Diary of An Irish Woman

musings of an irish lady now living in America.

Monday, February 21, 2005


So - I wrote a wee story about learning to Ski.. Hope you enjoy

Irish Woman Learning To Ski

No one who knows me – could ever in his or her wildest imagination call me athletic. I’m very much the armchair warrior and got my exercise as a child turning the pages of books. In fact when I was 14 I pulled the ligament off my knee in my sleep, I know… hard to do or even imagine doing, but I managed. The doctor declared that it was a rare athletic disease seen in professional athletes; my Mum fell off the chair laughing in the office. The doctor was not amused at my mother’s flippant disregard for her diagnosis skills.

Anyway, my boyfriend ski’s and has done so for 15 years, can even ski backwards and wanted me to try the sport. As one individual who has known to be accident prone (how many other people do you know who have fallen into a luggage compartment of a Double Decker bus over scuba diving tanks), I was reluctant to try. That and I don’t like hills in general, preferring to remain on flat terra firma. But the eagerness of his descriptions, the assurance that there was a great ski school and I would have a great time, chipped away at the memory of that I don’t even like going downhill on a bike and dislike San Francisco mainly because of the offending slopes. My roommate is a snowboarder and she eagerly described how much fun I’d have. Disregarding that she climbs boulders for fun and hikes mountains I agreed and the shopping began.

A date was set, now the shopping trip to equip me as a new ski victim. They decided to get me into a ski bib. Imagine Uncle Jessie in a pair of black overalls; now imagine the Michelin tire man in the same outfit, now you’re getting close. My only comfort is that no one looks skinny skiing, in fact that’s one reason alone to go. Next was thermal top, leggings, socks, hat, vest, thermal top, mittens, ski goggles to go over my own glasses and a thermal neck cover. I was so hot and had so many clothes on, I felt like Johnny Forty Coats or that girl in Willie Wonka movie who turns into a humongous blueberry, unable to move my arms. I waddled my way into the car for the drive.
We decided on Kirkwood to ski, its $59 for beginners including ski rental equipment and two hour lesson and ski lift for the day. Seemingly a bargain price, I was just hoping they had people older than 12 teaching me how to ski. After driving up on a Friday and staying at a motel we rose at the crack of dawn and were we at the ski rental place at Kirkwood at 8am. All kitted up to go and after two men struggled to get my ski boot closed, I waited for the ski lesson. We went to a mini slope and they taught us how to walk uphill in our skis, turn, go straight and stand. I noticed that they didn’t teach us how to stop. They were 15 newbies ranging in age from 15 to 40’s in our group and I was seen as a gifted child because I was still standing after an hour. Not a good sign… Then they showed us the wedge, which means you put your feet together in a ‘v’ shape to slow down. I became master of the wedge. This is not an idle boast, my legs still go into that shape now going down stairs here at home, eager to practice the beloved way it slowed me down going downhill.

We were only allowed on the bunny slope with its own special lift. This has its pluses and minuses. You are no where near ski lifts bringing you to places that you shouldn’t ski yet, but also you are with everyone else who also cant ski. Imagine a snow slope pinball machine and that’s pretty accurate of my first time down the slope. After falling off the chair lift of which I was assured many people do (I stayed there ten minutes and no one else fell – obviously they had all learned from my goof up, I moved on so I could imagine others falling instead of me). I started downhill. There’s a certain pride in saying that I can ski so slowly that the trees are moving quicker than me. The first time down would have been more enjoyable if not for one young lady in our group who obviously had me marked out as a target. After knocking me over five times I was getting paranoid. When she also took me down with the instructor for a seventh hit I was wishing I had mirrors so I could see her approach. I could hear jaws music in my head as she took me down an eight time. Now not to say that I didn’t fall on my own, I did. I fell three times on my own including getting off the ski lift but felt justified in classifying her as a bad ski driver. Her friend was also having difficulty but she could only ski right so staying to the left of her worked wonders…

So at the end of the day, I was sore and bruised and had minor whiplash. I eagerly signed up for the next weekend to try again. I understood what they said when they said it would be my worst day skiing ever but the little rush I got when I was upright for those few seconds or my body seemed to know what it was doing was exhilarating. I went again and I perfected my wedge. I am now officially the slowest skier ever but that can’t dampen my spirits. One day I may go faster than a walk, but for now staying upright, enjoying the cold rush of air in my lungs and pretending that I am athletic is wonderful. I didn’t fall at all last time, not including falling again off the ski lift but I had one time I didn’t. I didn’t need any mirrors to avoid other skiers, I can now turn while going downhill even if only mainly to the left. I skied downhill three times and I will be up on that bunny slope again soon in all my Michelin Tire suit glory. I’ll ignore those five year olds whizzing by me with no poles, for I, even in my own mind am Eddie the Eagle, an Irishwoman on Skis.


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