Learning To Snow Ski
I learned to snow ski in Austria while stationed in Germany in the late 80's. Snow skiing turned out to be one of the most exhilarating sports. I enjoyed it immensely and highly recommend it to any one who has considered giving it a try.
Snow skiing is great exercise and develops hand, eye coordination. It also increases balance and muscle tone outside of the gym environment, just having fun while maintaining fitness.
Arriving to Ski In Austria
My Snow Skiing Experience
I had never been snow skiing but had toyed with the idea, not knowing exactly how to go about learning. A friend informed me that over Thanksgiving Holiday there was an inexpensive 4 day tour to Austria where some of the finest skiing is found. I became excited about the prospect, but voiced concern over the learning aspect. My friend informed me that was not a problem because she would personally instruct me as she had been to these very ski slopes before.
Excitement mounting, I signed up for the tour, rented skis and we were off. We arrived at the lodge and had lesson one, putting on skis, this went quite well, so I was now prepared for the snow. Youth and excitement displaced usual precautions as I followed each instruction without thought or question. This is how you stand, balance, move forward, hey this is great, I was really getting it.
The T-Bar To The Top Of The Hill
Next step, getting to the top of the hill. We got in line for the "t-bar" to go to the top of my first slope. It was explained to me that you don't sit on the t-bar you just lean on it. The t-bar is a two person balancing act. Sounded great, we arrived at the front of the line here came the t-bar to take us to the top. The next thing I knew we were both laid out in the snow, the t-bar popping up into the air and upset people behind us telling us if we don't know what we are doing to move out of the way so they can ski. I thought this was hilarious but apparently everyone else not so much, including my friend/instructor who explained in one syllable words something about not sitting on the t-bar. Okay, so I have it now, for real, don't sit, just lean.
We wait patiently in line for our turn again to go to the top of the hill my friend/instructor has now turned into a lecturer. We are there, here comes our t-bar, I have it lean, just lean. You got it, I leaned a little too hard, and once again, we are laid out on the ground, collecting ourselves and our equipment. The t-bar popped up in the air and went on up the slope once again without us. Yelling has never made me move faster, so I don't know why people bother, once again, I thought it was hilarious and no one seemed to appreciate it the same way I did.
More one syllable, four letter word instruction and suddenly I get it, it's not about leaning at all, what exactly is the difference between leaning and sitting after all. Just stand there, let it hit you and push you up the hill. Here comes the t-bar, my friend/instructor has informed me this is my last chance and if I want to learn how to ski, do it right! We are off, the exhilaration of moving up the snow covered slope effortlessly being pushed by the t-bar. It worked, don't sit, don't lean, just wait and let the t-bar do all of the work!
How To Ski
Without further ado, we arrive at the top of the slope and I am ready for my next lesson. A flask of jagertee is next, a little something to keep me warm and apparently to reduce my awareness from asking too many questions. Jagertee is not like green tea, if ever in Austria skiing I highly recommend just one shot, that is enough to last a lifetime, if you ever want to feel warm, just remember that moment.
All warmed up and numb from the jagertee, my next instruction is to go to the edge of the slope. Like a lamb to the slaughter I go right up to the edge, breathtaking beauty reveals itself from the top of a ski slope. I was taking in the beauty of the moment, hardly noticing as I was asked are you ready. Maybe I said yes, maybe I didn't, I really don't remember.
I heard GO, at the same moment I felt the blow between my shoulder blades sending me plummeting down the slope at an ever increasing speed. I yelled, I screamed, already knowing it was useless. It didn't work on me at the bottom of the slope, it was equally ineffective on everyone else now. How do I stop? How do I turn? How do I slow down? Something told me it was a little late to be thinking these questions. I just continued to scream, as I was now flying past others. Then I saw them in front of me, a man and a child, they were already down, Couldn't they hear me screaming, yelling, headed straight for them? Surely they would move, get out of my way, wasn't it obvious I had no idea what I was doing? Apparently not, already down, they couldn't move, clueless I couldn't divert. We all three rolled into a new pile and so I learned how to stop. Not the most effective way of stopping, but my high speed journey downhill had stopped every bit as abruptly as it began.
We all rambled about collecting ourselves and our gear, checking and ensuring everyone seemed to be fine. Except one small problem, I still had to make it to the bottom of the slope somehow. Fortunately for me, my friend/instructor arrived as if on cue. My turn to speak in one syllable 4 letter word sentences. Turns out my instructor had been skiing one time on these very slopes prior to this trip and new if I had been provided this information I would never have agreed to such a preposterous plan.
All Is Well That Ends Well
It turned out that this training was quite sufficient, throughout the rest of the four day weekend I not only made it back to the bottom of that slope, I was also able to advance to riding in a seat you sit on to more advanced slopes and actually learning to maneuver and stop on command versus screaming and plowing into others.
As I said in the beginning, an exhilarating experience, physical exercise without the gym. Just plain fun in the most beautiful playground ever built, nature.
After sharing my own story, some of you may not be as excited about the thrill of snow skiing as I was, so here are a few tips I learned in retrospect:
- Check out your ski instructor, find out how much experience they have and their qualifications to instruct.
- Learn all about stopping and maneuvering prior to learning how to get to the top of the slopes
- Jagertee is better enjoyed after the ski trip, not before or during.
- Last, but not least, enjoy the experience, it really is exhilarating and fun and keeps the body in great shape.