Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Skiing, at age two-and-three-quarters

I've been tagged by Kitty over at NY Portraits, and instead of doing the meme, this time I'll post a picture from my childhood. :)

This is my family when I was little. Yes, that's me in the green.

Yes, I started skiing when I was just a few months shy of my third birthday.

Dec 1979

Here's the original

Dec 1979 original

I have fond memories of piling into the family car with my dad and sisters, heading up the mountain to hit the slopes, with Neil Diamond's "Coming to America" blasting from the car stereo. We lived on the benches of the Wasatch Mountains and were just 15-20 minutes away from a handful of major ski resorts. Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird. Needless to say, we went skiing often. We learned the basics on the bunny hill at Snowbird, then graduated to the more difficult runs dotted up and down Little Cottonwood Canyon.

While in elementary school we mostly haunted the slopes at Solitude. They were closest and the least expensive of the resorts up the canyon. I have many fond memories going through the tree runs off to the side of Sesame Street (one of their most popular green runs).

I once got stuck under a gigantic pine tree after spectacularly crashing while skiing through the Sesame Street tree runs. I landed with a thwack against the snowy ground then slid down toward a tree trunk. My body slanting down, head toward the trunk, with skis up toward the trail, I wasn't injured, but was stuck. Immobolized, I thought I was going to die a cold and lonely death before anyone ever found me (most likely during the spring thaw). I cried for what seemed like hours, and no one answered my pleas for help.

Here' a fine work of art that I labored over for hours, that might help you visualize my predicament.

After realizing neither my sisters nor some good Samaritan was going to save me, and that I probably wasn't going to die right away, I managed to pull myself out from the pit and skied on to find my sisters waiting at the end of the run. They weren't too concerned about my near brush with death, and so after a few brief moments of making sure I wasn't bleeding anywhere, we were off to the next run.

As I grew older, we frequented Alta (my favorite, challenging trails and no snow boarders) and Park City Mountain Resort.

Things I love about skiing: the crunch of snow beneath your boots or skis, crisp air, brisk breezes; the smell of grilled hamburgers and fries as you ski past the restaurants perched half-way up the mountain; the wind as it rushes past your face as you fly down the mountain and the rushing sound that fills your ears; the solitude and pervasive peace that claims you as you carve your way down a wide slope or narrow cat track, and how silence presses in when there are not many people on the slopes; the feeling of freedom; the fun camaraderie of friends and family as you try new tricks or trails; the accomplishment I feel when I'm practicing proper technique; or the happiness I feel when I get over my jitteryness from the first run of the season and finally feel comfortable flying down the slopes, knees bending, snow shushing, and muscle memory returning.

But before I get carried away, let me say that I'm a scaredie cat (spelling?) at heart, that I'd rather take a nice blue run over a couple of black diamonds any day. That I almost passed out (complete with tunnel vision, dizziness, and tears) while peering off a drop-off in a snow storm so bad you couldn't see 15 feet in front of you. What did I do? Why I sat down and scooted my way half-way down the hill on my rear-end (much to the chagrin of my brother who won't ever let me live that moment down). You see, I ruined the fresh powder for all those who came after me...

So there you have it, me and the slopes. Fond memories and good times, too bad childhood doesn't last forever.

Do you ski?



  1. Oh, you almost make me want to take up skiing again! Am I the one on the right or the left? I'm thinking the right. Boy was I short for a 6 year old.

    My kids are starting to forget about snow. They asked if we could go "visit" the snow this year. I remember when we first moved to CA how funny it was when people talked about going to "the snow". Now, I understand.

    I can hardly wait until your next installment. I don't know where any of my childhood pics are (maybe in mom's attic?). You did such a good job restoring this one. Hopefully, by the time I find mine, they aren't too damaged. I think they are in an old paper bag.

    Oh, and I remember falling into a similar tree--a few times actually. But I also remember that run. Good times!

  2. I always was tall, don't feel so badly. You're the one on the far right, The Expat is standing next to me.

    Considering your boys experienced several hard winters in Minnesota and Michigan, it is a little funny that they talk about "visiting" the snow. lol

  3. Perhaps, in commemoration of that long-ago near-fatal ski trip, you should change your blog header to "I-M-Bitter-Cold" for the day? Just a thought.... ; )

  4. I. M. Bitter-Cold, . a story of how I almost perished one day, high up in the tops of the mountains

  5. MaLu... you are such a good writer! I loved reading this entry. I sooo need... want to ski this year!!! We need to schedule a winter when we will all be here. Set up sitters and go skiing! How about the next sibling day! Except I think our husbands would want to come! I love the picture!

  6. Sitter?!? I don't need no stinkin' sitter... You should go when The Expats are in town, I'm sure they'll want to hit the slopes. :) (I won't be home this winter)

  7. Yeah, I remember last time I got a siter (Laramie) and went. I couldn't get my bindings to fit right and ended up facing the hill unexpectedly a few times--you know the move I'm talking about? The one where you hit a curve you weren't expecting and those unused ski muscles turn to mush and your skiis just end up wherever the heck the snow takes them!

    Spread eagle against the mountain was un-fun! So, I think I'll get in shape a bit before I join you on the slopes.

  8. Melissa, I could totally feel the snow under my feet as I read your post. Also flooding back are the anxious moments and racing heartbeat prior to getting off of the chairlift. And, the smell of the fierce wind as it blazes its way past you when you are up on the summit - I love that smell of pure, clean, cool air. Oh, and the way you feel when you jump and your ski falls off mid-air and you totally face plant and it knocks the wind out of you for a good while - and your sunglasses get packed with snow both on the inside and outside. Meanwhile as you pull yourself together your family is saying "good one!" "Ten points!" "Come on, hurry, let's get in line again." This of course is a recollection of one of the ONLY times I ever fell on the slopes : )

    Emily - You absolutely crack me up! I can relate, however, because I am feeling oh-so-out-of-shape right now and it's been at least 7-9 years since I've been strapped to a pair of skis. Oh, and something to put the fear into my workout routine (non-existent at the moment) is that dad mentioned that he might come up in Jan to visit while we are in UT...and we could go skiing. Yipes! Do those skills really come back?