My Foray Into Self Torture: Skiing

ski

Oh, bloody hell. It’s barely even Fall, the leaves haven’t even changed and began to drift from the trees yet, and already it has happened: the dreaded “Let’s take a ski trip this Winter!” conversation. This suggestion, said excitedly by a friend just recently, makes my blood run cold.

Skiing. Or as I like to call it Suicide: Fear Factor Edition.

I’m afraid of skiing. I didn’t ski for the first time until I was 26 years old, and to say I was horrifically lousy at it is such an understatement. I know, people just love the hell out of this terrifying sport, but I just don’t understand why. That shit is scary, you guys! Shooting down an icy, snowy mountain while your life flashes before your eyes- super fun? No.

It’s probably just me, because there are a myriad of reasons for me to not like it:

  • I hate to be cold
  • I don’t really like snow
  • I’m afraid of heights
  • I get altitude sickness
  • I’m clumsy to a fault
  • I don’t want to die

So, I don’t know, you tell me- do I sound like a good candidate for becoming a ski bunny? Unfortunately, since I had never skied before, I didn’t think to take all of those factors into consideration when heading to Colorado for my first crack at it. My husband, who had grown up skiing often and is now a dude who skis the Blacks, just assured me that skiing is just such a blast and I thought, “Ok! I’m down for a good time- why not?”

Ha! Why not, indeed.

The first inkling that I wasn’t going to like skiing is the damn snowsuits you have to wear. Since I hate being cold, I bundled the hell up (tremendously bad idea). By the time I got ready to head out, I felt like Randy from A Christmas Story; I truly looked like a tick about to pop. (“I can’t put my ARMS DOWN!”)  Then, just attempting to get my skis on was another giant pain in the ass; not only are the boots heavy AF, but I can’t ever get my skis to snap into them. My husband kept having to violently shove my shoulders down hard enough to pop my skis into place. Anyone who has ever donned a ski knows how freaking impossible it is to walk in the damned things, so right off the bat I was sweaty and exhausted (and had almost fallen down twice) before I ever even got to the bottom of the mountain.

Since I was a beginner, the hubs had set me up with some ski lessons. I get to the learner’s slope to find that I was pretty much the only person above the age of six taking lessons that day- lovely. So there is just me and a bunch of kids, but the bonus to that was that there was snack time. (Cocoa and Teddy Grahams, because kid’s class; I’m not even sorry, though- that was my favorite part of the lesson). Once me and the ankle biters had mastered the basics, we upgraded to the bunny slope. I love the bunny slope! That shit is my jam. You get to (slowly) zoom up a little escalator/conveyor belt type thing to the top of a very manageable hill, before gleefully (and, again, slowly) gliding down about 4 seconds worth of slope. It all makes you feel so confident, hoppin’ along the bunny trail; it truly convinced me I was going to be able to ski.

After a whole morning of happily scooting my ass down the bunny slope (a little too well obviously; I should have pretended to struggle longer- rookie mistake), my ski instructor gave me a bright smile and said,”Well, looks like you’ve got the hang of it! I think it’s time you head up to try some Greens!” I patted his arm and assured him I was plenty happy where I was, thanks, and saw no reason to leave the bunny slope. He told me, encouragingly but firmly, that it was time to bounce. And so there I was, kicked off the bunny slope, and sent off to the big scary mountain that had loomed above me all day like some big bully I was going to have to face. I found my husband and gave him the unfortunate news that I was supposed head on up to where the big girls ski. He actually seemed really excited about my doom, which kind of made me want to slug him in the gut; he obviously didn’t understand what a tragedy this was. I bid my beloved bunny slope goodbye as he starts leading me toward the ski lift. As I gazed above me to see just how high up in the air they were are, I decided I’m absolutely fucking not getting on that thing.

“Can’t we just use the escalator thing?” I asked him, hopefully.

He looked confused, which made me worry a bit. “What escalator thing?” he asked.

I pointed to the bunny slope lift. “One of those. Is there one of those?”

He was amused. “Uh, no. No escalator. There is only a ski lift.” I wanted to run away, but he wouldn’t let me. After many assurances that I was going to be fine on the ski lift, I begrudgingly got in the line to board it, all the while obsessively staring up in horror at the floating death traps moving above.

Once on the ski lift, I realized quickly it was every bit as bad as I thought it was going to be. They are super high in the air and there are no seat belts! None! Just some dumb little lap bar stood between me and plummeting to my death- and my husband refused to put it down.

“Ugh, no one uses the bar, honey,” he said, exasperated. I start to freak out, trying to pinch him with my gloved fingers and hissing at him to put the fucking bar down RIGHT NOW! Finally, with a sigh and an eye roll, he relented, and I spent the rest of the ride clutching that bar until my hands ached. Higher and higher we went, until I was practically pissing my pants in terror from being so far off the ground. I loathe the ski lift.

