Sunday was my last day on the mountain this ski season. Despite not getting any significant storms until March, it was a great year.
I grew up in Tahoe but didn’t ski until recently. I went once in Junior High. My husband was a lifelong skier and he dragged me along a few times in college. I could keep up with his mother, but she broke her leg in 2000. My kids started skiing around age three and quickly outpaced me. Especially when I only went once or twice a year.
But last year I broke down and got a season pass. It’s so much more cost effective than buying a daily lift ticket. I had bought a pair of skis off the wife on one of the snowboard coaches. She was even nice enough to ski with me while our husbands coached the teenagers.
This year, I skied mostly with the ladies. We started out as ski team moms but soon became friends. You form a bond with someone when suspended dozens of feet in the air on a cable. I’m not completely over my fear of heights, but riding the lift over and over again every weekend helped. And last year, we had epic snow, so it wasn’t that far down.
My oldest son worked as a ski instructor this year. He was great with the kids. We would catch up with him and his group of 7-12 year olds and you could see the smile on all their faces, hear the enthusiasm in his voice when he we encouraging his students. And he was still smiling when he got of work. He loves his job.
Of course, it’s easier to learn a new skill when you’re only three feet off the ground. It was much harder for me to learn as an adult. Especially when I was one of those students who learned things quickly as a kid. Academic things. Not athletic things. I knew in my head what my husband was trying to tell me, but I couldn’t make my body do it. And he’d been skiing for so long, he couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just relax and stop snow-plowing.
Skiing almost ended our marriage a few times. But in the long run, it has made it stronger. At a time when many families see their teenagers and adult children less and less, we got to spend more time together as a family. The forty-five minute drive up at 6:30 am, and the hour and a half drive home were times to chat, sing along to Tom Petty, and stop off at Squirrels for our ritual snacks.
My younger son won’t ski with me, but he wears a bright, vintage ski suit, so I am able to spot him from the lift and yell embarrassing things to him. Sometimes he even acknowledges me in the lodge. Usually when he wants some food.
I can’t keep up with any of my boys, but they’ll wait for me at the bottom. And when I’ve made it down the slopes with the wind in my hair, or rather in my face, because I’m wearing a helmet, I feel a sense of exhilaration. Before it was mostly fear and fighting gravity. But most of the time, I feel like I can fly. But I also know I can stop, and most of the time I manage to stay upright.
So until next season, the skis are back in the rafters. Ohh, that means it’s almost rafting season.