It was a wicked winter that year. Lots of ice and snow. More ice than snow actually. A group of us planned a long weekend ski trip to Sugarbush. My mother thought I was crazy. Hadn’t I seen enough snow without heading to Vermont? Ha! This would be fun snow.
Snow I didn’t have to shovel. Snow in which I wouldn’t experience a hellish commute.
I hitched a ride with the instigator of the trip. He had a truck with 4-wheel drive. I offered to split the cost of gas. He declined and countered that I could pay for food and drink along the drive.
He neglected to mention that he was a hobbit masquerading as human. We stopped at least 6 times on the way up and he required food at every stop.
Gas would have been cheaper.
I am not an expert skier. This would be the second ski experience of my life and I didn’t plan on skiing every day. It’s not only that I feel like Frankenstein walking in ski boots and I didn‘t own the proper clothing or equipment, but that I cannot make tight turns and on the amateur slope there are just too many people for me to meander freely down the mountain in my wide graceful turns. Instead, I literally race down the mountain at very high speed, turning only as necessary to avoid a collision.
To some, the tremendous adrenaline rush would be exhilarating. To me, the adrenaline rush shaves 10 years from my lifespan. Therefore, one or two days of downhill is sufficient adventure for me.
It was an Olympics year (“There will be no dying on the ice.”), so some evenings we would watch the events of the day. The skiers’ speeds evoked comments that I could probably compete with them. We all laughed. They thought I was a daredevil, fearless. They had no clue that when flying down the mountain I’m screaming to myself “Turn, dammit! If you fall at this speed you will break every bone in your body!”
At the height of the weekend there were 13 of us – of various skiing expertise. The experts headed for the mountain early every morning. They were thrilled to find they could even ski through the trees from the mountain to the back of the townhouse we rented. The rest of us planned other activities for the complete winter getaway feeling, including snowmobiling, ice skating, snowball fights, making angels in the snow and checking out Ben & Jerry’s along with the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. We were content to be amateurs in pursuit of fun, not olympic medals. Some of us would have liked to scout out more antiques since almost everyone drove up in a truck…
One day some of us planned to try cross-country skiing. The Hobbit could teach us. While it was zero degrees every day we were there, on that day, the wind chill factor was increasing every ten minutes. Once the temp hit 20 below, we told The Hobbit if he didn‘t get dressed in 60 seconds we were staying inside in front of the fire and he could ski alone.
Off to Blueberry Lake we went where I could ski at a relaxing pace without Frankenstein boots.
I have never fallen while in motion skiing downhill. Must be the fear that keeps me upright. And I can expertly stop. So it was quite comical that I shushed, shushed and then went splat! face down in the snow on cross-country skis. After the third splat!, The Hobbit (once he stopped laughing), suggested perhaps additional wax on the skis would help. We weren’t the only ones with the idea of a Nordic ski day. Another group arrived just after us and apparently the rental guy was so overwhelmed calculating revenue dollars that he had forgotten to wax my skis.
Once my skis were properly waxed, I was off expertly shushing along the trails.
There was one hill that had a sharp turn at the bottom. It was a baby hill (far grander and more fun are at High Point State Park – wheeee!), but I found one of my companions had fallen at the bottom.
I started down, hit the same patch of ice and went splat! face in the snow again. Another skier on the trails saw me go down and called out “I give it a six!”
Only a six? Surely a full frontal deserved at least an eight!
Then Mr. Downhill Expert arrived – the mountain having been closed due to wind and low visibility conditions. “Ladies,” he announced, “let me show you how it’s done.” (Roll the eyes.)
He hit the ice.
Arms, legs, skis and poles went flying up and whooft, he landed on his back.
We gave it a three. It was an utterly graceless fall.
And I think he screamed.
On the drive home, we made a stop so that I could buy my own Nordic gear. There was still plenty of winter left and now I’d be able to ski to the store for emergency wine rations in the next nor’easter.
I’ll be rooting for the Jamaican bobsled team this year. A sport I have no intention of ever trying.