My Introduction To Snow Skiing in Michigan
At the tender young age of ten I was introduced to the wonderful world of skiing in Michigan. That was not necessarily a good thing. Let me explain.
It was about noon on that fateful day of my introduction that I came home from school for lunch. My father was waiting for me at the door and sternly said “get into the back room. I have to talk to you about something important.” If you knew my father, being told to go into the back room was never a good thing. As I arrived fearing the worse and hoping for the best I found that my younger brother was already there and he had a smile on his face. Normally I would have thought that he had snitched me out over some particular activity I thought I had gotten away with but this time it was unwarranted. He was smiling and pointing to two pair of skis sitting up against the far wall
Now I wasn’t at that time much of an athlete and hated winter and everything related to it. Snow, cold, wet and ice were at the bottom of my list of enjoyable things to experience and I would do anything I could to avoid any contact with them. And now it seemed I was going to be put out into those elements and told to “enjoy this exciting new sport.” Well, okay, I’ll try it. After all our family was poor and dad had somehow scored these two pair of wooded skis. I know he thought he had done something good for his boys and it wasn’t often he was able to do that. How could I say no?
So off we went to a friend’s house for our first skiing experience. The area we went to was a farm with a big hill on the back of the property. Here we climbed to the top fighting deep but crusted snow. My brother was smiling and I was praying. “Dear Lord, please don’t let me die.”
I went straight down the hill at breakneck speeds only to find a very large bump at the bottom and a wire fence just beyond that. Well the bump took care of those rickety old skis and the fence tripped me up enough to create a rather spectacular face first landing in the snow. The skis followed closely behind and were now more than just the original two slabs of skinny wood that was given to me. There were four slabs and for certain were never going to be used as skis ever again.
Such was my first run down the hill. And, for the next twenty years, it was my last.
Can you say “snowshoe skiing?” Snowshoeing is a technique that should have been introduced to me when I was ten years old. It wasn’t, obviously, and hence my bad experience on the slopes. However, I was now turning thirty and wanted to find a way to retain my youth. Yes, I believed at that time that thirty was old. Anyway, a friend of mine asked if I’d like to come with him to the local ski resort. I told him that I would but in no uncertain terms also noted that I would not be taking part. I would simply watch him from the comfort of the coffee shop. It was warm there and most of all safe. He said that was okay and away we went.
Somehow he knew that I was seeking excitement in my life and within two hours he had convinced me to at least try skiing just one more time assuring me that he would teach me and that there would be no nose dives into hard crusty snow. And I being the daredevil that I imagine myself to be, agreed.
Wow, skis had changed a lot over time and I couldn’t believe how comfortable I felt as I slipped into those hard boots and clamped into the bindings. At ten I had on rubber boots with some kind of little leather strap over them. The strap held my boots firmly as I rushed over the bump in the field. My feet came out of the boots. Now there was no chance of this happening. I felt assured.
So you say you want me to put some wax on the bottom of the ski so I can go faster? No, I don’t think so. Slow and easy would be my preference. Well, if you insist I will add the wax but you’ll pay for it if I go too fast and crash. Fair warning I thought. What had I agreed to!
When you try to grab on to a line that is moving and don’t know what to expect guess what happens? You fall. That’s ONE! Trying to grab and hold on again and falling again… That’s TWO! Okay, easily increase your grip on the line and let it pull you to the top of the bunny hill. I did it! That was the good part. Now I was staring down the bunny hill thinking that it was a two mile downhill run and I was never going to survive. But I had my youth to preserve. I had been shown how to snowplow with the skis and was good at it on level ground. It was time to take the plunge into my youthful endeavor.
Amazingly enough I made it all the way to the bottom without falling. I was so proud of my new found ability. That was fun. Let’s do it again. And we did time after time after time. Soon I was eying the larger challenges just over the horizon. The place you could get to only by riding the ski lift. I knew I could do it and soon I did.
My son was the tender age of ten when I first told him to “get into the back room because I had something important to discuss with him.” I could see the fear creep across his face as he knew that going into the back room was never a good thing. Boy was he in for a surprise!
Unlike me he was a natural on the slopes. Or perhaps it was because he was properly trained beforehand thereby not having to experience shooting straight down his first hill. Regardless, he now hits the slopes every winter and he is great at it.
I am older now and my youthful nature has been preserved in part because of my skiing experiences through the years.
I can hardly wait to see how my son introduces the sport of skiing to my grandchildren. They are in so much trouble.