Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I Think I Can


I'm in Utah, at the window of my hotel room, watching it snow. So this is what Spring skiing is all about. This, and the fact that yesterday it was 60 degrees and people were hanging out on the mountain in t-shirts and ski gear, eating puffy pieces of pizza and drinking beers with names like Cutthroat Ale and Polygamy Porter.

We're here with Rob's oldest and best friend Spero, his wife and three kids, and Penny and Bill, of DC cupcake fame. The kids have gone mental for skiing and there is no getting them off the mountain--even 4-year-old Nick, who won't actually take direction from his teacher and may have yelled at her one day, he reported with his dimples flashing. But now all he wants in the entire world is to advance to the chairlift, so he has promised to attempt good behavior.

Gus, the 7-year-old, is skiing black diamonds in parallel. Elena, the 6-year-old, was nervous at first, but is now streaming down the slopes with seeming ease.

Which brings us to me. This is the first ski vacation in 2 years where I haven't taken a lesson. I headed up to the bunny slope on the first day, and immediately began to hyperventilate on the chair lift. I employed some deep breathing techniques and tried not to look down. My first run can only be described as "pitiful." My legs were shaking; all prior instruction vanished in a wall of slippery snow. I talked myself down a nearly level pathway populated by cartoon character faces on trees. This was not tough skiing, people.

The nice thing is, after that first run, I did gain a bit of confidence. I went down the bunny slope a couple more times and then made my way over to the large mountain map to see what I could do next. An instructor approached and asked if he could help me out. I pointed to a few trails, dotted green lines that a newborn could scoot down. "I was thinking of doing these runs," I said, adding, "I'm not very good."

"May I make a suggestion?" he asked. "I would try these instead." He pointed to blue lines. "Just try them. And if you have any problems, just blame it on George." He gestured towards his name tag, which read "Steve."

For some odd reason, I decided to take this guy's advice and by the end of day one, I was actually skiing down blue runs without falling. I did still have to breathe deeply on the chairlift, though, and anyone who was anywhere near me on the mountain would have heard a very wordy personal pep talk happening at every turn.

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