Well, friends, it seems God wants me to be a skier. The very next weekend after my first time downhill skiing, some friends invited me along on a weekend adventure at Monarch Mountain, where it snowed 45 inches of fresh powder in the five days before and during our stay.
On Saturday, my wonderful friend Felicia strapped in for her first snowboarding lesson while I clipped in for lesson two on skis (our more experienced friends headed straight for the lift), and we followed our instructors out to the mountain. There was only one other student in the lesson – so different from the eight at Breckenridge – and the ski instructor Mark was great. He reminded me of all my coaches growing up: he yelled at us a lot, but it was all for our own good. While those years of benevolent abuse may have done a serious psychological number on me in real life, in the context of the lesson, it worked out great!
While my lesson mate seemed to get more tired and timid as the two-and-a-half hours went on, I got bolder and better, racing down the mountain after Mark. By the end, he told me I looked like a skier – it could have been empty flattery, but I felt like a skier, dammit, so I’ll take it.
Sunday, Felicia took another lesson (during which she boarded down a green run like an old pro) and I rode the TERRIFYING CHAIR LIFT WITH NO LAP BAR OR ANY OTHER SAFETY PRECAUTIONS up the mountain with her fiance, Brian, who is awesome at snowboarding. I’m not sure what happened during my sleep, but I awoke filled with anxiety in place of confidence, and it showed. We tried a different run than the day before, and I ate it at literally every turn. Thank goodness for all that fresh snow, because the falls didn’t hurt.
Brian generously offered to switch runs, even though a long flat stretch made it trickier for boarders, and he patiently encouraged me along the way. We made it down several more times, each one getting a marginally easier. I had a tiny emotional meltdown over pb&j at lunch – I was so disappointed for so many reasons: I was afraid, I once again didn’t trust or believe in myself, and I allowed all those fears to rob me of the liberating, exhilarating pleasure I’d felt only a day before.
Thankfully, Brian wouldn’t let us wimp out and made us do one more run after lunch – the boarders went down “Little Jo” and I stuck with “Rookie,” and it was actually a decent run! Felicia reminded herself and me that even though we may not be awesome at it yet, we were getting ourselves down that mountain. And then we ran into friends from Denver and laughed over beers in the bar while the pass was closed for avalanche blasting! It was all very exciting and reminded me why it’s worth sticking this whole skiing thing out.
It’s such a fun part of Colorado culture, clomping around in big plastic boots with a helmet and goggles on, but somehow looking cool, or meeting friends for a drink in the hot tub after a day spent playing in the snow. I might have more anxiety than your average bear, but I also have determination to match, and I want to give it a real try. After the past couple hours of watching the Olympics, I’m excited to go back up this weekend – these badasses may be vying for gold, but I’m happy with green for now. After all, blue is only a shade away…