I’m a way better skier today, than I ever have been in my life.
That’s mostly because this is my first real season skiing since I was 13-years-old.
I took an 11-year hiatus from skiing from ages 13- to 24-years-old. And even when I did ski as as little girl, it was something I did once per winter — maybe twice — just a weekend family trip here or there.
But this year, after living in Colorado for 26 years, I finally bought my first pair of snow pants, skis, and a ski pass. Not only that, but I’ve already logged more ski days in 2013/14 than all the days I’ve ever skied my entire life — combined.
Some days I feel like I’m truly shredding; a master of the mountain.
But this past weekend I was humbled. I may be a skier, but I abruptly found out: I’m only an adult-sized beginner.
Here’s the story of the ski weekend that put me back in my place:
The weekend of Jan. 31 – Feb. 1 brought the largest 24- and 48-hour snowfall totals since the 2000-01 season to many of the I-70 corridor ski resorts. I managed to get my Friday off of work after crafting a little convincing blog post, and headed up the mountains with a friend on Thursday night through white-out conditions.
Friday morning we awoke to a skier’s paradise of roughly 3 feet of fresh snow. We pulled our feet into ski boots, hurriedly sunk hot-hands into our mittens, and started through the snow to wait in a seriously long line of eager skiers at the lift. A short, but restless half hour later, we dropped into the highly anticipated first powder tracks….
…ah the bliss!!! The softness, the splendor, the pow– BAM!
I’m flat on my face. I’ve crashed, hard. And am missing a ski.
Shit, I think to myself, that was unexpected.
It was the first of roughly 30-50 crashes I’d get in the next three days of skiing. Not exactly what I expected from an epic powder weekend. Especially after I felt like I was skiing so well this season. I quickly reflect on my skiing ability: I jump off mini-cliffs, get down double black diamonds with relative ease, maneuver through moguls without stopping on every single one…. I thought that was good!
Think you’re getting good at this sport? Think again, sister, my super-ego says (mocking me), while I shovel snow in fury, trying to dig out yet another lost ski.
Day one: Mountain 1, Jean 0.
I wake up again to a skier’s paradise: Another 8″ inches have fallen over the already heaping piles of snow. But paradise doesn’t feel quite as good as it did the day before. My body hurts. I’m sore from head to foot. My legs are full of lactic acid and feel like bricks.
But if there’s anything I’m terrible at, it’s having restraint.
As such, we get after it. I manage to huck off some smaller cliffs and hike to amazingly picturesque side-country lines in unbelievably deep snow. White sparkles, snow-laden trees, piles and piles of un-ending snow magic.
We seek out some of the more remote “stashes” of snow tucked away in steep terrain. I’m keeping up with the others (kinda), but my body is screaming. We ski: mogul, powder, mogul, powder, mogul powder for three hours until I’m about ready to fall over in exhaustion. I call it quits early, and head to a skier’s second favorite paradise: the bar. Apres lasts five hours.
Day 2: Mountain 2, Jean 0.
Another day of skiing, is my first thought when I wake up. And I can’t tell if I’m thinking it in a good way or bad way.
Never mind, the first order of business is taking ample amounts of Ibuprofen to tame the growing soreness in my body. Ah, that feels better. I can do this.
Not to mention, it’s a bluebird day out, and nobody is on the slopes, because conveniently it’s SuperBowl Sunday. I can do this.
We get another crew together, and — despite the fact that the mountains have chewed me up and spat me out for two days — I start feeling excited. I can do this.
I don’t really care anymore that I’m going to be the last one down the mountain every time. I find comfort in the loneliness of the mountains, and in the textures that the hundreds of skiers have left in the snow.
I can do this, I say out loud to the empty mountain around me. Nobody hears. And that’s okay.
Day 3: Mountain 2, Jean 1.
—– A special thanks to: Dan Gish, Alexa Flower, Rebeka Hamilton & Palmer Hoyt ——