First-Timer: Learning to Ski with Anna
Ever wonder what it’s like to live in a “ski bum’s paradise”, surrounded by open mountain ranges and world class ski resorts? What about the folks who live in the high country without the burning desire to ride the chairlift and take the plunge? Colorado Mountain College – Leadville student Anna Sophia Wolner, shares her experience learning to ski, and why you don’t need to be a mountain sports enthusiast to enjoy living in Leadville.
First-Timer: an account of my newbie skiing experience
written by Anna Sophia Wolner
People often ask me if I ski.
When I say “no, I don’t”, they look at me in shock and ask “then why did you move out HERE?”
I simply reply by saying I love the mountains, the natural settings, the sense of adventure in the air…etc. I don’t need to ski to enjoy myself. (Although, if you try to say this to a person who is absolutely infatuated with this winter sport, you will get some harsh denial accompanied by skeptical sideways glances. )
Lucky for me, I would be able to change my answer and avoid harsh criticisms in future conversations: I was going to ski, for the first time.
My older sister and her family came to Colorado to visit their friends and do some skiing. Their friends live in Frasier, Colorado—a few hours from Leadville—and one of them happens to work at Winter Park Ski Resort. I knew my family was coming to town, and I wanted to make sure we got the chance to spend some time together–they drove all the way from Minnesota, after all. So, I suggested, foolhardily and unaware of my commitment, that my boyfriend and I join them in a day of skiing.
The weekend approached, and we made our way to Frasier, Colorado—down the highway, up, down, and around treacherous, snow-buried, mountain roads, until we finally arrived.
Seeing my family and spending time with them in my new home-state was so lovely. However, there was some anxiety in the air when I realized that, come morning-time, I would be putting on all the ski-garb and throwing myself down a mountain. Voluntarily.
Oh god. I thought.
Everyone was very supportive and excited for me to try this new sport, which was both good and bad; there was an expectation that I would enjoy it once I tried it.
What if I didn’t like it, would I be disappointing all of these supportive people? I thought.
Oh well, I was gonna try it anyway, then I could make an educated decision about whether or not it was the winter sport for me.
As we parked the car at the resort, I gazed up at the steep, well-groomed, snow monster and my stomach was in knots.
Forreal? THAT? Ohgodohgodohgod.
I was left alone to get fitted for ski boots and skis—and my goodness I couldn’t have acted like more of a first-timer—I did not know how to walk in those darn boots nor did I know how to carry skis, how awkward. I clumsily walked around, totally convinced I was the only one who looked this ridiculous.
But, nonetheless, with the guidance of my sister, as well as my four-year-old nephew, I gingerly stood upright and managed to figure out how not to fall. Then, I somehow forgot that I also had to actually move….oh god.
I got the hang of it, once I accepted that it was not a natural motion nor was it ever going to be super comfortable. I faced my greatest fear: the ski lift. I can’t really say why, but those things made me nervous—What if I fall? What if I fall just trying to get on and off? What if..
Before I knew it, we were sitting on the bench, being hoisted up and up the mountain.
I managed to leave the chair lift. With it, my nonsensical fears of being somehow attacked and killed by the inanimate, slow-moving chair.
At the top, I was too nervous to consider how awesome it was that I was way up on a mountain, in the Rockies. Rather, I was trying not too look like a total fool next to my way-more-advanced-than-me nephew, cruising the slopes like an expert. His skis had flames on them, which, he claimed, “yeah, they make me go faster. Super fast”–I don’t deny it.
I moved along to the top of the run, and, with all the courage and strength I could muster, went against all my instincts and pushed myself face-first, down the mountain.
It was pretty fun, I will say.
However, I was not inclined to go super fast, so I spent most of my energy slowing myself down—I know, I am lame.
Ohgodohgodohgodohgogohgod… I repeated, aloud, to myself, as I slid down the trail.
I felt little spurts of pride when I successfully turned the skis and moved exactly how I wanted to—finally, my brain was making these awkward stick-things do the things I wanted them to!
Pretending I was an expert only lasted for about two seconds. After which I would speed up and get kinda scared and “pizza slice” my way down, painstakingly, in order to slow down to a snails pace—my speed of choice for winter sports.
Amid the sliding and stopping and discomfort of ski boots, I had an experience.
It was not wholly amazing, but it was not wholly terrible—I will regard it as a new thing I tried, a new, sort of embarrassing, mostly courageous thing I tried.
Afterwards, I sat down—awkwardly as one does, in full ski gear—and just took it all in. I wondered how everyone here, from the snotty little kids to the really talented skiers, once had a very awkward, slightly clumsy, first day of skiing at some point. Everyone has to, right?
I was sore as one could be and hungrier than I ever remember being, but I was satisfied with myself for accomplishing something I wasn’t necessarily inclined to pursue. At least I tried it.
Will I do it again? Maybe. Was it fun? Yeah, moderately.
Does it really matter? Not really.
The point is, trying new things expands your mind. From there you can form your opinions through experience, rather than fearful ignorance.
It is safe to say that, even though skiing is fine and dandy and I am very glad that so many people are so passionate about it, its not my favorite cup of tea. Will I do it again? Yeah, if the opportunity presents itself, but I don’t see myself going out of my way to do so.
All in all, it was a great weekend. I surprised myself with my strength and learned more about myself and what I do and do not like.
One thing’s for sure: it won’t be the last new thing I try.
…maybe next time I’ll try snowboarding.