Tag Archive | Gore Mountain

Looking ahead – life lessons from skiing

  

“Don’t look down at your skis or right in front of you,” my instructor said yesterday. “Look far ahead down the mountain, the way you want to go.”

“But what if there’s uneven terrain or something nasty right in front of me?”

“It’ll be too late then anyway. You don’t look at the hood of your car when you drive, do you?”

She was right – I actually managed to get my skis more parallel and carve better turns  when I stopped looking down at them.

Who’d have ever imagined I’d be able to improve my athletic prowess so late in life? All through my teens, I was one of those kids who dreaded gym, who was picked last for every team in every season. I especially hated volleyball, and used the “female troubles” ploy more times than was physiologically possible. In spring, when my classmates played softball, I chose tennis, which meant hiding behind the backboard out of sight of the gym teacher. Years later, as an art therapist at a psychiatric center, I generated much  merriment during a softball game with patients at a picnic because I screamed and dodged whenever a ball flew anywhere in my vicinity.

But clutzy as I am, for some reason I’ve always loved skiing. Maybe it’s my Scandinavian genes, or the fact that I can steer clear of competition and ski alone. In the past two years, my skiing has improved about a thousand percent, or so Jude, my instructor, said. We were midway down Gore Mountain, and I was taking advantage of  the Out of Control Ski Club’s free private lesson day on my last ski outing of the season.

In the interim since I’d last seen her, I took a series of weekly lessons at Jiminy Peak in a program especially designed for women, in which the lessons are followed by a buffet lunch at Jiminy’s John Harvard restaurant and then unlimited access to the hot tub and heated pool. I’m not enamored of lessons – at my age, I don’t take directions well. But it really helps to know what I’m doing, and my ego loves knowing that I can actually improve at something athletic that most folks my age are too terrified even to attempt.

So why was yesterday my last ski day? Simple – I hate spring slush. Here’s a poem I wrote about my last day at Jiminy. I took some poetic license, since my last ski day was yesterday at Gore, and I spent most of the afternoon in the bar listening to a band that did excellent covers of the Byrds, Neil Young and the like. As the poem says, I’m turning my thoughts to spring. And as Jude advised, I’m looking ahead, rather than dwelling on the muddy ground at my feet.

Were you a clutzy kid in gym? Have you gotten more athletic with age? I’d love to hear your stories. Meanwhile, here’s my poem.

Spring Skiing

 

Alone on the vast white slope of Panorama,

not a soul in sight. March is doing her early lion number,

ripping and whistling past my ears, searing my cheeks,

making me wish I’d worn my black ski mask,

my terrorist balaklava. The weathermen were wrong,

but Jiminy was right. Machine-groomed granular,

they called it in their morning e-mail –

another word for crap.

 

I’m channeling my Viking forebears,

forcing myself to face the fall line,

carving my way through piles of sodden slush.

My thighs ache from the work, the weight of it.

I picture Lindsey Vonn, flaunting her mini-skirted thighs,

flashing her gold Olympic medal

on Jay Leno’s first come-back show.

How can she be so strong and yet so slender,

not to mention gorgeous.

Me, I’m more the Brunhilde type, 

complete with helmet to guard against concussions

or sudden death. Rubenesque flesh,

swathed in baggy black pants

I’ll ditch upon final snow melt.

Next year I’ll need a smaller size – yeah, right.

 

So this is pleasure? Halfway down the hill

the realization hits me – this is my final run.

The season’s truly shifting.

Crocuses are pushing up unseen

beneath the mounds of filthy snow that shroud my garden.

Winter’s a goner – time to lay the ground for spring.

 

© March 6, 2010 Julie Lomoe

 

Too old for downhill skiing? No way!

I’ve been thinking about downhill skiing, but I haven’t hit the slopes yet this year. It’s been abnormally warm in the Northeast, and most ski areas opened much later than usual. Today my daily e-mail from Jiminy Peak reports packed powder conditions, but I know the snow is machine-made, and the wind chill is below zero. I’m putting it off till we’ve got a few inches of the real stuff, a calm, sunny day, and minimal lift lines. Chances are that means January.

I wrote the following poem several years ago, when I took up downhill skiing after a hiatus of many years. When I wrote of the skeptics who told me I was too old, I really meant my husband, but I was too diplomatic to say so. He was relieved today when I told him I might not ski as much this year  – he still thinks I’m too old, and he’s still wrong.

Downhill Skiing

Too old for downhill skiing? The skeptics told me so.

On the downhill side of sixty, my brittle bones might shatter

If I fell. My reflexes, never all that great, were no doubt shot by now.

My Rossignols, state of the art in ‘69, were obsolete today,

The leather run-away straps flat-out illegal. Now metal brakes are in.

New equipment? Rent if you must, they said – you’ll soon get over this insanity.

The skeptics spurred me onward to the slopes.

 

On the first day of downhill, I thought they might be right.

Muscles screaming in pain by mid-day, trembling, weak.

My brush-up lesson an exercise in panic, my instructor a sadistic drill sergeant.    

Don’t work so hard, he barked. Face down the fall line!

No more cowardly traverses – carve big, arcing turns!

You’ll pick up speed, but it’s all right – let the mountain take you down!

The falling was easy, the getting up, well nigh impossible.

 

On the second day of downhill, I gave it one more chance.

A four-hour twilight ticket, alone under the arc lights.

A full moon flanked by Saturn, the mountain glistening white

With dusky shadows, snow boarders hurtling by.

Fleeting glimmers of hope, elation when turns felt right.

My falls were fewer than the first time. Once, two men skied to my rescue,

Made sure I was unharmed and helped me to my feet. I have trouble too, one said.

The rigid boots don’t let you flex your ankles. It’s hard for everyone.

 

On the third day of downhill, I wasn’t quite so scared.

Another night excursion, a few more runs this time, and just one fall.

Carving huge curves through fresh powder, conquering moguls,

Remembering the sergeant’s words, facing down the mountain,

Relishing the growing sense of power in my thighs,

The sense of cellulite melting away, vanquished by muscle.

The tingling sense of well being and the hot chocolate in the lodge.

 

On the fourth day of downhill, I knew that I was hooked.

Glorious sunlight, fresh fallen snow and steeper slopes than ever.

Still the young men on snowboards, surfing far too fast,

But I’d learned to trust to fate, to share the chairlifts with them.

I promise not to kick you getting off, said one. But if I do, feel free to kick me back.

They fell often, flailing in spectacular windmill wipeouts, then popping up unharmed.

Me, I didn’t fall at all the fourth time. But if I had, it would have been all right.

 

Too old for downhill skiing? I proved them wrong.

I’ll always be a cautious intermediate, shun the black diamond expert runs.

But I’ll buy those jazzy skis and boots, be stronger, swifter than I was at twenty,

A Viking crone carving graceful arcs on my long slow downhill glide.

©2003 Julie Lomoe

I’ve gotten the jazzy equipment I wrote about, plus a helmet – I don’t want to end up like Natasha Richardson. I rarely fall anymore.  My prediction was dead right  – I’m still a cautious intermediate, and I still haven’t skied any black diamond trails. But I’ve got my coupons for free lift tickets from the Warren Miller movie, and a Value Pass for discounts at Jiminy, which is only 35 minutes from my house. And I’m still a member of the Out of Control Ski Club, which runs bus trips to Stratton and Gore with ample time for après-ski partying.

Writing this post, I’m getting more in the mood for skiing. What about you? Any downhill skiers out there? I’d love to hear from you, especially if you’re in the Capital Region. Maybe we could carpool to Stratton some Wednesday – that’s when they honor the free lift ticket coupons.