I did not grow up skiing. I am not a pedigreed, savvy, fancy-familied skiing person.
I skied once or twice in middle school on youth group trips to Gatlinburg, but I’ve since learned from true skiers that Gatlinburg doesn’t count. (Those who will remain unnameless were horrified at the notion of skiing in a place like Gatlinburg.) So like I said, I did not grow up skiing.
// Copper Mountain //
A few years ago I married this precious athletic maniac who plays every sport under the sun. And this man loves to ski. He’s a natural. His skis go shoop, shoop, shoop down the mountain. Unfortunately, he voiced his dream of us zipping down the slopes together, and in his mind, we were probably dodging in between moguls on fear-inducing black diamond runs. Most likely cackling at the ease of our gait. High-fiving as we passed each other on the powdery, slippery slopes. Yuck, doesn’t that sound like a friggin’ all-American Neutrogena ad? He had plans for me. I happen to be rebellious in nature, so I loudly fought such expectations.
My plans included holding my ground, claiming my independence from his dream and fighting for my right to settle cozily in my non-skiing ability. You ski, I’ll just go to the spa, I told him. But alas, my plan was thwarted. Not only did I fall in love that athletic hunk, but I fell in love with his sport.
I love it. I love to ski.
Yes, I’ve experienced moments of panic at the top of a slope, shivering (not just from the cold) at the sight of the impending drop-off. I’ve cried in the middle of a blue run, while a ski school class of 4-year olds easily sashayed their way down the mountain with ease. Like a family of swans. How are these children so fearless? I know what to fear. I know the imminent doom that awaits if I attempt to turn my skis and FAIL. You can break your face doing such things. I know. I’ve done it before. Remember the above-mentioned Gatlinburg trip? I took a nice beating to the face (and the pride) on my first trip down the slopes. There were medics involved. Face stitches. It’s the way I lost my last baby tooth and declared my retirement from skiing for-ev-er. Alas.
I skied at Breckenridge and Copper Mountain this past President’s Day weekend. I felt the icy wind on my face, the powder beneath my skis and the beating of my anticipating heart. I looked fearfully at my love, unsure if I could really make it down such a pass. It’s too steep, I said, I don’t think I’ll make it. He just looked at me and laughed, You always do! Of course he’s right. I have to find some way down this mountain, and it’s either in a mad rush of adrenaline or in a body bag. I looked down, down, down the black diamond peak, speckled with moguls the size of Volkswagens. And I decided that he was right. I cut hard to the right, hard to the left, back and forth, back and forth, realized this is really fun, back and forth, shoop, shoop, shoop and - there! I am gliding, I am down the peak, I am a victor of my own worst-case scenario fear. I see how this sport can become addicting. His smile was wider than the sunshine. My heart was racing like a girl who just won the mountain. Because I sort of did.
Friends // Happy Donut Sign // Snowboarding Cousin Reunion
I’m still scared of those black diamond peaks. But I’ve done it once, twice, half a dozen times now. So the next time I come to the edge of an icy-slick slope, I will have a bit more confidence that I can make it down this mountain. I can have victory over this intimidating phantom, I can triumphantly sashay like a fearless 4-year old. Just maybe, I can be a rebel AND a swan.