Pre-vacation Panic

Why is it that just to take a week off requires several weeks prior of insanity. I’ve easily gone a week without anyone contacting me here and there, or with clients forgetting to get me stuff. But as soon as I say the words “I’m going to be taking a few days off” it’s like I’ve just told them I’ll be gone for several months and they’ll be on their own. My brother and his family are coming into town and he’s rented a townhouse up in the mountains for the week. So this was part of the push for me to learn how to ski this year, because I wanted to to be able to ski with everyone.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing. The Pre-vacation Panic. It sounds like it should be some kind of line-dance. I’ll bet it looks alot like people running around and bumping into each other and getting knocked out. At least, that’s what I’ve felt like I’ve done at the end of each day.

A good day to ski

(Side note: I have a list of iPhone apps I’ve recently purchased and have been playing with, so stay tuned, I’ll have tons of that stuff to talk about soon – in the meantime, I leave you with another installment of my learn-to-ski saga)

So back to the slopes we went this weekend. I probably would have preferred to either take a break for at least a week after last weekend’s fiasco (and the fact that the Sundance Film Festival is going on right now up there), but I kind of had to go. I had filled out a customer comment form on the resort’s website and told them about the various problems I’d had – the first lesson, with all the equipment issues I had, then of course was last weekend where the class had been much more advanced than I had wanted. I got a call from the director of skier services and we talked a bit about how the classes are supposed to be run – obviously there was some miscommunication that landed me in the class I ended up in. He promised to have my favorite instructor be the one teaching the class I needed for the following Sunday if I came back to give it another try. So I had to go.

That instructor is a ski-goddess. I love her. I really do. If you are in the area (Park City, UT), (and especially if you are new to skiing and want to learn) and want to take a lesson with the most awesome instructor that ever was – let me know and I will give you her contact info. She has just the right balance of understanding my fears, but also getting me over them so I can progress. I never feel like she’s talking “down” to me, and even when I’m trying to deal with a kind of silly fear (like my panic attack on the chair lift) she never made me feel bad about it, but still got me totally over it.

So the class started off on the bunny slopes I was comfortable with. She gave us a few little pointers to improve what we were doing, then up to the big slope we went. The same one I was “Yard Sale-ing” on last week. (I was told by a friend that it is passe to call it “face plants” – and that the cool kids call it a yard sale. This totally baffled me why someone would call it a yard sale until I saw this video. Then I understood… Ah… they call it a yard sale because your gear goes in all directions all over the mountain like you’re having a yard sale. LOL! Got it.) Before going up, she looked at me to make sure I was ok with the idea LOL! I told her I trusted her, and I totally do. If she thought I could do it, then I believed her.

I’m sure that part of the problem last week was it was really new territory for me and I just didn’t have the same kind of confidence in that instructor that I do in this one. But also, I knew that if I started to have problems, she would be right there to help me out.

Ironically, this time, I had no trouble on the run. I didn’t fall once. I didn’t lose control once. I joked with the instructor that now she’s in for it, because I think I just need her to be my personal lifelong ski coach. LOL! I will admit that I was still quite a bit nervous and I have this little mantra going in my head. It’s totally ridiculous, but it does help. When I start to get a little nervous, I just say over and over in my head “You can ski! You can ski! You KNOW how to do this!” LOL! Like I have to convince myself I know what I’m doing. But you know what, as soon as the mantra in my head starts, I start to ski better.

The run we did was about 3-1/2 miles I think, but part of it we did twice, so it ended up being about 5 miles. Downhill. No falls. I DID IT!

So now I think I’m done with the lessons for awhile and will probably just be sking this run (a green run) and maybe a few other green runs they have at the resort. I’m skiing now at the level I wanted to be at – so now it’s just doing it over and over again until I feel really strong on it.

Meanwhile, Rachel was skiing blue runs in her class (kids learn so easily. It’s so not fair. LOL!) And Zach also was really improving. We put him in their all day program and he had a blast. The instructor was really impressed with how well he’s picking this up. He said he was listening really well (that alone is impressive!! LOL!).

Not sure if we’ll get up there next weekend. The Sundance film festival is still going on, but by getting there early we didn’t have trouble getting parking at the resort. Sam is on call with work, so he can’t be away from the computer for the whole day like that. But Rachel and I might go up just ourselves. Now that I can do that green run, I know she won’t be overly bored with skiing with me. 😀

SO not ready for prime time

We had our family ski day today. I should have known what was to come since I was feeling particularly anxious about it. To the point of barely being able to sleep the night before from the endless anxiety dreams. I know it sounds crazy – but when I get that worked up – it rarely ends up being a situation where you could say “See – all that worry for nothing!” If I’m worrying, and that much… it’s usually with good reason.

