I keep returning to the topic of winter, as you can tell by my last post on this blog as well as over at Drinkers with Writing Problems. We’re at the point where we’re past the frenzy of the holiday season but still have a long stretch of cold and gray ahead of us before spring, a.k.a. the super boring tedious part where, in The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder had to twist hay for fuel and subsist on potatoes. For us modern-day pioneers, it means scraping our windshields for the billionth time or writing furious EveryBlock posts about the neighbor that keeps calling dibs.
This is also the part of winter where people start to go on vacations, either to tropical locations for a break in the monotony, or to ski destinations to take part in winter sports. My husband grew up in a skiing family, but I’ve only downhill skied a handful of times. When I was a kid, it was perfectly acceptable to spend the whole ski outing on the bunny hills and using the rope tow. Sadly, as an adult I get mercilessly teased for doing the same.
The last time I went on a ski trip with friends was about 12 years ago. I was the only one who rented skis; everyone else brought their own. They had grown up in skiing families and were skilled and experienced enough to tackle the black diamond slopes. Alone on the wimpy hill, I slowly practiced my snow plow stops and mini-slaloms, working my way up from the beginner slope to a more intermediate run. Eventually I braved the ski lift, which is one of my biggest fears; I’m terrified of heights and the seats look so open and precarious, leaving you vulnerable to any number of Final Destination-esque grisly death scenarios.
On a trip up the hill, shortly after I scooted my snow pants-covered bottom onto the ski lift seat and let it swoop me up about 10 feet into the air, one of my cheap rental skis fell off my boot. I yelped in horror. The ski lift groaned to a standstill.
“What do I do now?” I asked my friend seated next to me in panic. He looked behind us and told me that the lift operator had fetched my lost ski and handed it to the people on one of the chairs behind us, so they could bring it to me at the top of the hill like helpful, goggle-wearing golden retrievers. As our chairs slowly lurched forward again, I started to think about what would happen when we reached the top. I would now have to disembark from my chair and slide my way down the little landing mound on one ski, a la John Cusack in Better Off Dead. My heart was pounding as we climbed closer to the top of the hill; for the first and only time ever, I didn’t want the ride to end. We eventually reached the end of the lift. I gritted my teeth and hoped for the best. When my one ski touched down on snow, I balanced on it as best as I could and rode it out, waving my arms and poles for balance like a deranged pelican, wobbling the whole way down. But I made it! I Lane-Meyered it just far enough to ensure that the next group to come off the lift wouldn’t crash into me, and then stood aside to wait for my other ski. After that, I decided that I shouldn’t push my athletic prowess or dumb luck any further and it was time to retire to the lodge for some adult beverages.
So yeah, skiing is not my winter sport. I’ve since had a major surgery on my knee, so I doubt I’ll be taking it up anytime soon. What else is there? My favorite Olympic winter sport is speed skating, which I’ve only done myself on roller skates. Luging looks like an insane thing to only be attempted in a futuristic death match reality show. Curling looks dumb yet oddly captivating. Maybe any of the things that I only do in the winter could count as ‘my winter sport.’ So that leaves me with drinking whiskey and moisturizing the shit outta my face.