I am not an idiot. I keep telling myself that. But many, many people in Vail would disagree. If they stop laughing long enough to disagree, that is.
I’ve been skiing exactly 4 times. Once, as a teenager in Chicago. That’s the flat midwest, to those who stick to the coastline. Ski hills are more like ski bumps. Then, I went skiing with some friends when I was around 20. That was in Utah, but Buttercup and I managed to stick mainly to the no-need-for-a-lift runs. Except when we went down a real hill. Mostly face-down, if I remember right. At one point, I was stuck in the snow with my skis straight up in the air and Buttercup was the same way and we were laughing so hard neither of us could stand up. Wonder why our friends never offered to take us skiing again?
My third try was this year at a real Rocky Mountain ski resort. I had a lesson. After 2 hours and one knock-everyone-down-because-I-can’t-stop experience, wherein I did, in fact, knock everyone down because I could not stop, the instructor advised me to stay on the very green, not even close to blue, almost flat runs. He was right. But I started feeling pretty confident after a few runs when I realized that A) I could stop by falling and B) falling didn’t hurt so bad on snow.
So, Hal and I decided to use a Groupon and head to Vail to ski. Hal skis. He grew up skiing. He doesn’t think that putting waxed sticks on your feet and going down an icy hill is a stupid thing to do. He thinks it’s fun. Sometimes, I think his mother dropped him on his head, but other than his taste for foie gras and sushi, and this whole skiing thing, I have no proof.
We went to Vail. Did I mention it was only the 4th time I’d ever actually put skis on in my whole entire very long life? So, because I like life and because I don’t like casts, I did some recon. I asked lots of different people, “Which are the very easiest green runs? You know, the ones that, say, people who don’t actually know how to ski would be able to go down without, say, breaking a limb?”
I should have known I was in trouble when the supersonic speed chair lift took a good 10 minutes to get to the top of the larger-than-Chicago size mountain. But, I was too busy trying to get my butt out of the chair to take a good look around.
And the first little bit didn’t look too horrendous. I thought, “Oh, if it’s all like this, it’s hard for me, but I think I can do it.”
And then it was too late.
Because by the time I realized that the mountain went down, very far and very steep, I was too far away from the chair lift to climb back on and return to civilization.
Much of that run is a blur, mainly because I was, in point of fact, crying. Snot freezes, by the way. Just in case you were curious. And if you cry and you have on goggles, they fog up. Another point of interest, just in case.
At one spot, I was turned sideways, using my pole to prevent my skis from sliding down the hill. My legs were shaking and my knees kept buckling. Hal was about 10 yards downhill from me, trying to convince me that I needed to move. And I couldn’t. I’m not prone to panic. I can climb a 3 story ladder without being afraid. I gave birth to 4 giant babies and I wasn’t even scared. But staring down that hill, I couldn’t make myself move. I didn’t think I was going to die. I didn’t think about broken bones. I didn’t think at all. I just could not move.
So the ski patrol stopped by. Maybe someone told them, “Hey, there’s an idiot chic on the mountain and she’s not moving,” I dunno. Hal was frantically trying to figure out which of the easy green runs, the runs that the 3 year old kids were cruising down, which of those runs was, in fact, easy enough for his wife who was not moving. Because I could tell he didn’t think that I could just stay where I was until the Spring thaw.
I’m home, now. I enjoyed Vail, the cute little shops full of $300 shirts and giant man-diamonds. I loved the food and I saw a great parade for Fat Tuesday.
But I will not go back in the winter. At least not until the nice ski instructors at the other ski hills tell me I’m ready for the black diamond runs. Because, I figure, if I can ski black diamond runs everywhere else, I might be able to get down a green Vail run without making the ski patrol sweet-talk me down.