On Learning a New Sport

Learning is good. We all know that. It keeps us mentally sharp, socially engaged, happier and healthier. That’s what the experts say. And so it is that I took up snow skiing at age 51. For some strange reason, I never pursued the sport. Too much trouble, too much equipment, too many arrangements. (Yes, this from someone who will portage kayaks down snowy river banks in freezing temps just to be on icy water in the winter.)

So when the offer came to ski Park City, I was excitedly apprehensive if that’s possible. I figured the worst case scenario would be that I stunk at it. Best outcome would be that I loved it and was recruited for the Senior Olympics. Either way, I’d know by Day 1 which direction I was headed. Equipped with amazing support from our groovy hosts, a ski school schedule and some really cool rented equipment, the challenge was on. My 55 year old hubbie was skiing for the first time as well, so we could commiserate if needed.

I should note, I’m a fairly athletic girl. Jack of all, master of none, but I play a lot outdoors no matter the weather.  Since the forecast for Park City was in the high 30’s, I almost smirked at the layers of clothes I donned. But better to be padded like a stuffed doll than fall downhill at lightning speed with no protection (Yes, I wore a helmet). Oh, and did I mention the slopes were deserted due to Sundance Festival  attendees booking all the lodging in town? How could I not succeed with all these factors stacked in my favor?

After a morning lesson on Turtle slope (as if I didn’t know I was slow), we were ready to tackle a steeper run. Not really, but we did anyway. Down First Timers I flew since I hadn’t quite mastered the stopping action on skis. (Aerodynamic panic was a new concept for me, which I later repeated on a much longer, steeper turn, resulting in a small human pile up due to laughter as I slammed into the mountainside to avoid an untimely death. My body outline can still be seen in the snow.)

Fast forward a few more days and a few more lessons. I am now a skier. Not a great one, but a skier none the less. I learned to glide, turn, ride lifts without causing wipeouts, and sip a latte in front of the fire like an old timer.

The experts are right about that happy feeling.