So I had this traumatic experience when I was ten.
I was skiing for like, the second time ever. After a few runs down the beginner hill, I thought I was so pro, bro. I could handle anything. So I upped the ante by upping myself onto the nearest chairlift.
Once atop, I was able to get off the chairlift myself (albeit awkwardly), and then I saw the colored signs. Which way to go? I figured I’d stick with green: easy peasy.
So down I went.
Ah, the fresh air, the solitude, the freedom. As in introvert who liked (and still likes) her alone time, I really was enjoying myself.
But I became so engrossed in my innermost thoughts, that I didn’t realize I’d somehow merged onto a harder run. Harder run…um. My brain: Don’t panic, don’t panic, don’t panic. PANIC! PANIC! PANIC! (And this was no disco.)
The more I tried to calm myself down, the more my “fight or flight” response kicked into overdrive…or should I say overski. I was trying to fight my flight response. Not easy. Especially when you’re 10.
I gave up the fight. I was in full flight.
Mind you, this was Mount Holly, people, but it seemed like I was atop Everest with Krakauer.
In full panic mode, flying at what I deemed approximately 90 miles per hour…
Here a pole. There a ski. Everywhere a part of me.
Yup, I sent it. Like Lindsey Vonn. I Vonned it. And I felt it, too–the pain: outside, physical; inside, mortified.
That was the last time I skied. Approximately 30 years ago.
So when I met Matt, an avid skier, formerly sponsored by K2, condo owner in Vail…well, I told him I hated skiing. Which I did. Because of the “accident”.
And due to my competitive nature, I hate to suck at stuff. Just ask my sister about the Turkey Trot we ran together. So, I could not, would not, embarrass myself in front of this hot guy. Ever. (My how times have changed!)
In fact, the first time Matt took me to Vail in 2017, I didn’t ski. That’s right. I was the only one from our group (and quite possibly all of Lionshead and Vail Village and probably Colorado) who was not skiing. I mean, who passes up an opportunity like that? Me, that’s who.
Don’t get me wrong: I had fun there (see below). It’s gorgeous. I ate, I drank, I napped, I read, I wrote–I did my usual stuff. Usual stuff? In Vail? C’mon, Meg. Never mind the cost of a Vail lift ticket ($159). I regret it.
After lots of contemplation, courage, and craving to see Matt–who was gone skiing with his kids most of the winter–I decided after a year of dating that enough was enough; I may not get on skis again (not yet), but I’d try snowboarding beside him at Crystal Mountain.
Before we began, he asked me on a scale of 1-10 how I thought I’d do, so that he’d be prepared to guide me. I skittishly answered a 3 or a 4. #truth
So Matt stuck with me the entire time. Even when I told him to go off and have fun on the harder slopes, he stayed beside me, picked me up every time I fell, and encouraged me…patiently.
What a difference in life to have somebody beside you who picks you up every time you fall, and never leaves your side.
Fast forward two years.
As some of you who follow me on Instagram (@meg.in.the.mid) may have recently seen, I skied Otsego with Matt.
Allow myself to repeat that out of sheer shameless and unabashed pride: I skied Otsego.
Matt grew up there. His home away from home? The St. Moritz. His memories fond. His stories legendary: the little dents in the blue door of the St. Moritz? That’s my guy!
And I wanted to see it for myself. To feel that fresh air, that freedom, that solitude (yes, you can still have solitude and companionship in an appreciable and extraordinary relationship). I intended to throw all former cautions into that fresh wind, and send my fear and inhibitions down the slopes, with or without me.
So we got up early that bright blue, beautiful morning and got ready to hit the slopes.
I mean, I looked the part! I had a new outfit, helmet (don’t leave home without it), goggles, he rented me some boots, skis, and poles; and I felt okay.
We started off easy enough. Skiing is so much easier than snowboarding!
Matt is a really great instructor, giving me some tips and tricks; more importantly, he stayed by my side for moral (and physical) support as we began going down the least intimidating hills.
Then he asked if I was ready for the chairlift.
Okay, my two biggest fears:
1–Falling while trying to get off the chairlift.
2–Falling down the hill like I did when I was 10. Sending it. Vonning it.
But guess what? I totally rocked it! Chairlift: check! Black diamonds: check!
Both of my fears came to fruition. I fell getting off the chairlift. I fell going down a harder hill. Hell, I even fell once on flat ground getting into the lodge. But this time, it was funny. I laughed. We both laughed.
With age should come apathy of what others think of us, and more profoundly: not giving a tinker’s damn about messing up, falling, or failing.
So, I got up, got over it, and forged ahead.
Like Tiger Woods. (See what I did there: Lindsey Vonn? Tiger Woods? Not funny? Too soon?) Whatever, the point is about makin’ a comeback. I was a Survivor with the “Eye of the Tiger”. (Go ahead, sing it in your head.)
And to paraphrase one of my all-time favorite poems by Anis Mojgani, I shook the dust. Except in my case, I shook the snow.
Matt told me, “If you aren’t falling, you aren’t trying.” What great advice for life.
We ended up skiing for hours. And it was fun! I was having fun! And I felt like a kid again: joyful and free. Just going for a ride, worries aside.
I’ve fallen plenty of times in my life. We all have. Still, I’ve always gotten back up. So why should skiing be any different, or more intimidating, than any other mountains or obstacles I’ve overcome?
“If you’re not falling, you’re not trying.”
So send it.
Just like this…
Here are some skiing tips from Britain’s leading ski instructor, Sally Chapman to help boost confidence: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/snowandski/736961/Top-10-tips-for-nervous-skiers.html
And this more informative link: https://www.e4s.co.uk/docs/top-skiing-tips.htm