Saturday, January 25, 2014

White Pass

"You are a trooper!  Didn't think you'd go down the hill again after that first run." - Jeremy Grant to me, after having a very death-defying ski down the side of the mountain

Jeremy loves to ski.  Loves it.  Has talked about it off and on since we've been married.  After seeing him ski, I now understand it.  He is really good at it!  Seems natural to him and he's comfortable in what he is doing.  He's gone quite a few times at different mountainous locations.

I learned to ski a few ways:  one time as a kid (not a great experience), watching YouTube videos the night before we went skiing and then getting on the skis and going down the mountain without any actual real-life practice.  Looking back I realize it was really not the very best idea (ok it was really dumb) to do it, but I threw myself into it and in the end, I got the hang of it really well!  Was a matter of getting there.  I really wanted to love skiing because Jeremy loves it.  I love hard exercise, a great workout, being outdoors and doing new things.  It was right up my alley!

We got our equipment on, headed toward the T-bar area (a much revised and better version of a rope tow) and trudged our way through the snow.  Couldn't get going very fast and still figuring out the skis, I felt really awkward.

Finally made it to the T-Bar and I was internally terrified.  The mountain was large and much steeper than anything I'd ever been on (at least, the one and only time I went as a kid on a man-made hill in Brighton, MI).  Website for updated hill skiing in MI:  www.mtbrighton.com

Skiing on a real mountain was not at all what I remember it being like.  Probably because it was an actual mountain.  I digress.  So I get to the T-Bar and I'm scared, but refusing to show it outwardly.  Mentally talking to myself and reminding myself that I CAN do this.  That I don't want to let Jeremy down and that challenges are really really great.  Even if the challenge is totally outside of my comfort zone.

The guy at the T-Bar tells me how to point my skis straight and instructs me to sit on the T-Bar.  Ok.  Got that.  I take the T-Bar and put all my weight on it only to find that I end up sitting all the way on my skis going up.  Didn't make it very far and fell over.  Ha!  I couldn't get up so the guy comes over and helps me up and says "You have to get up."  Um - yes.  Trying!!  :)

I get back to the line and this time let the T-Bar pull me up the hill.  Much better!  I ski easily out of it and don't fall.  Score one for me!  We have the choice to go down the beginner bunny hill to practice.  Jeremy tells me to follow him to the chairlift that will lead us to the beginner runs.  So I followed the best I could.  He said it leads to the "baby greens."  (beginner runs)

My first chair lift and I didn't fall off.  Felt really great about that!  It was such a stunning view as we made our way up.  Jeremy instructed me as the chair turned around to keep my skis straight and go to the left where the hill begins.  So I do and start skiing faster than expected.  Twenty feet later I am on my side trying to get up.

I use my poles to help and get up.  As I'm dusting my pants, I feel something massive hit me straight in the back sending me up into the air and I end up on the ground.  I hear someone say "sorry!  so sorry!" A new snowboarder flying down the hill couldn't stop from aiming right for me.

Going down that first time was just plain scary for me.  I tried to focus on where I was and not at the steep hill in front of me.  To focus on the area I was turning.  Found my feet facing straight and just soaring down the mountain and then landing flat on my right side every time.

Jeremy led me down the hill as they had shown in the YouTube video.  I worked my plough and wedge to keep from going fast.  Followed his path and found it much easier.  Made it to the bottom of that first run in one piece.

Jeremy looked at me and asked if I wanted to do it again.  I told him "Sure!" and up we went.  The second run down was amazing.  And the third and fourth.  Ended up falling only a few more times in those runs combined.  Caught on to how to use my hips, plough, angles and the shape of the terrain to help keep me at a pace I was comfortable with.

We decided to do one last run on the backside of the mountain going down a much longer beginner run.  That last run is worth a separate post.

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