not ready for Success

Have I mentioned before in this space that I pretty much hate skiing? Yes. Yes, I have. More than once, actually. Take it from me: one should not learn to ski after one’s high school reunions hit the twenty-somethings. I waited too long. Plus I am a fraidy-lady.

We just got back from a family vacation in Deer Valley, Utah, a place which makes it about as easy to ski as it’s going to get. On our first morning there we could walk down the hall from our room right outside to our skis and boots, put them on, and ski down to the chair lift.

I didn’t do that, of course, because it involved skiing. Instead I clomped down three hundred steps in my vise-like concrete-block ski boots, carrying my skis and poles, to meet the rest of my family at the bottom of the mountain (just seven minutes after their arrival). My five-year-old went off to her ski school, “The Reindeer Club.” My husband and boys took off for the cliffiest cliff they could find. And I spent the morning white-knuckling it down the bunny slope with an instructor slack-jawed with disbelief.

INSTRUCTOR: Try having a little fun! You haven’t smiled at all yet.

ME: That’s cause I’m scared on the chair lifts.

INSTRUCTOR: You’re scared of THIS?

 terrifying chair lift

I will admit that in THIS PHOTO it appears that the “Snowflake Chair Lift” (which at the time was being utilized by my instructor, myself, and the aforementioned members of the Reindeer Club) basically takes you in a straight line. Up the mountain zero percent. I hasten to inform you that it goes two hundred feet in the air, thank you very much, and that it has absolutely no seatbelts.

I was almost at the top when my phone buzzed with my husband hastening to inform me that my second-grader had just skied his first black diamond.

After six hours with the instructor, I was able to turn (sort of), stop (eventually), and make it to the bottom of the bunny slope alive. For the last fifteen minute of those six hours, I may- MAY- have actually enjoyed myself, or at least patted myself on the back for how far I had come.

Which is when I reunited with my children. “Yay!” they shouted. “You’re ready to go down Success with us!”


Dead Man's Curve

SEAMUS: Mom! You’ll have so much more fun because the hill is way longer!

ME: Yeah, but sweetheart, I don’t want to ski longer. Every time I get to the bottom of the bunny slope I can’t believe I’m still alive.

CONNOR: You can do it, Mom!

Since I’m less sure of that, we all ride the Snowflake Chair Lift together for one trip down the bunny slope so those assembled can make sure I’m ready.  I put on my bravest game face.

me and connor on lift

On our brief ride:

ME: Connor, how many times did you ski before you stopped being afraid?

My son looks at me blankly.

CONNOR:  …I was never afraid.

Thanks for the talk.

We get to the top. The boys full-on slalom to the bottom, hockey-stop on a dime while I’m still willing myself to get started. Maggie careens down the hill at top speed, without fear, without POLES. (Membership in the Reindeer Club has its privileges.)

My whole family watches while I knock-knee my way down the hill sideways. The continents drift. New glaciers are formed. I reach the bottom and manage to stop right by my husband’s side, to my delighted relief. He smiles at me.

DAVID: Guess who’s ready to go down Success!

ME: Me?

DAVID: … Maggie.

Yup. Off to Success they all went without me, Seamus crying hot angry tears that I wouldn’t come. It broke my heart that he couldn’t understand my fear. But better for him he didn’t.

 So here’s my question. Should I keep at it? Might there be a point where I start enjoying myself? Will I ever be as good as my five-year-old? 


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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Judy @ Late Mommy February 24, 2013 at 3:51 pm

I must respectfully disagree with you. I was 43 the first time I skied and I did like it. However, I feel I must take a lesson each time we go and have not progressed much beyond the greens. I do understand the chair lift thing-that’s what scared me the most! Look at it as a big accomplishment, girl! Go for it!


The Tired Mother February 24, 2013 at 4:14 pm

You go girl! Who cares if you are “only on the greens?” They’re gorgeous, and it’s not a competition! The important thing is you are out in the fresh air and having fun!


amywlsn February 25, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Judy, if I became a confident green skier I would be thrilled! You give me hope.


