Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Catherine Goes Skiing - Part II

So the last time we talked, I told you about Day 1 of my harrowing skiing adventure.  If you haven't had a chance to read it, go ahead and click here to read it first.  Don't worry we'll wait for you . . .

Oh good - you're back!  Let's continue!

My last post left off with me swearing that I would never ski again but then Hannah convincing me to try it again.  She was just POSITIVE that she could teach me to love skiing.

Silly Hannah.

So, against my better judgment, we headed out to the slopes for Day 2 of my skiing adventure.  Hannah decided to take me up in the gondola to the top of a green slope that she thought would be manageable for me.  On the way up, I marveled at the beauty of the mountains around me.  And how high we were going.  And how we weren't stopping.  And how there is no way that a green slope could be up this high without being a sheer drop.  AndhowohmygoshholycowI'mnotreadyforthisandhowdareHannahbetraymebytakingmeupthishigh!!

[breathe]

I looked at Hannah and smiled, putting on my sunglasses so she wouldn't see the terror in my eyes.  And I did what I always do - I threw out a joke to ease my nerves: "Will you let me take crying breaks on the green slope."  We laughed and laughed and laughed.

Fast forward 15 minutes and I'm crying at the top of a green slope.

Actually.  Crying.

Poor Hannah did her best to hide the terror in HER eyes.  She tried to teach me how to stop so that I could stop when I wanted to.  But I wasn't great at it.  She wanted me to ski toward her so that I could practice it.  But I was afraid of careening out of control, flying off the side of the mountain, and plummeting to my bloody death.  She wanted me to have confidence in myself.  But I was a 37-year-old woman crying at the top of a dang green slope.

I was a hopeless case.

Eventually, I was able to "ski" toward her.  And by "ski" I mean, move 3 feet and then fall down.  Now you need to understand that it is absolutely impossible for me to stand up in skis.  Some people can do it.  I can't.  I try to contort my body around so that I can get my feet underneath me.  But the skis invariably get tangled up or stuck in the snow.  When people see that I can't do it on my own, they offer me a hand.  "Here, grab my hand.  I'll help you up," they say.  But I can't do this, either.  Because I still can't get my feet under me.  And, on the odd chance that I do, my skis start trying to ski away and suddenly I'm on my back again wondering why the HECK people enjoy this stupid sport.  So when I fall, I just take my skis off and stand up.  Like a pro.  So when I skied toward Hannah and fell, she helped me get my skis off and stand up.  Then I got my skis on again and Hannah tried to encourage me to ski toward her again.  This time, there was an older man who was a few feet behind Hannah waiting on someone.  He watched the pitiful scene in front of him and, I guess, took an interest because he started coaching me, too.  So I skied toward Hannah and my new coach.  And fell.

This time when I fell, I fell with my knees up so that I was laying on my skis.  This is the WORST position because you can't sit up or stand up to get off your skis and you can't get your skis out from under you to take them off.  Normally in this situation, I would depend on other people helping me to roll over like a slug so that they could help me get my skis off.  But, unfortunately, in some strange turn of events, I had ended up on top of Hannah's skis and my new coach's skis.  So they tried to wiggle their skis out from under me while I laid their helplessly, praying for an avalanche to end my misery.

Eventually, they both got their skis freed, got mine out from under me, and helped me get my skis off so that I could stand up.  Then my new coach bailed, wishing me luck.

But poor Hannah was stuck.

But something had happened in that last fall.  Perhaps it had knocked some confidence into me.  I don't know how but somehow I finally understood the snow plow/wedge/pizza wedge that my ski instructor had been trying to teach me.  You know - where you put your skis into a wedge shape to control your speed as you learn.  I hadn't mastered it yet but, suddenly, at the top of that green slope, it clicked.  So I skied a few feet in the wedge and DIDN'T FALL!  It was so exciting!!  I asked Hannah if I could just do that for a while until I got comfortable with it.  So that's what I did.

And sweet, patient Hannah skied right along side me.  While I did the snow plow.

FOR TWO AND A HALF HOURS.

Luckily, Hannah was there with her video camera to capture some of this action-packed, fast-paced afternoon.  Notice how the trees just fly by . . .

video

Look - laugh all you want.  This was my own personal X-games. 

But eventually, my knees had had enough and the bottom of the green slope was just far enough away that I began to fear that my knee caps and my ACL would give me the finger and jump ship.  So I made the decision to throw in the towel, take my skis off, and walk to the bottom of the slope.  Hannah was really sweet about it but I knew it must have been a disappointment to her - she really wanted me to like skiing and thought she could help me accomplish that.  But I was done.

