too heavy and I couldn’t back up because of the angle. I was stuck.

I sat down in the snow and devised a plan. My skis had to come off. While I tried to figure out how to unhook them, Danielle came over. She was laughing because I was stuck. People fall all the time while skiing, but they don’t get stuck in snow drifts. After trying to pull me out, she unhooked the lock on my skis.

I pulled myself away from the deep snow and stood up. I worked my way into my skis and scoped out the rest of the slope. There was an orange warning sign by the tree because I wouldn’t have seen the big tree otherwise. I wasn’t going that way anyway, since it was in the middle of the slope. I’d stretched my actions, but I still liked the safety of the sideline.

Since I was ready to continue, I tried to maneuver myself for the next run. I can’t explain how it happened, but here is the result:

Thankfully, I was beyond the possibility of embarrassment by now, but I still felt like a moron. I kept falling down while not skiing. Learning to ski must be what babies feel like learning to walk, but they’re fearless. I told Danielle to leave me. I was happy to die a cold, sweet death.

There was no way I was getting up by myself this time, so Danielle came back up the hill again to help me. Once standing, I drove the spiked tips of my poles into the snow and dug my left ski in for balance. This steadied me. She pointed out that I didn’t have far to go. We could see the chair lift by this point, so the end was a possibility. Seeing that we were alone on the slope, I headed into the middle to practice another right turn. As I skied forward, then pushed with my left leg, I started to turn right, then stopped. I didn’t complete the turn, but it was a start. Danielle skied ahead to judge the last hill since it looked steep. Even though there was no one at the bottom, there wasn’t much stopping room, so I wanted to know what it was like.

This was good because there was a large patch of ice in the middle of the last hill. She told me to ski to the left to avoid it. A couple of left turns, stops, and starts later, I stood at the bottom. The journey was ugly, but I’d made it down.

The most fortuitous realization was that we were on the South chair lift instead of the Central. I’d known we would end up here, but hadn’t expected the trip down to be so mentally exhausting. If we’d been on the Central slope, I doubt that I would’ve gone up again. Since we had to ride the lift to get back to the ski lodge, we swung around for the ride up. I had one more run in me. Then I’d have to explain to Danielle that I was ready to leave and I didn’t know how she’d take it.

Part four is still to come… I’m sorry for stringing this out. I’m not doing it intentionally, but I’m writing more narrative than I’m used to writing. Part three is over 2,400 words, all written today. That takes time, so my fingers are sore. I will wrap this up soon.

Skiing (Part Two) – If something gets in your way, turn.

The instructor gave us our first task: glide a few yards down the slope, then turn left. That seemed easy enough. I have a much easier time turning left than right when ice skating, so I assumed this would be the same. I was right.

I didn’t factor in my position in line. Needing to observe and analyze put me into a more challenging position because the line at the top became the line on the side of the hill. The first person went a few yards and glided left. As the last person to try, I had to glide down a few yards times 8. I succeeded, but pulled into my turn going faster than I’d hoped. It brushes up a big snow burst, but that wasn’t the point. Worse yet, I knew what came next.

Our instructor explained the right turn. “Like the left turn, but push with your left leg instead of your right.” Oh, yes, it is that easy, my friends. He skied further down the hill and stopped on the right side.

Since I was the last one to try the left turn, I should’ve been the first one down for the right turn. I wasn’t ready to go, though. I needed to prepare. I didn’t want to stare at Death without care. I doubt Death enjoys a nonchalant gaze, so I didn’t want to be punished.

The first person at the top of the hill departed, followed by everyone else. I stayed where I was for an extra moment. Knowing that, even if I wanted to quit, I had to get down the slope, I prepared my mind with the actions I need to perform.

I felt extra conflict because of my position. This maneuver required a 180 degree shift in my direction. I’d seen the mesh fencing on the right side of the slope, but I didn’t want to tangle myself in it. Everyone else was at the bottom of the slope, getting in line for the J-Bar ride up, so I had to act soon. I turned downhill and skied.

I tried turning right, but that did not happen. I wobbled from side-to-side, turning left when I needed to slow myself down. After a brief rest, I stumbled to the bottom of the hill. I’d succeeded on my first trip down because I hadn’t fallen.

Since we’d put our poles aside while we learned to balance ourselves, I had to fight my way up the tiniest incline I’ve ever struggled against to get in line for the J-Bar. I wanted to use the ski poles, but we’d left them too far away. Once up the incline, I joined Danielle in the queue.

