Soon after we married, my husband Ralph decided it would be a fun activity for us to go skiing. I had never been on skis before, but the thought of learning to ski intrigued me.
I was teaching at the time and one day in the teacher’s lounge I mentioned that Ralph would like me to learn to ski. One of my friends immediately told me she was getting a new set of skis for Christmas and I could have her old ones. I picked the skis up after school that day and drove home.
I was excited to show Ralph what I was given. There was no way now that I could say I didn’t want to ski.
One weekend we packed up our newly acquired skiing attire and headed north to a ski lodge in Traverse City, Mich., called Timberlee. It was a three-hour drive from where we lived. It was a beautiful day and I marveled at the beauty of the snow and the surrounding countryside.
I couldn’t believe I was actually going skiing! I was excited and didn’t think that skiing could be that difficult. I had always caught on quickly. I had good balance. All I needed was to learn how to buckle my boots, secure them on the skis, use the ski pole to help me up and learn how to “snow plow,” so I could stop. Ralph had been skiing before and was teaching me what I needed to know about skiing through verbal instructions in the car.
We arrived at our destination. Ralph paid for the entrance fees and the needed equipment. I saw all the people skiing. I saw the ski lift and the people lined up to go up to the top of the hills. I saw the beginner’s hill with all the little children. That is where we headed.
Ralph helped me put my ski boots on and attached me and the boots to the skis. I used my ski poles to steady myself and began to walk with the skis. After I had learned how to walk, rather awkwardly, Ralph showed me the technique of “snowplowing.” This was extremely important for it helped in slowing down and stopping.
“We’ll begin by going down the smallest and less steep hill. Once you feel comfortable skiing down it, we will try a larger hill. All you have to do is to follow me. Do exactly what I am doing,” Ralph said confidently.
I actually did pretty well on the small hill. I never felt very comfortable or that I knew what I was doing, but I was a good sport and made Ralph believe I was a fast learner.
It wasn’t long before Ralph said, “I think you are ready for a larger hill.”
I really was hesitant, but again, Ralph reassured me that all I had to do was to follow him. He was going to go slow, go back and forth, do some snowplowing and make sure I would stop when he stopped.
We headed for a larger hill. He was in front of me and when we were at the top, I looked down and realized it was a long way down to the bottom of the hill! I saw where the ski lift was and a line of people waiting to get on the lift.
Before I could say, “I don’t want to go down!” Ralph shouted, “Follow me!” He started slowly down the hill.
I began my journey. I did follow Ralph. We were slowly snowplowing down the hill. Then suddenly my skis straightened out and I began to go faster. I yelled to Ralph, “Look out!” I quickly passed him by and realized I couldn’t slow down. I kept going faster and faster. I was like a professional downhill racer! The line of people at the bottom of the hill, unaware they may be plowed down at any minute, looked up and saw I was heading directly towards them. Now I know I shouldn’t say I was laughing, but I was. As I got closer to these innocent people, I yelled as loud as I could, “GET OUT OF THE WAY! I CAN’T STOP!” I could see them trying to move, but it was rather difficult as they had skis to deal with. I’m sure they were scared and shocked. Luckily, everyone scurried away out of the line of fire, and I missed hitting anyone. I ended up in a field that was beyond the ski lift. At that time I used my new technique of snowplowing and was able to stop.
Ralph saw everything that was happening to me. I’m sure he must have thought that as he saw me heading into the field, at that speed, he might never find me again. However, he skied into the field where I was and asked it I was okay. I looked at him and couldn’t stop laughing, “I did it! I skied down a big hill!”
This skiing event did not stop us from going again. Each time we went I was faced with a new challenge. Fun memories!
Adele A. Roberts, of Oliver Springs, is the author of “The Adventures of Sammy the Skunk,” available at sammytheskunk.blogspot.com and she can be contacted at [email protected]