The big problems were what we were going to do with Zach. The group lesson we wanted to put him in was a situation where you had to get there, sign up after you arrived and hoped they still had an opening. You couldn’t make a reservation. I was worried about him not liking it (I think he thought he was going sledding not skiing.) On the way up we even talked about maybe it would be better anyway not to do the group lesson and just do a 1 hour private lesson – but then what would Sam do the rest of the time with him? And as my fear came to reality – the group lesson was booked up – all we had available was the 1 hour private lesson. While I think that was great for Zach – he did really well in the class – it meant that Sam was entertaining him for the rest of the time we were up there – and that definitely had a time limit.

And me? The instructor I had for my private lesson last time had said that I should be good for a level 3 lesson the next time I come in. But either that was a gross overconfidence in my abilities, or this particular “level 3 lesson” wasn’t your average level 3 lesson. There was one guy in there who said he had actually been skiing for 30 years, but just never took a lesson. I should have known then to ask for a different group. The instructor and I did NOT click (it was not the same one I had for my private lesson) and in fact he got kind of mad at me at one point because they had stopped kind of quickly at a steep part of the hill, and I had gone a little further down because, sorry, I just can’t stop that quickly. Also, he apparently preferred to ski IN FRONT of the class. (How this was supposed to help us when he couldn’t even see what we were doing, I don’t know) So he took us all the way up the mountain. When we would ski for a stretch, he would get so far ahead. At one point I had fallen, and of course how could he know because he was way down ahead, and by the time I got back up and was able to get going again, I had no idea where everyone was. When I finally found them – I realized I was on the opposite side of the run, I tried to slow down, but could not, and fell, again. Meanwhile, I’m looking at them, and they’re all looking up the mountain wondering where I am.

This happened a few times and then I finally said I was probably in the wrong class. He called in a snow mobile to take me to another lift nearby that brought me back down. My confidence has been more than a bit bruised. I guess I should be happy that’s all that’s bruised, seeing how many times I had fallen.

My biggest fear is speed. I like to ski slow and controlled. I had hoped that green runs meant a less steep hill – and sure, it is less steep than blue and black – but I guess I need something even less steep than what we were on. (Which was green)

I got a few more runs in on what is apparently called the “turtle run” (Rachel told me thats what they call it – figures that’s all I’d be able to do) and then I started getting text messages from Sam that Zach’s patience for the day was ending. There was only 30mins left technically to our lessons so I figured it was close enough and we called it a day. (And don’t even get me started with how I had to argue with Rachel’s instructor to get her out of the class. He kept going on about how they’re sticklers for the rules, and the class isn’t over yet, etc. and I’m like – there’s only 30mins left to the lesson, I am her MOTHER – we need to go – WE ARE GOING! Don’t even tell me I can’t take my own child! What the hell??)

My goal was to be able to do a green run – the easiest kind of run there is in skiing. I didn’t think that was an outrageous goal – but apparently even still it’s going to be quite awhile before I can do it without falling flat on my face every 5 feet, or going down the mountain as I fear: extremely fast and without control.

No, I’m not going to give up – but that doesn’t change the fact that I feel pretty deflated right now. I felt so confident last week – and this time? Just awful.

What a difference a day makes

On Saturday I went back to give the skiing another shot. I figured, with my level of discomfort and fear of the whole thing I was probably better off getting a private lesson, just to get over that hump and feel more comfortable. That is exactly what I got.

Talk about being out of my comfort zone – I went up there by myself feeling totally scared. The last time I went it wasn’t the most fun. But at least I’d had a friend with me. This time I was totally on my own. At least I already knew the instructor (I had requested the one from the last lesson) and knew she was a lot of fun and very patient. But even she said that she had been surprised (but really happy) that I’d come back. After the last time, she would have expected me to throw in the towel and said to hell with it. But I didn’t feel the last time gave me a fair assessment of the sport. It had been snowing, my equipment sucked. Not a good way to start.

Despite it all, by the end of the lesson she had me turning back and forth down the hill to control my speed; we moved from the very very easy hill to a more steeper one. I was able to navigate around people in front of me. I actually only fell once the whole time – and even then I sort of did it on purpose because I wasn’t slowing down enough and I wanted to stop. After that, I was getting better at controlling my speed so I didn’t need to just bail like that to come to a stop. And the best part, I was really starting to have fun. When we went down the steeper hill, I really felt like I had gotten it. She was really happy with the amount of improvement I’d been able to do.