Worse than the heights issue, though, is trying to get off of the ski lift. As the top of slope approached, I realized I didn’t know how the hell I was going to get up from the lift and make it down the hill. I started to panic and sweat, instantly regretting my decision to ever get on the Gondola of Death in the first place. As my skis hit the ground, I find that I can’t stand up, and instead just get shoved down the hill, bent over and trying not to fall on my face. I managed to stay on my feet, however, so I considered that a bonus. I painstakingly make my way to the top of slope, look down, and prepare for my first venture down the mountain.

And Now, The Actual Transcript From My Brain On My First Ski Run:

“Holy shit! Ohmygod! Holy shit! Ohmygod! Where is the bottom of the mountain? Why can’t I SEE the bottom of the mountain? How high up am I? I must be really high up! I’m going to die! Holy shit! Ohmygod! Why am I doing this? I’m actually going to do this. I immediately regret this decision! Ok, damn, ok, here I go….aaah! Too fast! ‘Pizza’, do the ‘pizza’! (turns my skis inward) Ow, OW! ‘Pizza’ hurts my knees! Straighten out, back to ‘french fry’ (attempts to straighten skis back out) Ahhhh! Too fast again! ‘Pizza’ again!…. ow, my knees- they will never be the same after this….. is that a 3 year old zipping past me? Little show-off brat…..oh shit, person coming up fast on the left- don’t hit me, don’t hit me, don’t hit me…(get sprayed in the face by a shit ton of snow from passing skier) Ahhh- that’s cold! Snow in the face- I can’t see! I can’t SEE! (furious attempts to brush snow off my goggles) Fucking snow- so cold!….Oh shit- just dropped one of my poles! What the hell! How do I get it, I can’t stop, I can’t STOP!!….person ahead, PERSON AHEAD! How do I get around them? Get around them, get AROUND them!…..whew, got around them….holy shit. This sucks, this SUCKS! (Husband skis up to my right) There’s Brian, oh good, I’m not alone! I won’t die alone! Is he….? Is he skiing BACKWARDS just to taunt me? ….He is! So smug, I’m gonna kill him for getting me into this, I’m gonna KILL HIM!….ohmygod, so many people ahead….I’m going to hit them, I can’t get around them! Move, idiots, move! I don’t know what the hell I’m doing!!!….holy shit, they moved!….where is the bottom? Am I almost done?…..Ahhh!! Too fast again, I’m starting to slide slideways…..oh shit…..still going sideways….I’m gonna fall down, I’m gonna FALL DOWN!!!!…..Ok, ok, I straightened out, oh hell, that’s so scary….shit, seriously- why are there so many people on this mountain!! Don’t they cap this shit?…..ugh, more kids zooming by…how the hell are they so good at this?….Oh damn, that kid was in my lesson….he thinks he is just so damned cool, going faster than me, what a brat……more people, can’t get around them!!!!…..ok, fine, managed to get around them….person ahead has stopped- why are you STOPPED!!!!….oh god, barely missed that one…..I’m not gonna make it, why am I doing this???…..how much longer ’til this over……aw shit, too fast again!!!…..oh no, a tree- A TREE!!! Get away from those trees!!!…..ugh, my knees really ache…..wait, is that the bottom?….holy shit, it’s the bottom! I’m gonna make it….I’m gonna make it…..almost there!!….fuck, how do I stop? How do I STOP?!?!…..’pizza, pizza, do pizza! I gotta STOP!!!……holy shit, I made it……and I stopped….I survived!!! I did it!!!!….I’m a skier, I skied!!!….I’d like to thank the Academy, and my mom……”

I was never so relieved as when I got to the bottom of that mountain. That was the craziest, scariest five minutes of my whole life- damn. But, I had skied and I had not died- I win at skiing! Glad I tried it, but never needed to do that again. I clomp over in my dreadful skis to my husband, who is grinning at me.

“Great job! Was it fun?”

I gave a half-hearted thumbs up, just so happy that it was over, but not wanting to shit all over his hobby.

“It was O.K.,” I said, although I was shaking and my hands were so sweaty under my gloves that I’m pretty sure I saw steam rising up out of them.

“Cool! Ready to go again?”, asks my sadistic, sadistic husband.

Wait, what? Am I on glue? I thought I just heard him say we should do it again? That can’t be! You think I’m doing that AGAIN? Dude, I lived. I won at skiing; there is no reason to do it again. I’ll just take my Survival Medal and call it a day. I won’t survive twice, silly! For a man of his intelligence you would think he would know that. Surely he can’t be serious about me doing it again.

To my dismay, he was serious. We were totally going to head back up Suicide Mountain on the Gondola of Death, and apparently we had whole day ski passes. We were going to spend the whole day doing this. I felt a single tear form in my eye as I dragged my shell-shocked ass to the ski lift line, stumbling over my giant ski feet.

Back on the terrifying ski lift again, I spent the whole time not looking down and frantically elbowing my husband every time he rocked the damned gondola. He wouldn’t quit swinging his skis back and forth, and acting like this whole thing was actually fun. It was super annoying; I began to suspect he only took me on this trip because he knew that, me, his klutzy-ass wife, would off herself on a ski slope and he could escape to Mexico with the life insurance money.