So I took my skis off and began walking.  For about 2 minutes.  That's when a Steamboat Ambassador skied up next to me and we had this conversation:

Ambassador: Hey!  You're doing it wrong!  You're supposed to put those on your feet and slide!
Me: [courtesy laugh] Oh is THAT how you do it?  [pause for laugh]
Ambassador: [smile, no laugh]
Me: [okay - tough crowd!] Well, I'm terrible at this and my knee is hurting me so I figured I'd just walk the rest of the way.
Ambassador: Oh!  [confused look] So are you INJURED?
Me: [is he being sarcastic?] No - not injured.  It's just hurting and I'm uncomfortable so I'm gonna walk.
Ambassador: Because if you're injured, I could get you a ride . . .
Me: [No!  I'm not injured, okay?  I'm just a quitter!  A BLOODY BLOODY QUITTER!!] Oh no - that's okay.  I think I can walk.
[Ski rescue guy skis up, pulling a stretcher-like apparatus behind him]
Ski rescue guy: Need a ride to the bottom?
Me: No - it's -
Ambassador: Yeah.  She's injured.  Knee.
Ski rescue guy: Okay!  Well, let's get you down the slope and to the lift!
Ambassador: Yeah.  He's gonna take you down to the lift and then when you get to the top of the lift, we'll have a snow mobile waiting for you.  [to Hannah] You can just meet her at the lift.

So I climbed onto the little stretcher-thingy and the guy belted me in.  I bid adieu to Hannah and what was left of my pride and I took off with my new ski rescue boyfriend:


And HO.  LY.  COW.  That was the most terrifying part of my entire skiing experience.  That guy skied FAST and if he had an option between a steep slope and a gradual slope, he picked the steep slope every time.  I prepared for death and thought it was only fitting that my ski trip should end with me flying off the side of a mountain strapped onto a stretcher. 

But, fortunately, we did NOT die.  Instead, I got to the lift and met Hannah there.  We got in line and then got on the lift and began our journey back to the top of the mountain.  But the lift posed a problem.  You see - to get OFF the lift, you actually have to SKI.  So, as we approached the top, Hannah tried to coach me through it: "When your skis hit the snow, just stand up and ski forward.  It's super easy.  You can do it!"

Silly Hannah.

As soon as I stood up, my arms began flailing, I grunted inexplicably, my skis went up in the air, and the rest of me went backward.  My head hit the ice so hard that I was sure I had lost some brain matter.  Or, at the very least, had a concussion.  I heard the lift stop - a sound I had become all too familiar with.  And then I heard the lift operator come up behind me and say "I'm going to lift you up."  Yet another person who didn't understand my inability to pull myself up with skis on.  I began my usual protestations, trying to explain to him that I wasn't talented enough to stand up in my skis, but before I could explain anything, he lifted me completely up off the snow and onto my skis.  Like a stinkin' rag doll.  All I was able to get out from the moment he said he was going to lift me was: "No, that's okay.  I can't - Oh my GOSH you're strong!  You are STRONG!  No, seriously - you are STROOOOOOONG."  He smiled and said "It's the called the Marines, ma'am."  And then he went back to start the lift up.  Meanwhile, I stood staring at him, mouthing "Call me" and wondering what the protocol is for proposing to a lift operator while in a concussed state. 

Then the snow mobile driver interrupted my wedding fantasy (which, of course, involved my Marine lifting me gratuitously) and introduced herself:

Andy: Hi!  I'm Andy!
Me: Hi!  Thank you so much for -
Andy: Are you injured?
Me: [Oh, for the LOVE OF -] No - my knee is hurting me so I'm walking and sooooooo . . .
Andy: [confused] So you're NOT injured.
Me: Nope. [awkward smile]
Andy: [shrugging shoulders] Okay!  Well, climb on!

I ignored the judgment in her voice and waved goodbye to my Marine fiancee, blowing him a kiss.  At least I think I blew him a kiss.  But, again, I'm pretty sure I had a concussion so I may have just drooled and grunted in his general direction.

Finally, after a terrifying snow mobile ride to the gondola, my ski experience came to an end.  Hannah and I relaxed, grabbed something warm for lunch, and, for some reason, she began quizzing me on what year it was and who the President was.

Silly Hannah.

Everyone knows Ronald W. Obama is President . . .