Sunday, March 30, 2014

I Ski, Therefore I Am...Part 2

Previously, on Blurb Musings...I had purchased the gear, I had set the date, and now it was time to ski down a hill!

Fun Fact #7: The hardest part of skiing isn’t actually skiing.

It’s the chairlift.


I’m not even joking.

The chairlift is a constantly moving conveyor belt that expects you to be ready when it comes around. In a pleasant summer day, that is not a problem at all. You walk up, you sit down, and you go!

But remember that you aren’t walking. You are on skis, and for a newbie like me, going forward three feet is a lot harder than going forward one hundred feet. At a chairlift, it’s all an inching process with dozens of other skiers and snowboarders. They try to create Disneyland ropes for lines, but it ends up being a big mess anyway, because you also have to try to line up your row before you even make it to the lift itself.

Pretty much, it’s a big mess.

My cousins guided me to the skinny gates, which opened when it was time to go. Then I slid along until I reached a yellow line, where my cousins grabbed me and pulled me to a stop. The yellow line is important, because that’s when the lift has slowed down enough and made the turn enough so you can sit your butt down and let the chair do its work.

On the main chairlift, called the Quicksilver, six people could fit on. Once we’ve all sat down, we bring down the armrest and skirest. Why a skirest? Skis and ski boots are super heavy, and when legs dangle, the skis and boots pull down. It makes for a very uncomfortable lift ride. Some of the smaller chairlifts don’t have skirests, but I’m thankful for the ones that do.

Oh, yea - getting off a chairlift is hard, too. As we came to the top, we lifted the armrest. Then we tilted our skis up, so that the bottom of the skis hit the hill first. Then the hill leveled off, and there was that yellow line again. This time, the yellow line means “GET UP OR ELSE!!!!!”

For me, getting off the chairlift was the thing I struggled with the most. My cousin urged me to scoot up close to the edge of the chair, but that was when we were still thirty feet off the ground! I eventually learned that it just had to be done. I ended up sliding on my butt off the chairlift several times, which made me feel really stupid. I was just getting off the chairlift, for Pete’s sake!

Fun Fact #8: Skiing is fun!

Once the chairlift ordeal was over, it was time to get down the hill. My cousin had a GoPro camera strapped to his head, and watching myself inch down the hill was amusing. My first trip down was actually pretty nice. I was moving at a snail’s pace, but with my cousins hovering around me, I knew I’d be okay.

The second time down, I went a little faster. I wasn’t constantly stopping all the time. I picked up a little speed. My J-curves started to improve.

The third time down, I had a ball! I was really finding my groove, and my cousins even were impressed by how quickly I was picking up this sport.

Personally, I was shocked. I had watched my fair share of ski events (just look at my Winter Olympic Blurbs!), but I didn’t realize how much of that viewing would help me. But it really did. The way the skiers go from side to side, keep their skis together, use their poles, were all things I could mimic (or, at least, try).

Fun Fact #9: Skiing is tiring!

The crowds at the chairlift were much larger by late morning, and it took longer to get through the chairlift line than it  did to get down the mountain! So we decided to take a break.

There was a lodge/cafeteria at the top of Peak 9, so we took the lift up there and all rested and ate our lunches we had made. (Extra Fun Fact: lodge food is super expensive, too.)

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how tiring skiing (and then resting) would make me. I went down Peak 9 two more times, and then my cousins suggested trying Peak 8 - part of which was blue. I agreed, so I took the connecting chairlift to the top.

If I had done the blue run in the morning, I probably would have really enjoyed it. But after lunch, my food was still settling and my legs hadn’t recovered. I really struggled down that hill. My J-curves ended up being gigantic, and I didn’t retain any momentum. It was stop, slide, stop, slide, stop, etc. There had been talks of trying other runs, but I finally had to say it was time for me to stop.

The cool thing was that my cousins had thought that I would need to get picked up from one of the parking areas at the base, but I was able to make it all the way down to their condo, which was positioned right next to one of the runs.

Fun Fact #10: The next day is always different

I was apprehensive to get out there again, considering how I had ended the previous day, but I did it anyway. My boots felt super tight, especially on my right shin. It was sore when I walked, but when I skied it was actually okay.

We took one of the mid-level lifts and found an area on Peak 8 where the ski school kids trained. It was only about 100 yards long, enclosed by a blue plastic fence, and instead of a chairlift, they had a platter lift. You ski up, grab the stick, put it between your legs, and let the lift slide you up the hill. Your skis stay on the ground, and it motors you up the short distance.

I made the mistake of thinking I had to sit on the platter, and wiped out the first two times. Once I finally figured the thing out, I did it nine or ten times. As I came down the hill, I practiced my parallel curves. It really did help!

We couldn’t stay on the hill very long, but my trip back to the condo was far less tiring this time! I arrived back with a fresh energy and a desire to ski more!

So there you have it. I went skiing, I really liked it, and I can’t wait until next season, when I can go out there again!

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