One of my goals for my time living in Mammoth this season for 3 months was to broaden my skill set and learn to ski. I've been snowboarding for years, and have gotten very current snowboarding a ton this year. Two months in, I'm finally getting comfortable, and so it's been tough finding the time and desire to rent a set of skis and go try it.
When our friends Shazza and Mike came up for a visit and Shazza expressed interest in learning to ski, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to be out of my comfort zone right along side her.
Turns out: Skiing is Hard!
I now realize that my impression of skiing all these years is that it's far easier than snowboarding and that I would have no problem learning. While it may be true that most people can pick up skiing a little more quickly than snowboarding, I found it incredibly challenging to break the snowboarding habits. What do you mean I have to constantly be keeping my legs next to each other?
On my first run I got the turns down and was able to snake slowly down the hill. It was fun! I had no idea what to do with the poles in my hands though.
I didn't fall until I got back into the lift line and was just standing there doing nothing. That seems to be when I'm most vulnerable! Once I was on the ground and had stopped laughing, I discovered the hardest part of skiing: getting up off the ground! It took me 5 attempts to stand up. The boots are like cement blocks, and in order to get my weight over my feet I had to be in a position that caused my hips to cramp. This was a great motivator not to fall again. Too bad it didn't work.
Mine and Nick's roommate Michael was our teacher and he was the perfect blend of patient and fun. There wasn't a single moment where he was anything but gracious of our learning and I'm so grateful for that.
Shazza was doing great for her very first time on the slopes. She was pretty nervous but picked it up right away and was successfully stopping and turning within two runs. A bonafide pizza master!
She only held a death grip on the chair lift for the first time and managed to never fall getting off. It was special to witness her get far out of her comfort zone, officially become a skier, and open a whole new world of opportunity up.
I truly felt I was doing well on the bunny slope and so was Shazza, so we took off on chair 1 to try a significantly longer intermediate run. It may or may not have taken us an entire hour to ski back down. The increase in steepness spooked Shazza, and the increase in run length exhausted us all. It hadn't even occurred to me that you can't just easily sit down and rest on skis the way you can on a board. We took a nice long rest afterward complete with cocktails.
After the rest, Shazza and Mike went snowmobiling and I went back up chair 1 with Nick. Because we were going a little faster and I wasn't having to pause as much to wait for Shazza, I became ridiculously fatigued so much faster. I had a couple of shitty falls, one where I did the splits while trying to catch myself from falling. After the two runs it was clear to me that I was simply too worn out to ski anymore, and probably should have called it quits when they did.
Next time I ski it will be when I'm fresh, and only for a few hours. I have a desire to get proficient in order to volunteer with the Disabled Sports Program at Mammoth. Now that I've tried it, I know I have a long way to go.