Downhill Adventures: Present

These first two months of the year have passed by in a whirlwind. We’re almost in March and I haven’t even realized that February had time to come and go. I’m 2 weeks away from turning 28 and I can’t believe I’ve already spent a year at 27. I hadn’t been skiing in at least 6 years, my husband had never skied in his life, and suddenly, on a whim, we went skiing in January. And since then, he’s been itching to go again – unfortunately weather and other factors have made that impossible so far, but hopefully we’ll go again soon!

In the meantime, here are a few words and photos about our first time skiing together (and just overall first time on the slopes for my husband!).

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As I mentioned in my earlier post about skiing, I ski, I don’t snowboard. I went from normal skis to snow blades, but it is still skiing. I have never tried snowboarding. Maybe someday I will, but I’m not so sure. There’s just something about having both of my feet stuck on one board that just worries me. Oddly enough, however, what scares me about snowboarding is what reassured my husband: he preferred the idea of having his 2 feet on one board and thought it was disconcerting to have them on 2 separate ones. I was very amused by our complete opposite views on that and also impressed that he was brave enough to try it out. He just threw himself right into his snowboarding lesson, and thank goodness he did. He loved every second of it. He even surprised his instructor by picking everything up so quickly, really being at ease on the snowboard and hardly falling throughout our hours of snow fun.

While he continued his lesson, I took a lesson of my own. Sure, I had skied nearly every year for most of my life, but it had been at least 6 years since the last time I was on the slopes, and this was a totally new place for me. Having an instructor for the first hour turned out to be really great as it let me find my ski groove again, get some helpful tips on my form and relax my nerves too. I was definitely nervous after so many years without skiing, but it was a wonderful feeling to ski again. It was freeing and invigorating. It was so much fun to go down a few slopes with my husband and to share those feelings with him. It was great to watch him snowboard and see him be so natural at it. Watching the exhilarating joy he felt coming down the slopes reminded me of what I loved about skiing, and what I had missed these past years.

What I love most about skiing is the feeling of freedom when you’re gliding down the slopes. It’s that peacefulness of forgetting everyone around you, just hearing the sounds of the snow crunching under your blades, the sun warming your face and sparkling on the snow crystals. It’s also the sense of accomplishment at the end of a day of skiing; the gratifying feel of tired muscles after a hard day of play. The accompanying serenity of a day of fresh air and the peaceful happiness it provides. It’s an indescribable feeling, and it’s beautiful.

And I know my husband felt it too that day.

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Downhill Adventures: Past

When I was a kid, we went skiing as often as we could and we were all taught to ski as soon as possible. For a long time I wasn’t really a big fan of skiing. I felt awkward and stiff on my skis, I hated going to lessons (I liked it better when dad taught us), and my fingers and toes were always cold. Besides, where we often skied those first years there was more ice than snow, and I had some bad experiences. Even to this day whenever I hit a patch of ice I feel irrational panic and fear. I’m always afraid I’ll lose control and end up tumbling down the rest of the slope.

Over the years, my relationship with skiing changed and I found moments of pleasure. There were several things that played a role in that. First of all, we actually skied on real slopes of snow, not hills of ice – it’s amazing the difference proper powdery snow can make. Secondly, we moved to Europe – skiing in the Alps takes the experience to a whole new level. It’s breathtaking in a way too amazing to put in words. Third, and extremely important, the way skis were made changed. Skis used to be long and skinny, and were meant to be your height or taller. That’s a lot of ski to try controlling and maneuvering. When they modified them over time, they were curved, rounded – and meant to be shorter than you – and so much easier to maneuver. They were made to carve the snow, to make those turns in the snow. Ok, it doesn’t mean I was suddenly amazing or in love with skiing, but it certainly helped improve my opinion and experience of skiing.

But then something happened. I experienced a joy and a freedom I had never felt before when skiing. This changed my outlook on skiing forever. I tried snow blades. For those who don’t know what they are, they are simply shorter skis. As in, half the size of regular skis. And to me, they were pure bliss. My dad let my try his, and after one slope I was hooked. There was no going back. Less length to be hassled with, no poles (I hate ski poles – no idea why, I just do); pure freedom on the slopes like I had never felt before. I had so much more control and I was tearing down those slopes. I was confident, something I rarely was when skiing. More importantly and surprisingly, I was blissfully and completely happy.

Here’s the ironic part. We normally went skiing every year for a week, during the ski break in France. I used the snow blades for 1 or 2 years, and then my university schedule didn’t match up with my brother’s school vacation, and I haven’t been skiing in probably 6-7 years. I had finally found the joy in skiing and I hardly got to bask in it. I used to be the least excited about going skiing, and I didn’t really miss it in-between trips, but these past years I’ve definitely had moments when I missed that feeling of pure freedom as you fly down the slopes.

Although that now leads me to finish this post, it also allows me to introduce my next post, where I’ll share my most recent downhill adventure: first time skiing with my husband. Sure, I didn’t have my snow blades and it wasn’t the Alps, but it was a beautiful, fun and invigorating day. We definitely made a lot of wonderful memories – but more on that next time…

2013 is definitely off to a good start.