Skiing is a dance, and some have two left feet
Here is what I consider to be the ultimate definition of skiing: "The art of catching cold and going broke while heading nowhere at great personal risk."
Exactly. So why do it? Well, see, right around December in any given year, the mountains just seem to beckon.
Someone once said that mountains rise up and erupt in our minds as much as they do in our landscapes. When you stand on top of a mountain, it suddenly feels like the universe makes sense. Mountains, after all, are pretty much immortal, and in a skier's mind, sacred.
One can argue (and I would), that the Colorado Rockies are among the most majestic mountains anywhere. It was here that my husband and I, along with a number of friends, decided to ski one icy winter. I was new to the sport, as was my friend Mary. Both of us were looking forward to taking ski lessons.
On our first morning, we all suited up and trudged to the bottom of the lift. I went up with my husband's old roommate Harry, who was an expert skier and promised to show me the ropes.
Mary was to meet her instructor at the top and was paired with a woman who worried because she had never gotten off a lift without her husband's help. Mary did her best to reassure her that there was nothing to it — she just needed to stand up and do a snow-plow move down the ramp.
When it came time to get off, however, the woman panicked and fell on Mary. Because Mary was in a slow-moving plow, her bindings failed to release. The consequences were spiral fractures of both the tibia and the fibula. She told us later that she heard her bones crack as she went down.
Mary was in a cast and on crutches for six months. Something as simple as carrying a glass of water from the counter to the kitchen table was beyond her capability. When the cast was finally taken off, there was no physical therapy (these were the good old days) and over the years, three knee replacements were required.
It was a heavy price to pay for simply trying to learn how to ski. If you want to stay with the immortal mountain theme, I guess you could say Mary was the sacrifice.
If that's the case, though, she wasn't the only one. After Harry and I got off the ski lift, we headed to the edge of the mountain where the trails were marked "Beginner," "Intermediate" and "Expert."
I wanted to ski the beginner slope, because that's what I was. Harry, however, encouraged me to accompany him on the expert run. I got a little way down the slope, stopped, realized I was in over my head, and told him I couldn't go on. His words? "Sure you can. ... Really. ... I'll help you!"
Harry, by the way, was a very handsome and persuasive fellow. It was hard not to believe him, but his words are now engraved in the irony compartment of my brain, since the next thing I knew, I was tumbling like an overeager Slinky down the side of the mountain. The result was a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury requiring a full leg cast.
When our skiing trip thankfully concluded, we all drove down the mountain to catch our flight in Denver. On the way, we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. This proved a problem for Mary and me, as there was one unisex bathroom that opened directly onto the dining room.
Mary, who was 6'1," had a full cast on her very long leg. Since the cast wouldn't bend, she had to use the facilities with the door open and her leg protruding into the restaurant!
Taking pity on her, the rest of us quickly formed a human shield in front of the door. It was the beginning of many awkward and embarrassing moments for both of us.
So let's ask the question again — why ski? I think it's because if you can master it, you will find yourself communing with the mountain, an experience that is exhilarating, empowering and yes, even spiritual. But in the end, as a wise skier once noted, It is important to remember that skiing is a dance — and the mountain always leads.
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