(The following post has nothing to do with running – you’ve been warned!)
So we took the family to the snow for the long 3-day president’s weekend. Where I live this 3 day weekend kicks off our mid-Winter Break, otherwise known as Ski-Week. (Let me digress a minute -where else, but a few parts of Northern California could you possible get away with naming school break after a wildly-expensive sport??)
Sorry – back to my story.
I learned to ski with the high school ski group. A class mate gave me a ten minute instruction then down the hill I went. Every time I fell, she would ski after me and spray me with snow. After the umpteenth time falling I learned to stay on my feet. No formal lesson, no instruction – just the luck of the genetic draw that I’m athletic and can pick up things pretty quickly. It may not have been pretty, but I could make it down the hill.
My husband Brad also learned to ski as a teenager and was ‘taught’ in a similar fashion. He and his friends (back in their much younger days) loved risk, going really fast and doing crazy things so he’s just better period.
When we took my daughter Alexa to the snow when she was little, we did what all parents nowadays do – we paid someone else to teach our precious angel how to “make a big pizza wedge or a little pizza wedge” and what it meant when her skis looked like “french fries”. We dropped her off, hit the slopes, had lunch and a beer (or two) and picked her up a few hours later. Even though we we hadn’t been skiing in a few years she had the foundation from the Tiny Tots, Mini Racers, or whatever the ski school was called!
Then there’s Jack. My leg hugger, snuggle bear. But also my “no way, no how am I going to put on those skis at all, let alone let you drop me into any ski school, daycare or whatever you call it”. The last time we went skiing he and I walked around the bottom of the slopes near the lodge.
Back and forth, back and forth. (by the way, it’s really boring to watch other people ski.) I watched Moms and Dads go up the tow rope with their toddlers between their legs and then ski down with them so Jack and I gave that a try. We did that for a few hours (up and down, up and down). He got a feel for the skis and I vowed the next time we went to the snow that he was really going to ski!
Finally the planets aligned and we were able to a trip to the snow for an official “family ski day” at Kirkwood. We walked in to rent equipment and Jack informs us that he’s “not skiing so we can just forget it”. Like any good, caring parent we ignore him and continue to fit him for his boots, helmet, skis and we let him get poles so he can be like a Ninja. All the while he’s protesting but again, blah blah blah.
Our group decides to do the Bunny Hill (Funny Bunny?Honey Bunny?) together. Brad and I have Jack in between us in the line and Alexa is with the other kids going up ahead of us. We drag Jack by the collar (hoods on kids’ jackets RULE) and we ask the lift operator to slow it down so we can get on. We sit and away we go.
We realized that we should kind of explain to Jack how to get off the lift and at the top the lift operator slows it down and surprisingly we all get off the chair without falling. We’re both holding on to Jack’s collar again and we drag him to the side.
After a rousing game of Ro-Sham-Bo we decide (since I lost) that I’d start out by skiing down the hill with Jack between my legs like the last time. I’m holding two sets of poles and down we go. Well, Funny Bunny or whatever is a lot steeper than the flats we tried the last time. I’m snowplowing like mad and trying not to fall. We stop halfway down and I have Brad take over. He kind of lets him go, forgetting Jack, um, doesn’t know what to do.
We chase, stop him and then after much loud discussion, it was decided that I’d take it from there. Let me say that it was “loudly” decided that I’d take it from there. I am sure the folks above us on the chair lift thought we were hilarious! Ha Ha Ha
I quickly decide that I had an advantage since I’m a boot camp instructor. I teach people proper technique and positioning and while I can’t count or figure out my left from my right – I am capable and experienced in explaining how to perform exercises. So we took a break on the hill and I explained what we needed to do together, what the positioning of his legs should be, how to shift his weight (this part took a while) when to bend his knees, to stand tall and what to do with his arms (instead of flail them or grab a hold of me like a life preserver).
Each time we went down the hill he got more comfortable and a bit more confident. I’d just tell him “pizza wedge, pizza wedge” over and over again to remind him to snowplow – and also so that he wouldn’t french fry over my pizza wedge!
Luckily, I have really, really, really strong legs so I was able to snowplow around Jack and his pizza wedge for hours and still walk the next day! All of the side sumo squats, lunges and step ups that we do in class are excellent preparation for skiing.
After a while Brad rejoined us and we’d have him go down the hill a bit then I’d ski with Jack then let him to ski down to his Dad. Only a few times did he shoot past where Brad was standing so we had to do some chasing! And only a few times did I make us fall into a twisted heap.
Jack only cried once when I landed on his wrist and I only cried once when I thought my knee snapped off at the joint! So we were having a good day!
After practicing the ski, let go and catch game for a while Brad went to ski some big hills and Jack and I kept at it. We got to the point where he could ski most of the way down alone. I’d have him follow me as I’d yell over my shoulder “pizza wedge, pizza wedge”.
Finally by around 2pm he was skiing from top to bottom without any help. No poles, no crying, no complaining. From any of us! I figure the money we saved on ski school can be used on therapy when he’s older.
Now go run!