Variations on Extreme Skiing

Variations on Extreme SkiingI always assumed that I’d be good at snow skiing. I do that a lot; I assume I’ll be good at something without any reason to think so. I always thought I’d be good at driving race cars, and so far I’d give myself an A. So skiing shouldn’t be too much different. All the same, I decided to take a ski class before venturing onto the slopes. I found a good ski area, called to check all the details, and left early in the morning so that I could make it there in the 8am to 9am window for ski school signup. 8:15AM, I was 5 miles away from the Loveland ski area.

“Here’s your morning traffic report. Avalanche work has I-70 at the Eisenhower tunnel closed, all traffic is being diverted to the Loveland Bypass so expect a delay there…”

8am on a Monday, how many people could be going skiing, really? An hour and three miles later, I had decided that there were way too many people going skiing on a Monday. Don’t these people have jobs? So I sat patiently, enjoying the mountain views and the smell of my clutch, and seriously considering using the snow toilet that some fellow traveler had sculpted in the median.

Two hours and 5 miles later I arrived at the ski area. 10:20, not only had I missed ski school signup, it had already started. I had been skiing once before, it was about 1994 I think, and I had spent all my time on the bunny slope.

Also, I had recently watched an episode of South Park where the kids went skiing. I had picked up a few things: to slow down, you wedge your skis out like a slice of pizza, to go fast you put them parallel like a couple french fries, and if you french fry when you’re supposed to pizza, you’re gonna have a bad time.

How hard could it be? So I rented some ski equipment, bought my lift ticket and got on the lift to the “easy way down” slope. These lifts are kind of scary, I always expected there to be a bar to hold you in like a roller coaster, but no, it’s just a chair dangling 40 feet off the ground. So I sat down, slid over to one side and grabbed the rail.

“Hey, you gotta sit in the middle bro!” the guy behind me yelled. Sit in the middle, they probably teach you that in ski school. This particular ski lift had a reload area about a third of the way up that had a big slow ski area with a short slope to the bottom. Awesome, a perfect place for me to practice my pizza and french fries. I’ll get off there. Wait, is reload the same as unload? No, it is in fact not.

So there I am, on top of the tallest mountain in the known universe, looking down at all these skiers and snow boarders mocking me with their “I went to ski school” attitudes. All right, I can do this. On 3. 1, 2….

30 seconds later, flying down the hill at twice the speed of sound, I was doing all I could to slow down. My Pizza slice had turned into a quarter of a pizza, then half a pizza, then somehow a whole pizza. Flailing my ski poles around and screaming like a little girl, I nailed a tree at around a thousand miles an hour, somehow creating a giant explosion, causing avalanches from every direction to bury all the other skiers and the entire ski area.

Back at the top of the mountain I snapped back to reality. I had stopped counting at 2. I know myself well enough to know that if I think about something for more than a few seconds, I won’t do it. I had blown 4 on that speed of sound/exploding avalanche thing, so it was now or never. 30 seconds later I was pizzad out, going what seemed like 30 mph but was probably closer to 5. I learned quickly that you can pizza all you want, but if you’re pointed straight down the mountain, you will still be going pretty fast. They probably teach you that in ski school.

Slowly, I started skiing back and forth, zigzagging my way down the slope. I noticed that I wasn’t the only bad skier on the mountain; there were a few others that were having trouble balancing and skiing. Of course they were all 12 years old but hey, at least I wasn’t the only one. Near the end, I decided to go a little faster. Pointing straight down a gentle slope I french fried towards the bottom. I remember watching the Olympics and noticing that when the skiers get to the bottom, they kicked their skis sideways and slowed down like that. Having made it nearly all the way down the mountain without falling, I was feeling pretty sure of myself and decided to give it a try. I’m not sure exactly what happened, suffice it to say it didn’t work out well. I did stop, though.
After a couple more times down the easy slope, with a few short tries on the intermediate slopes, I decided to take a lift that only served intermediate and expert slopes. When I got to the top, I picked a neat sounding slope, Zip Trail, and took it. It was a fun trail, and very easy. “I wonder why it’s labeled ‘more difficult’ if it’s so easy.” I thought to myself. Well, as it turns out, it’s because when it ends, you have two choices. One is a black diamond trail (most difficult) and one is a ski lift to the top of a mountain where there are no slopes and it is only labeled with two black diamonds and the initials “EX”, which I believe stand for “you’re gonna die”.

I decided to take the singe black diamond trail. It was labeled with a warning, something about how I was gonna die, and a sign that had only a black diamond and the word “Face”. I guessed it meant face, like the face of the mountain or a rock face. Of course it also could have meant your face is going to be buried in the snow, or your face will hit a tree. I suggest these latter two things because within about 50 feet both of them happened to me. During my third fall, I inadvertently invented a new sport which I decided to call ass-skiing. Actually, since it was on a black diamond, it’s extreme ass-skiing.

I made it the rest of the way down with a combination of falling, climbing, and ass-skiing (ahem, extreme ass-skiing). Falling down the hill like an idiot, I was passed by a 12 year old. Damn kids with their MTV and their extreme foot-skiing. I thought to myself.

I spent the rest of the day on the easier stuff, practicing slowing down and other stuff they probably teach you in ski school. It was a fun experience and I recommend it to everyone. Of course, my recommendation comes with the suggestion that the learning curve and the bruises may be diminished with some tutelage. Maybe I’ll go back soon and try snowboarding, but only if I can get there in time to take a class. I’m not sure how to pizza with a snowboard.

Variations on Extreme Skiing

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