I caught my ride and prepared for the combined left and right turns that waited once I reached the top. I was stoic as she looked back at me each time the J-Bar stopped. People fall off a lot, but I avoided that indignity. As I neared the top, Danielle smiled encouragement at me. And the J-Bar stopped three feet short. Stranded on the bunny hill. Again.

We formed the line when everyone reached the top. Here is where I admit I was the last one to reach the top. As nervous as I was, I didn’t mind holding up the class. Besides, it’s all about me. Learn that now and it makes life easier.

The instructor explained how to relax and put multiple turns together. Since this will slow a skier’s descent, I listened. He told us to try it. Still lacking confidence, I hesitated. After everyone skied down (I’m last again?), the instructor asked me what size skis I had. I told him 158.

“Get shorter skis next time. It’ll give you less work to do when turning.”

I like that concept. I’m tall and lanky, so anything that will improve my mobility is helpful. (There was this one time, playing basketball at a friend’s house as a kid, I had some repeated troubles with a row of cobblestones surrounding the court. I won’t go into it.) He gave me his last words of encouragement, then told me he had to go for his next class.

“I’ll be fine, don’t worry.”

Fine right where I stood. He skied down. When he reached the bottom, I noticed Danielle coming up on the J-Bar, with both sets of ski poles, so I waited for her. Once she got to the top, we discussed my issues with turning right and how to overcome them. Then she said she’d meet me at the bottom and skied down.

Alone, I prepared my plan. I was not ready for this but I had to do it. I hatched a safety plan. Skiing down the hill slowly, with my legs turned in and feet turned out, I could practice multiple skills. I would learn to slow myself, maintain balance, and navigate obstacles. A brilliant idea.

While facing right, I turned to my left and headed down. Picking up speed, I turned the back of my skis out and pushed into the snow. I descended, but slowly and under control! I made slight turns as necessary, and stayed composed.

At the bottom, I tried to contain my excitement. I looked up and noticed Danielle filming my journey. I assumed she was taking a picture, but realized she was capturing video when she kept filming. I raised my arms in triumph. A simple task, but I’d done it. I started to ski to her in line for the J-Bar ride.

Have a look at my triumph.

Video: My first journey down a slope!

What you can’t tell in that video is that I’m laughing like a crazy person at the end. I had no other possible response to that absurdity.

After a few moments, I tried to get up. No one said getting up with skis strapped to my feet would be so hard. I attempted every body twist I could imagine to get up, but nothing worked. I looked up to motion Danielle to come over. Once she got to me, I tried to get up by pushing myself off the ground. When this didn’t work, I discovered that I needed to lean back, then push downward, while she pulled my up by my hand. Once I was standing again, we skied back to the queue for the J-Bar. While in line, she knocked the snow from my coat and jeans as I continued laughing at myself.

I grabbed the J-Bar first, so I rode up the hill ahead of Danielle. After a few stops because people still couldn’t hold on to the pole, I reached the top without being stopped three feet short. I skied away from the J-Bar to position myself for the next trip down while I waited for Danielle. After positioning myself, I looked over at Danielle. As she got to the top, the J-Bar stopped her three feet short of the top. She smiled at me as I laughed. “Neener neener,” ran through my head.

Once she reached me, she offered words of encouragement, explaining more details about turning right. I had to learn this before moving on to the next slope, I began to think I’d spend the entire afternoon on Candy Cane. It seemed a plausible, positive dream.

At this point, we both knew that I needed to ski down, whatever the consequences. I could make turns as I went, even if it meant a face-first dive into the snow. It seemed too simple, but skiing was the best way to learn to ski.

Danielle offered a final pep talk, then left me alone. When she reached the bottom a few moments later, I knew I had to follow.

I scoped out the path ahead and noticed a clear lane down the right side of the hill. This was the time to try right turns as I skied down the hill. I calmed myself, then leapt forward. Once again, I was out of control and had to skid to a stop, but I did it with a right turn instead. Pleased, I headed down again. My descent was ugly, but I managed to turn left to steer away from the edge, then right again to practice multiple turns. I reached the bottom with a triumphant smile on my face.

“Let’s go to the chair lift,” Danielle said. “We’re going to ski Snowball.”

“But I want to try Candy Cane again.”

“No, you’re ready for Snowball.”

“But…” Unconvinced, I followed her to the chair lift.

Part three still to come…