Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lift Me Up

The first time I skied, I realized rather quickly that beyond practicing my really bad parallel turns and figuring out how to stop without taking down a border fence, that the real skill to skiing was in mastering the chair lift. I equate it to learning how to drive a stick shift...that is, once you know that you can shift your car into first gear without stalling; doing it while stopped on a hill without rolling into the car stopped behind becomes a whole other accomplishment.

With the chair lift, first you have to pivot yourself into position while the lift is still moving, generally not an easy task with 12 foot feet attached to your toes on slippery snow. Then, you crouch down and try to sit while the moving lift hits you from behind, scoops you up and takes you out...sometimes in knocking you down. It's a bit of a dance that you must master with the art of skiing and snowboarding, one fraught with endless possibilities of falling flat on your face and embarrassing yourself in front of line skiers waiting in line behind you. But then falling and getting up is part of the game of snow sports which is why kids love learning it...only adults hate falling in the snow.

Disembarking isn't much easier, you have to learn how to ski off from a moving lift and gracefully ski to the side so you don't block the people coming off behind you. To the beginning skier, facing the chair lift can be as daunting as a running a double black diamond trail. When I was first learning as a teenager I dropped a ski getting on the chairlift and had to ski off the lift at the top of the mountain on just one ski....a neat little trick but not one I wanted to repeat at the time. As a skier or snowboarder you have so many stories of falls, slides, crashes, dropped equipment, and just about every other possible mishap that you could fill a book. Part of the fun are the war stories you get to repeat to each other apres-ski. That's the challenging part of facing the mountain....and much like life, it's not just about the fun you have getting down the mountain, but the challenges you face in getting up.

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