The Canyons at Park City, Utah
Or what I learned about skiing.
Skiing is one of the most beautiful sports on earth. There is no substitute for gliding through a pinewood forest amidst snow covered mountains, the pure white and dark green contrasting with a brilliant blue sky.
My first morning at the Canyons I waddled down the hall from our suite in my borrowed ski suit and socks to the Ski Valet, picked up my rental equipment and headed out the double doors to our private lift. Accompanied by three friends I took my completely inexperienced self to the top of the hill and then managed to ski myself into a pile less than 5 seconds later. Apparently all I remembered from my youth was snowplowing and then falling when that didn't work.
Thankfully I was still on the trail and not half way down the steep mountainside when I fell. After realizing I completely had no idea what I was doing, off came the skis and down the mountain I slipped and slithered until I reached the bottom where all my friends were waiting, worried.
Not even embarrassed but with complete conviction I marched by, calling as I went, "Go ski! I'm finding a ski school!" I guess my one skiing event 18 years ago and a minor trial a year ago following a friend on a small slope in Massachusetts hadn't prepared me for the majestic mountains of Utah. (Sidenote: Just looked out the window and realized we're flying over the grand canyon...yah I took that picture...isn't it cool?).
In my determination to find help, I marched up to the first school sign I saw to beg, errr, ask for help. They redirected me to the adult school. I ran over, dodged inside, and with sweat dripping down my face approached the poor girl at the counter. "I can't ski! I need help!" The woman laughed and said if I wanted to join, there was a class that was starting now. Handing her my credit card, having no idea the cost, I said, "Sign me up!" Convinced from my morning experience that I couldn't ski at all I signed up for the beginner class but when I met the instructor and he found I'd had one lesson, albeit 18 years ago, he moved me up a level. I proceeded to explain why I shouldn't be moved up for the entire gondola ride. The second instructor patiently smiled and listened to me, then had me ski down a bunny hill and told me I was fine for her class. From that moment on, anything Leah said I could do, I did. By the end of the day she had me (and the 2 other people in my class) going down blue trails with ease...and what a blessing! Because for the next two days I not only skied but I loved it! I learned so much about weight and balance, turning, parallel skiing, snow, ice and slush (umm, I mean mashed potatoes)...
So much of skiing is mental! The fear from my first ski down the mountain almost ruined my trip. I seriously thought as I stormed toward the school, "If they can't teach me, I'm going back to the hotel and spending the rest of the weekend in front of the fire." Instead I spent it on the slopes with my friends. Even when we took a wrong turn and had to ski down a sheet of ice, Leah's instructions held true and I got down without mishap!
And that fire is so much enjoyable at the end of the day when you've exhausted yourself skiing. So what I learned: Ski School is worth every penny and then some!