Thursday, January 16, 2014

Skiing is Stupid

My daughter and I are planning to do a winter sports activity this weekend:  snow tubing!  We've been doing this for several years now, and it's a blast.  It's also relatively safe compared to another popular winter sports activity:  snow skiing.  We're going snow TUBING.  Big difference.  Much safer.  Possibility of injury snow skiing:  98%; possibility of injury snow tubing:  65%.  Statistics are my own approximations, through personal experience, and may equal +/- 50 percentage points.  But it doesn't matter.  The fact is, I find tubing much safer.

I went skiing about 18 years ago at Ski Liberty in Pennsylvania.  They were running a special deal that included ski rentals, lesson, and all-day lift ticket for a really cheap price for mid-week.  A group of colleagues at work had been doing this for a while, and they talked me into going.  I had never skied in my life.  They promised me it would be easy and I'd love it.

The day came, and I volunteered to drive a few of us up, though there were, all told, about 15 of us going.  Rick and John rode with me.  I got my skis, had all of my winter gear on, and headed outside of the locker room, where I met with a few of my colleagues.  I had missed the start of the lesson, and instead of waiting around for an hour until the next one, several of our group said I didn't need a lesson; they could easily teach me the basics and I'd be off and running.  I listened to them and believed them.  That was my fault.  And that was the end of my good time.

They took me over to the lift for the bunny slope.  I had been getting around okay up to that point, but I was on level ground.  The lift took me and Scott to the top of the slope, and as I got off the lift, I promptly fell forward onto my face into the snow.  I realized then that this wasn't the soft fluffy snow I had grown up with and knew.  This was rather hard, icy, and, well.... fake.  After those around me got a good laugh at my expense and ineptitude, I got up and made my way over to the slope.  Without a single word of encouragement or guidance, I watched all of my friends skate off down the hill.  I was by myself, and I didn't know what to do.  So I started down the hill.

Now, there are a few things I learned later that would have helped me a great deal at that moment.  One was how to control my speed.  Another was how to stop.  Yet another was how to fall correctly without hurting myself.  All of these, or even one of these, would have been great to know.  As I started down the hill, I knew none of these.  I started to immediately pick up speed, to the point that I knew I was going to lose control.  I could kind of steer, if I thought about it, but I wasn't thinking much as I reached an unsafe speed.  I started to lose my balance, and I fell face first, doing what might be called a face plant followed by a belly flop.  As I hit the ice (I won't call it snow), my legs went in 18 different directions, with one ski flying off my boot and passing me.  I was told this was the wrong way to fall (I didn't know at the time there was a "correct" way to fall).  Anyway, one of my friends, who had been following me, helped me get up and told me I was doing great.  I had to remove my remaining ski just to stand up.  Then I had to retrieve my other ski, and once I got them together, I snapped my boots in place to do it again.

And, again, I started down the hill.  I started picking up speed.  I got out of control.  And I did another face plant/bell flop on the ice, with my legs flying around me.  This time, my knee got twisted into a position it wasn't meant to go in, after my ski tip got stuck in the ice and I dragged it about 20 feet.  This was getting old very quickly.  But I still had a long way to go to the bottom of the hill.  As old as it got, I still ended up falling about 15 more times till I literally hit rock bottom.  I proceeded to take off the skis, go back to the rental shop and I turned it all in.  I was done.  Finished.  I had met the enemy, and it was a pair of skis, a hill, and a field of icy, hard mush.  My colleagues ran over to me and couldn't believe I was quitting already.  I was in a lot of pain, and I wasn't having any fun at all.  After one hour, I was done.

It was at that moment that Rick and John asked me if this meant I was leaving, since I had given them a ride there.  I couldn't make them leave.  Our original plan was to be there through the evening.  So I said, no, I'd stick around.  I ended up sitting in the restaurant/bar area at the resort for most of the day.  Fortunately, they took lots of breaks, so I only had a few hours of being by myself.  Most of the group were disappointed I had had a bad experience, and they said they wished I had given it another try.  I told them a lesson probably would've helped, but my knees and legs had already taken too much of a beating.  I wouldn't be skiing anymore that day, or ever again.  To this day, I have no desire to ever get on skis.

Tubing is a different story.  I'll share that one at another time.

Have a great evening, everyone!

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