Skiing Adventures

It is a snow day, so it seemed like a perfect excuse to write this blog post about my journey as a beginning skier. I am not an expert by any means and this is not a guide to skiing or anything like that. However, it is rare for me to find something like this that I enjoy as an adult and I have a lot of thoughts about it!

Last year, my brother decided that he wanted to learn how to snowboard, and that this year he was actually going to do it. His girlfriend has skied before, but hadn't for awhile, my husband used to snowboard quite a bit but hadn't in years, and I had never done any of it and hadn't thought too much about it to be honest. Growing up I danced a little bit, then switched full time to horseback riding, specifically hunter/jumpers. I have historically simply not been an athletic person. Horseback riding however though completely captivated me after I watched my cousin at a horse show. My parents got me into lessons, then in middle school I leased two horses and did some local competitions, but I was completely committed to being the best I could be at it. Due to some financial constraints, I didn't ride competitively again until college, where I rode on my college's equestrian team, then a few injuries sidelined me. Anyway, I bring it up, because it was the only thing I ever truly liked enough to want to practice a lot and get better. When we decided to try skiing, I figured I would give it a try, but wasn't sure how much I would actually enjoy it, but I had high hopes due to the way skiing stabilizes your ankles, where one of my bigger injuries was.

So, we set out for Holiday Valley in Ellicotville last January. Ellicotville on its own is a great destination as a fun little ski town , in all seasons. Myself, my brother and his girlfriend decided to take a basic lesson since we were either brand new or hadn't skied in years. It was definitely the best decision for my first time on skis. They had a great first time skier package that we took advantage of, and our instructor was awesome. I didn't make it off the baby hill, but I had so much fun and couldn't wait to try more.

We went back to Holiday Valley a month later, and graduated up  hills to the biggest bunny hill! Learning a new sport, is exciting but also scary. It is hilarious watching all of the little kids bomb down the hill fearlessly, but as an adult, you understand the concept of injuries and what could happen, and it can go to your head! So Tony coached me on the medium bunny hill, then at Holiday Valley they have a hill with a mini little chair lift in the beginner area. One thing that is nice is that they have a special life ticket that is beginner only before you are ready to go the main mountain. It is perfect for learning and building confidence. So, I got way more confident on the mini hill, so we moved up to the chairlift. I fell a lot, and getting up on skis is not easy let me tell you. but I stuck with it, and kept working on big turns to slow down, since picking up speed was really freaking me out. It was a good day overall, I was proud of my progress and couldn't wait to practice some more.

 Rocking that Apres life at the waffle cabin.

So, this winter, I had lofty plans for wanting to go quite a few times, but the weather has been fairly uncooperative. The resorts have been able to make snow, but every time we have had a nice snow it has been mid week, then warm and rainy again on the weekends. We had already got discounted passes for another local place, Kissing Bridge, and we wanted to use them so we finally just picked a date and went. They had snow on the mountain, but quite a few trails were closed unfortunately, especially since we are still beginners.

So, last weekend we headed up there, it is not a bad drive from our house which was nice. It is closer than Holiday Valley, so we were there and geared up before we knew it. Being smaller, it is nice and easy to navigate around too. I was a little bit nervous that I would have lost all of the skills I had picked up and would be starting at square one, but we headed to the magic carpet bunny hill to do a few runs before attempting anything else. To my pleasant surprise, my muscle memory kicked in, and getting back on those skis, and the way to turn and stop came right back, and we had three runs down the hill not only without incident, but very solid runs and that felt controlled. I was ecstatic, and after taking off a layer (it was basically a bluebird spring skiing day and I was literally sweating) I was deemed ready to attempt a green run after picking a way to try on the map.

We headed over to the chairlift, and I was really nervous because I hadn't used one in a year, and it was going really fast! I got on without incident, but I was nervous about getting off. I had mastered it last year, but the first time had definitely been nerve racking and I'd fallen. So, I really enjoyed the chairlift ride, and then we saw the signs for unloading. You guys, when I saw the little hill at the unloading area I freaked. It was super steep. So I was ready to pizza hard and hopefully stop. Well, I was so scared I waited too long to get off, and realized I was too high so I basically jumped haha and fell hard on my backside. I was fine but boy that was scary. So, after standing up again, we were ready to set off towards the trails. I was so excited at how well I was doing, following my brother's girlfriend who was also on skis. We went through a little trail through some woods, and it was so fun zipping along through the trees and I felt my confidence increasing exponentially, I was so excited. We found the trail we wanted and again went through a small chute area and I thought to myself pfft I can so do this no problem. Well, we exited the woods and I found myself on top of a large hill and I freaked! It started out fairly steeply. So, I decided to give it a go, and of course started to pick up some speed and panicked and basically fell on purpose. We then spent a good portion of time falling and Tony helping me get over to another chute rather than doing the whole hill. We met up with my brother and his girlfriend at the shoot, and I was shaken up but basically knew I had to get down the hill. So, I followed her through the chute which went really well. There was one section where it opened up and I picked up some speed and it was equal parts exhilarating and scary. It opened up back to the main hill and I almost made it down and then fell towards the bottom.

So, after that, I decided to build my skills and confidence on the bunny hill some more and Tony coached me a little, and I felt very confident by the end. In the past I wouldn't have kept trying to improve, but there is something about skiing that is so wonderful. Being out in the winter nature is of course invigorating, but also the focus that it requires is mind clearing and I love that, it reminds me so much of how I felt while horseback riding. So, I definitely plan to continue skiing, and it is wonderful to have something to look forward to in the winter.

I'm including this video because I'm pretty proud of it! I compared it to a video of me last year, and wow! It just goes to show what a few days of practice can do.

I think learning something new as an adult is a good experience. I think a lot of us as adults can get in a place in life where we are comfortable; in our relationships, in our careers, in our friendships. That is not a bad thing! I have realized though that once I am in that place, it is hard for me to move away from it. I love that feeling of a comfort zone, where nothing is unexpected. But things change, and we have to have that ability to be ready to go down that hill, learn something new or make an adjustment. And maybe have a little fun while doing it too.