Once again, the dreaded moment came that I had to figure out how to get off the lift, and this time I really put my back into standing up faster. I got a little overzealous and essentially threw myself off out of the seat, at which point the lift shoved me forward and down I went, head over skis, tumbling down the hill. My skis went flying from my feet as I finally came to rest, sprawled out face first in the snow. I lay there for a few moments, trying to figure out where I went so wrong in life as to wind up in this situation, as Brian is frantically shouting at me to get up, GET UP- I’m blocking the other skiers from coming down from the lift. I roll over and try to heft my snow suited ass up off the ground, huffing and grunting like Fatty McGee (and did I mention that the ski suit I borrowed was HOT PINK? Because I needed any more reasons for people to notice the freak show that was me), as more superior skiers zipped past me whilst staring at what a pathetic creature I was. Brian rescued my skis from where they landed on the hill and helped manhandle me back onto them. So far, this run was not exactly aces. But it would get worse- oh, just so much worse!

On this slope, you start off by going down a much steeper hill than I had skied earlier- I mean this hill was just sooooo long and steep. (Actually, in hindsight, it wasn’t a very big hill at all. Like, not at all- anyone could hike up this hill and not even break a sweat, ok?) But to my anxious and stressed out mind it may as well have been the fucking Grand Canyon for how it appeared to me at that time. I proceeded to have a full on panic attack, right there at the top of what can really only be described as a “mound of snow”. I pull my goggles up and start gasping for air, literally on the brink of tears. My husband, trying to be sympathetic but rapidly losing patience, is trying to calmly coax me down the hill, as I continue to freak out like a tool. After several minutes of this he pulls up his goggles, too, to give me a look that plainly says he can not believe me right now, and gives me a very firm lecture about pulling myself together. I was in such a frazzled state that I can’t now remember everything he said in the speech he gave me, but I do know it included words like “over-reacting” and “you’re being embarrassing”.  Finally, after watching, like, five toddlers ski down this hill, I decided that I, a grown woman, could probably handle it. The whole above written transcript once again flashed through my mind the whole way down that slope, too, and I was even more relieved to get to the bottom.

And the fun part kicks in when? I never really found out.

I did go on several more runs that day and I must admit it did get a little easier, although the anxiety never went away. To say I enjoyed my first day of skiing is going way too far; perhaps saying I “semi-pleasantly tolerated” it would be more accurate. I had only one more really harrowing experience when I accidentally found myself on a Blue slope (fuck that, dude- never again!) and wound up falling down and losing my skis an untold number of times until I waved the white flag and walked down the rest of the slope (don’t judge me). Of course, this little episode came after the friend group we were skiing with that weekend decided it was a good idea to stop by the ski-up bar located on the mountain. This sounded like a superb idea to me, because what would be better to soothe my anxiety than a nice, big cocktail? But I severely underestimated how quickly the alcohol would seep into my system at that altitude, because underestimating things is my super power. So it was only after I stupidly had a drink that I remembered I still had to survive down the rest of the mountain on skis- and now I had the bonus of being tipsy on top already being just a total fucking train wreck. Bacardi Rum + Skis = Rolls down a damned mountain until you give up and walk.

It was only after a whole day of skiing that I realized the punishment doesn’t end when you leave the slopes. No, no, the real smack down comes later, when you realize that you have used muscles that you don’t use very often (or maybe ever?) and the stiffness and pain sets in. By 9:00p.m. I was hobbling around our rented apartment like an octogenarian. I had never realized my groin contained so many pull-able muscles until that day. Skiing is just the gift that keeps on damned giving, and I crawled into bed that night hopped up on Ibuprofen and misery.

I’ve skied only once since that first trip, when my husband decided years later that it was high time our daughter learned to ski. I went through ski lessons with her again (just so I could be back on the bunny slope, naturally) and I only participated so that she wouldn’t think skiing sucks because I do (I mean, she can decide skiing sucks all on her own- she won’t need my help! Just kidding…..sort of).  On this trip, fate was on my side, and by the time lessons were over and it was time to head to the bigger slopes, a blizzard had swooped in and they had to close the runs. Everyone was disappointed except for me, and I had to grin to myself a bit about my lucky escape. (I felt a bit like a death row inmate who received a stay of execution in the 11th hour- no dying on a mountain for me today!).

So, in summation, I don’t love skiing. Does that mean I’ll never go skiing again? No, most likely not. I’ll get peer pressured into doing it again, I’m sure. But I’ll never be good at it, I can assure you of that. I will probably always panic, zooming down a mountain will probably never stop being scary, and I’ll always be happier when I can take my stupid skis off for the day (and the ski lift can seriously go screw itself- it is a horrific, terrifying place on which I’ll never not feel like I’m going to vomit). My ideal vacation will always involve ocean waves rather than snowy mountains. But that doesn’t mean I’ll never face-off with that damned mountain ever again, because, as we all know, I’m insane.

Now if you’ll excuse, I really should call my lawyer- I need to update my Last Will and Testament, just in case this ski trip actually gets scheduled.

Your Favorite Anti Ski Bunny,

Sam

xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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