The Tired Mother February 24, 2013 at 4:11 pm

DEFINITELY keep at it. You want your kids to enjoy themselves, and part of that is having you as an audience, NOT holed up in the lodge. As a former ski instructor/freestyle coach, I CAN tell you, that skiing is all mileage, not difficulty of the slopes. The more frequently you do it, the better you will get. Being that you are a New Yorker, I can tell you that your best bet is to go to Ski Windham, rather than Hunter MT (because Hunter is like trying to ski in Times Square), and you are more likely to go there than, say Killington, even thought the terrain is better. You’ll be glad to know that they have safety bars on the lifts. And their staff there is great. Wherever you go, insist on a Level Two instructor. They will know what that means (it has to do the ability of the instructor to teach, as well as the overall quality of instruction) Make sure when you sign up for the lesson that you tell them of your fears, and they will assign someone who will help you to enjoy it. The other mistake beginners make is to think about going DOWN the mountain. You are a beginner…go ACROSS. As with anything from a height…if you look down, you’re going to be afraid, and fear jeopardizes control. Plot your route across, and you’ll not only stay more in control of your speed, but you won’t be looking down into an abyss. Don’t let anyone convince you you are ready for something you are not. More people get into trouble because they listened to someone who is braver than they are on skis than I care to remember, and that is when you take someone else out and ruin their day. And kids? Forget it. They’ll leave you in the dust, and they bounce when they fall. Aim for one run a day with them. Skiing is a wonderful family sport, and should be fun for everyone. I feel so bad when someone has a bad experience with it, because it means that whoever introduced them to it failed miserably, and thought of themselves…not the person that they were teaching. Try to have fun, insist on a hot tub, and enjoy your spiked hot chocolate (afterwards of course!) GOOD LUCK!!!


amywlsn February 25, 2013 at 5:02 pm

thanks Tired Mother. I do think part of my fear was avoiding the huge crowds of 4 and 5 year olds skiing the bunny slope with me. Maybe I’ll do early tracks next time- and with a female instructor. (And by the way… *great* advice about not being convinced to do a hill you’re not ready for. I did just that two years ago, before I could stop or turn safely, and it was traumatic. That’s probably what’s really happening here.) Thanks so much for all the advice!


Janice February 24, 2013 at 4:14 pm

I’m not a great skier but I do enjoy it and we wanted a fun hobby we could do together as a family. This week made that a reality. And what a joy. Then is happened. The kids were taking an all day lesson, more so for my husband and i to get a day of skiing on more advanced slopes. Last run before we pick up the kids from ski school, I hit an icy patch and slam the back of my unhelmeted head on said patch. Even though I have since bought a helmet and am slowly recovering from my concussion, I am still ready to hit the slopes with the family. But I get the fear factor now. I’m 47 and falling down is not just undignified it just plain hurts. Getting back on the slopes for me is a little scarier now, but being out there with the family is so worth it. Keep at it! Just keep wearing your helmet!


amywlsn February 25, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Oh yes helmet for sure. Glad you’re okay!


Marija February 24, 2013 at 4:33 pm

As someone who hurt both knees skiing at 21, and tried snowboarding for first time at 38, i completely understand you! Fear is real, and, yes it is going to slow you down. My first year with snowboard was just painfull and i tought pointless. With two little kids and no confident ski adult in family, i also felt hampered by the fact that i have to stop practoce as soon as kids finished their lessons. Second year on snowboard, it was much, much better – to the point of me being confident enough to ENJOY the ride down bunny hill (but don’t ask me about getting off chairlift on a board – I’m still consitently falling and scared as sh.t from it). Yes, keep at it, it gets progressively better with couple of days more under your belt. Buy all protective equipement if that is helping with your fear. Go to less-popular mountains – less crowds makes for less worry about not stopping on a dime (I did Titus). And right instructor can make HUGE difference.
Go ahead, no fear is insurmountable, and in couple of years you will be part of family fun.


amywlsn February 25, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Snowboarding?! I will probably never be THAT brave. But thanks for the encouragement! (and for the advice on avoiding crowds)


millions2 February 24, 2013 at 11:04 pm

I started snowboarding at the age of 25 and i was terrified. Like *exactly* how you are feeling. When you’re older, you just have mental blocks, you get scared. Get a female instructor – that is VERY important. You never have to be as good as your kids, trust me – you never will be. But skiing/snowboarding is rewarding when you finally say “screw the fear, I’ll trust my instructor and just do what they’re saying atleast once!” and you’ll see progression. I went every sunday for 10 weeks and conquered my fears of turning, falling, crashing, skidding, flying, and breaking bones. It is work, it takes guts, and it will be different from how your kids are learning. I remember seeing 5 year-olds going over JUMPS while I could barely turn, and it sucked, but now I can snowboard just fine, I can keep up to my friends, and have a good time. Trust me, it’s better than sitting around watching TV – skiing/boarding can be fun at every level if you have the right attitude to just do your best and over time your technique will improve. 🙂


amywlsn February 25, 2013 at 5:03 pm

thanks millions2! You give me hope that it can be fun someday


millions2 March 8, 2013 at 10:36 pm

It can be fun at every level. even now. beautiful scenery, just getting off a lift, having a beer at lunch – enjoy the simple moments, skiing down the hill is only one part of the day.


sharisim February 25, 2013 at 4:04 pm

I’ve been on skis many many MANY times. And I’ve been terrified every single time. I still do it, because I do occasionally have a moment when it’s fun, but for the most part, I’m doing it to say I can. Not sure of the wisdom of that, but true nonetheless.


amywlsn February 25, 2013 at 5:03 pm

LOL. Something to work toward I guess.


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