Monday, March 7, 2011

3-7-11: End of the Ski Season

This past weekend marked the end of the ski season for me. I don’t much like spring skiing, so I’m pretty sure I’m packing it in until next winter.

I’m happy that it went out on a high note, for the most part. This weekend was the On Snow Winter Carnival, an annual three-day celebration of winter hosted by the Connecticut Ski Council at a selected Vermont skiing resort. The past two years have been at Mount Snow. Last year’s event was awesome in many regards, but the event this year was still pretty good. I think most of it was due to the weather (this year had one good day, one mediocre day, and one very rainy day; last year had three sunny days). I am sure glad I took Friday off from work to get in a great day in the sun. Saturday was very foggy and misty, and I didn’t even bother skiing with all the rain yesterday.

I made significant progress this season while gaining a considerable amount of confidence. I still have my moments of fear now and then, but I don’t mind the steepness. In fact, I seek it out in moderation. I spent a lot of time working on my mechanics this weekend, and had a few marvelous runs. Mount Snow is great for intermediates (but terrible for beginners). Most of the main face consists of blue cruisers and their grooming is awesome. I was lucky on Friday morning to get first tracks in a few spots. I stopped on “Thanks Walt” over on Sunbrook to appreciate the view and the silence – it was awesome. I really wish the lady could have skied, but she was sidelined due to her injury a few weeks ago at Killington. She was bumming, but still hung out.

One of the things I can appreciate after two good seasons, with 10+ days on the mountain each season, is learning a new skill as an adult. I was three years old when I began learning to ice skate. I honestly don’t remember ever not being able to skate. However, I vividly remember my first time on skis as an adult. I was thrilling and terrifying. When you’re 6’5” tall, 215 pounds, and 24 years old, you don’t want to fall. It hurts. When you’re only five or six, you have nothing to lose! Kids fall all the time. They cry at first, but it doesn’t really hurt all that much. It may take them longer to learn than adults (plenty of people learn to ski as adults and learn faster), but kids have the advantage of having less fear. Most of my friends who ski learned as children or teenagers, and they’re obviously years ahead of me. But I doubt they were where I am now after 23 days on the mountain.

I genuinely enjoy skiing now. For years I avoided it, mostly due to other athletic endeavors. I wasn’t allowed to ski for most of my life due to ice hockey. When I was first approached with the prospect of learning as an adult by the lady, I was very hesitant. I was able to successfully avoid skiing with my ex-girlfriend, but I knew I wasn’t going to get away with it this time. It’s pretty daunting, especially when you’re being exposed to an entirely new culture while learning many new skills. I didn’t want to move too quickly, though. A good friend of mine started snowboarding when he was 23 and ended up going to Jackson Hole in Wyoming in his second season. My other friends say he can handle the tough terrain, but could perhaps use some work on mechanics. There’s a fine line between being brave and being reckless. I like to build up my confidence before hitting the tough terrain.

I achieved my goal for the season of successfully managing a black diamond trail from top to bottom. I did that a few weeks ago at Killington on “Superstar” – and, despite being exhausted at the bottom, was thrilled. Though I’m still not quite there with carved turns, I have significantly reduced my habit of making “hockey-stop-like Z turns” down the hill. My legs have thanked me.

My goals for next season are:

1) Be able to solidly handle a difficult mogul run
2) Be able to manage a relatively difficult glade run
3) Master the carved S turn

Steeper terrain provides me with the requisite energy to make my turns, and forces me, like it or not, to keep my weight more forward. I look forward to the challenge.

See you next season, ski slopes.

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