Saturday, January 24, 2009

Old Dog - New Tricks? You bet!

I started skiing 30 years ago and yesterday I learned how to ski.

After all this time on snow I consider myself a decent skier. I can make my way down any black diamond, I can pick my way through a mogul field or a glade, and I can move right along at pretty good speeds while maintaining control. I don't know what "level" skier I am. I had never taken a lesson prior to attending my first Women's Alpine Adventure program three years ago.

There's always room for improvement but I honestly didn't think there were any more epiphanies in store for me with this sport. As an eastern double-planker, I don't get much practice in real powder, so there's potential there. I'd like to feel more confident in the bumps and glades - but these creaky old knees have seen better days. Overall, I just wanted to feel less fearful in conditions and situations that placed me beyond my comfort zone. I just want skiing to be fun - no matter what.

Mission Accomplished!

It was during last week's two-day, intensive Women's Alpine Adventures program that I took my skiing to an entirely new level. Learning how to really get up on the edges of my skis to fully carve my turns allowed me to experience a euphoric sense of weightlessness that is more addictive than Dove Promises. I first recognized the feeling during an exercise that our instructor, Laurie had us doing. Then, once I figured out how to repeat it on the big carving turns, I started applying the same technique to small radius turns and it felt like I was flying! I'm sure there's a scientific explanation for it all - physics, gravity and mass versus inertia or some other mumbo jumbo that I wouldn't begin to understand. I just know that at some point during each turn, it felt like I was defying gravity - like my legs didn't belong to me and that there was some magical force at work beneath me. WOW!

What a great program! There were five women in our group and we all skied at a similar level, so we were all working toward similar goals. We weren't all there for the same reasons, but we all wanted to become better skiers. It's amazing how quickly bonds form under such circumstances. We skied together, we rode chairlifts together, we ate meals together. We shared laughter, frustrations and accomplishments together. We offered support to one another and compliments passed freely between us. We picked each other up - physically and metaphorically.
Laurie had us skiing through glades and bump runs more comfortably. We each took our turns running gates. We practiced "railroad tracks" and "garlands" and "falling leaves." We mastered "cowboy turns" and "shin-tongue."
Thank you to all the women in my group: Jenn, Helen, Tina (not Rita!) and Rebeca. Thank you, Laurie Cobb. Thank you, Maria and all the women of the WAA WAA sisterhood. I am an athlete. I am a skier. Cheers!

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