Well, friends – it only took me 15 months as a Colorado resident, but I finally joined the ranks of downhill skiers! After a year spent watching my friends decamp to the mountains every weekend, I jumped at the chance to tag along with a few of my favorites to their condo in Silverthorne.
We loaded the rack with skis and boards and the coolers with beer and food and headed west on I-70. Unfortunately, some guy thought Friday afternoon ski traffic was the perfect place to begin driving so erratically the cops were forced to SHOOT HIM, turning a 1.5-hour drive into a 4-hour crawl along the frontage road. Fortunately, we had good CDs, great company, and some road sodas, so it felt like an adventure.
Once we got settled into their sweet condo, we cooked dinner (baked lemon-ginger chicken, herbed quinoa, and kale with pine nuts: power food!) and tucked ourselves in. We awakened at 7 a.m., drinking strong coffee while pulling on our snow pants and ski coats. After stopping to rent my gear, we drove to Breckenridge, where I had booked a lesson at Peak 8 and my friends were going to ski Peak 9. They dropped me off to ride the gondola, calling out the car windows for me to “have a good first day at school – make friends!” (Like a true rookie, I forgot my poles in the car, and they had to drive back and drop them off…)
I struggled to keep hold of all my gear as I hopped into the moving gondola, trying to ignore the butterflies in my stomach by chatting with the guys next to me. They, too, wished me luck as we reached the base of the peak.
Waiver signed and helmet on, the lesson began: we learned how to clip into our skis, slide around in a figure 8, and ride the “magic carpet” to the top of the bunny hill. On the short slope, we learned how to hold our poles, how to slow down, and how to turn. After lunch, those of us who had graduated to Level 2 (woo!) took the chair lift (a terrifying mode of transportation) up to the top of the hill, where it dawned on me that we’d have to ski back down. A few panic attacks later, I followed instructor Art – a handsome and talented man – down the run.
And it was exciting! And terrifying! And I did really well! Until two-thirds of the way down, when I started going way too fast and ended up in a heap of skis and poles, yelling “shit” in front of small children. Their instructor pulled me up, encouraging me like he would have one of his students, saying it was OK and skiing is really hard. Even though class was over, Melanie – a snowboarder from Denver learning to ski – offered to ride the lift up with me for one more run so I could regain my confidence.
We hopped off the chairlift with ease (as opposed to my first attempt, which ended by landing on my butt) and set off down the mountain. And it was exciting! And awesome! And I did really well! I made smooth, wide turns with something like confidence, sliding up next to Melanie at the bottom of the mountain, where we high-fived and headed back to the lodge. I met up with my friends and we traded stories from the day as we drove back to the condo, where the hot tub and Domino’s pizza awaited – a relaxing end to an exhilarating day.
We made it back to town in time to watch the bummer of a Super Bowl (you’ll get ’em next year, PFM), making plans to ski again in two weeks, all of us feeling so lucky to live in Colorado. Hope you all had a chance to enjoy nature and your friends this weekend – happy almost Tuesday!