And now? I can’t wait to go back. I’ve been thinking about the whole experience all day – I’ll probably be on the mountain in my mind all week. Next weekend we’ll all go up. I’m going to do a group lesson (now at least, I feel like I won’t be holding anyone up), Rachel will do a lesson too. And we’ll try to sign Zach up for an afternoon lesson. Sam will probably just be on hand for Zach’s lesson since his and Rachel’s lesson would end an hour before mine does, as well, this will be the first time we put Zach on skis so we have no idea how he’ll react. My instructor said that probably one more (group) lesson and I should be good to do some green runs on my own outside of a lesson.

Aside from wanting to learn, I was really hoping that this would be something that we could do together as a family and it’s starting to look like we just might be able to do that. That it can be something that we all enjoy doing together.

I’m also still on a high because for years, I have had a pretty strong fear of skiing. I really didn’t know if it was something I was going to be able to do. I’m not exactly very athletically inclined. (Understatement of the year) I had always imagined myself getting on skis, not being able to control my speed and just hurdling down the mountain without breaks. So doing this; getting to the point of actually feeling comfortable on the skis; getting to the point of not being afraid – and in fact ENJOYING it. I feel like a faced and conquered a fear. It’s extremely empowering. I can’t wait to get back on the mountain again.

Chicks on Sticks: Adventures in Skiing

So I had my first ski lesson on Sunday. An adventure from beginning to end. The day begin with a massive snow storm. That would have ended the trip right then and there if it wasn’t for the fact that my friend who was taking the lesson with me had 4-wheel drive. (My little mini-van doesn’t do so well in snow). So we made it up the mountain, although it did take quite a bit longer than we had planned for. We got checked in, and fitted for the rental equipment.

Lesson 1 for the day: Even if the high school student working behind the counter says you don’t need to, and that it will be fine – make sure the boots fit into the skis they give you.

After getting checked in and getting our equipment we had just enough time for a quick bite for lunch before meeting up with the instructor. We set our skis outside the restaurant – I even made the comment “You mean, people just leave the ski equipment out here?? Nothing gets stolen??” My friend made the comment that we had rental equipment… True – if someone was going to walk off with equipment, I’m sure there was a better selection of items to chose from.

We then go to meet up with the instructor. First lesson… how to clear off snow from your ski boot – and get it into the ski. Ah yes, that’s when we realize my boot does not actually FIT into the ski!! At first we thought maybe someone had switched equipment on me, but no… after some back and forth – we finally got the skis fitting. Lots of wasted time there.

Then it was time to ski… sort of. I thought with skis on you were supposed to… I don’t know… move? I had to do a lot of pushing with my poles to move. The only time I would really start to go was if the hill got significantly steep. There were several points to the day that I just could not get moving, I was holding the class up, and the instructor literally had to tow me down the hill. Seriously? Tow me DOWN a HILL when I’m wearing SKIS??

Lesson 2 for the day: Going forward – I’m going to make the rental place wax the skis right then and there. I’m not wasting this much time again on equipment FAILS.

Where the lesson was – there was no “magic carpet” (I still have no idea what that is), so we took the chair lift up. That’s probably the biggest thing I took away from the lesson: getting over my intense fear of the chair lift. I mean, aside from the height issue – which isn’t really like a “phobia of heights” or anything – just like, I’d rather be somewhere else kind of feeling… but the getting off, I was having a huge panic attack about how to get off the chair lift without it killing me. After about 3 times through, I got the basic idea. You’re supposed to just go straight off the chair lift – you will stop eventually because it’s really flat just after the lift, but if you try to wedge and stop too soon or use your poles, you’re going to screw up the people next to you – which is what the others in the class were doing to me! LOL! But the instructor saw what I was doing and said I did it the right way and would have gotten off cleanly otherwise.

I feel like I really only got a very limited amount of real SKI time – so I’m only slightly more comfortable with the idea than I was before going into it. It’s going to take a lot of practice I think before I feel even vaguely ok just going down the beginner slope. The other factor that doesn’t help is other skiers. The ones zooming past me. Granted, I know they probably have more control than I do – but I’m not going to bet money on it. So there’s a lingering fear of someone screaming up behind me and crashing into me – with my being able to do little or nothing at all to stop it or get out of the way.

On a positive note, however, I really liked the instructor. With the deal I got for this ski package – I can go up another 4 times this season with my rentals, lift tickets and group ski lesson all costing only $25 each time I go. Or I can opt to just use the lift ticket and rental, and buy a private lesson – which is what I might do, if I can swing it. If so, I’ll be requesting THAT particular instructor because she was awesome.

I’m frustrated that I didn’t end the day feeling more confident on skis. But I also accept the fact that will probably take a long time, and I wasn’t given a fair advantage with my equipment. But as frustrating as it was, I’m willing to give it a few more tries before I concede and say “This is NOT FOR ME.”