I told my friend Patty I was headed off to Vermont to learn to ski. "And you are doing this, why?" was her immediate and not particularly surprising reaction. It's a perfectly legitimate question, given my advanced age -- 57.9 -- and my well-deserved reputation as The World's Biggest Klutz™. My friend's concern certainly makes sense. There are new frontiers I could explore that involve far less risk, ways to challenge myself that do not invite grievous bodily harm. Pursuits like scrapbooking, or oenology, or bridge come immediately to mind. But, as I noted in another recent blog post, and as my mother will point out to this day, I have ants-in-my-pants, what the Jews like to call "shpilkes." This abundance of nervous energy is best managed with physical exertion combined with extreme concentration. Learning to ski is an almost perfect match for someone like me. In the interest of full disclosure, I have actually been on skis before. Years ago, when hair was big and real women wore shoulder pads, I bundled up my children, drove to Sugarloaf and enrolled them in pre-school ski-school. Within minutes they were skittering and sliding down the mountain, making pizza shapes with their skis, grins as wide as a mountain pass. What they learned in their first lesson, I never really figured out.
My first mistake was putting my instruction in the hands of a sadist masquerading as a friend. No sooner had I strapped on my skis, which were way taller than I am and about 2.5 inches wide -- this was the 80s if you recall -- then I found myself at the top of the mountain on a slope marked with a couple of ink-black diamond shapes. Graphically emphatic, to be sure, but meaningless to a novice like myself. I quickly discovered the diamond hard reality of the slope and for what seemed to be an eternity, but was probably more like an hour, I made my way slowly toward the bottom. Mostly on my bottom. My progress went something like this: point skis toward lodge, close eyes, slide, fall, sob. Point, close, slide, fall, sob. Point, close, slide, fall, sob -- making my inexorable, humiliating journey ever downward.
After that first attempt, my heart was never really in it. My children continued to improve. I even went back with them a couple of times. Luckily because of my diminutive stature, clever costuming and my steadfast refusal to leave the bunny slope, I easily passed for a uniquely uncoordinated tween. As tiny little humans whizzed by me making disrespectful gestures and muttering for me to get out of the way, I never got much beyond the "point, close, slide, fall, sob" stage. OK, I did lose the sob, but other than that, it was more of the same.
Flash forward 18 years. During that time I have been passionately involved in fitness. I run, I hike, I swim, I snowshoe. I love to be outside. I love to be active. And I continue to harbor a nagging envy of my skiing friends. Living in Maine, that can be defined as just about everyone I know.
And then, as if by divine intervention, Cabot Creamery and SkiVermont decided to promote Learn to Ski month by sending 5 women bloggers of all ages and their BFFs to learn to ski or snowboard. They plan take all of us from novice to confident skier or boarder over the course of two days and three lessons. Ten of us will meet this Friday at Sugarbush Ski Resort for a Girlfriend Getaway of epic proportions.
So I'm madly borrowing ski pants and neck warmers, goggles and mittens, arming -- and dressing -- myself for an adventure in the Mad River Valley. I'll let you know, step by agonizing step, how I progress.
Can you really teach an old dog new tricks? You bet your ass you can.