Ski Diva Extraordinaire
This seems like a great forum for women skiers - I'm glad I found it!
It is a great forum. I'm a beginner too, and everyone here is very welcoming! The Divas love newbies!
Today, I am thinking that perhaps I will sign up again for another private lesson or two, with the focus on strategies to get down the green run and overcome my fear of hurling myself down steep hills covered in snow and ice on boards (skis) designed to pick up speed, since walking down is not something I want to do again. Doing the bunny slope over and over is only teaching me to be really good at doing the bunny slope, and not a green run, it's clear I need to go back up there and attempt it again, though nothing has changed to make me think I'm going to be any happier doing it a second time.
Do it, do it, do it! Tell your instructor exactly the words you typed out here. I don't know yet if there's such a thing as too many lessons. Your instructor will know what to do to help you over this bump. Also, try re-thinking how you approach this. The goal is not so much to just get down this hill as it is to develop the skills needed to interact with the hill to enjoy what it can bring you. For example - the second day I alpine skiied, I was skiing in the afternoon (lesson in the morning) - it started snowing and visibility got worse. My goggles were being VERY uncooperative, so as I went down the steeper of the 2 beginner slopes, I had to navigate my way down more by feel than sight. Since there was no one there, and since I could see the boundaries of the slope well enough to avoid injury, this ended up helping me a lot, because it made my feet work hard to feel the terrain underneath.
I am interesting in knowing if anyone has started off from a similar place but gone on to learn to love skiing - or at least enjoy it and be confident. It seems like lots of different people from all walks of life learn to ski and have so much fun doing it. I am envious as I watch other skiers float by effortlessly, seeming unconcerned with tackling the next turn or steep hill, or avoiding the drop off on the side. I fear that much of my "inability" to ski is actually psychological and wonder how that can be overcome, or it it can. If it can, how? It would great to hear any inspirational stories from folks who have felt this way but gone on to overcome it.
Thank you for any thoughts or suggestions!
Pull up a chair, babe.
I grew up in Southern California. Snow, for us, is like a theme park - you go visit it, play in it, and come home that evening. You don't live in it, drive in it, shovel it, and so on. So the whole idea of having something slippery under my feet was TOTALLY foreign.
So for Christmas 2004 - between Xmas and New Year's - DH suggests we go skiing. He is an expert skier, has skied since he was 4 (he's now 55). He suggests we go to Utah - better snow, smaller crowds, and it's about the same drive time as to Tahoe anyway. We end up going to Snowbasin in the upper Wasatch. The first day, after trying to find boots to fit me and finally getting out to the ski school area, I spent an hour in a lesson with DS and the instructor. DS is making amazing progress. I.....am not. I am scared to death. The boots don't fit; they're cutting off circulation and my feet feel like they're on fire. My oh-so-patient instructor keeps the lesson moving along for DS' sake, while working with me as best he can. After an hour, DS goes to get a drink of water, and I tell the instructor that I can't walk easily because of the boot problem. He suggested we go switch out gear and lesson for cross-country; that my fear factor will end up being even more trouble than the boots, and I need to start on snow in a mellower setting.
I picked up the kick-glide pretty quickly, but was still stymied by the slippery stuff under my feet. Hills were still an issue - that first year, I side-stepped down hills that I now have been known to double-pole down on my classic XC skis.
Went back at Christmas 2005 - baby steps of progress. Still VERY skittish on hills. Xmas 2006 we were in Boston. February 2007 we went back. There was hardly any snow at all; it snowed 14 inches the night we arrived, thankfully, or I'd have had nowhere to ski! The first day we worked on the trails. The next 2 days, the trails were really icy, so we went back near the lodge and worked over and over and over on going downhill. My instructors hyper-analyzed what I was doing; we broke it down into tiny parts until I was more confident. The 4th day, there had been snow the night before and the trails were freshly groomed. Suddenly things started to fall into place. I was still skittish of the hills (now, these XC hills are wussy compared to alpine hills) but I was more confident in my ability to control my speed and to stop. My instructor reminded me that if I could get up and down the hills in icy conditions, this fresh-groomed powder would seem like heaven. It was!
December 2007 - back again. More XC. Getting better, bit by bit, on the hills. I ended up doing one of the more advanced XC courses on the 4th day, then on the 7th day I did the most advanced course about 1/2 way. Keep in mind my classic skis are 185 cm and SKINNY, so control is a really different thing from alpine.
February 2008 - at Snowbasin again (we REALLY like that place!). I do the advanced course all the way the first day (about 6 km) and we ended up hiking back to the old lodge, where we returned to the main lodge on one of the green downhill slopes. I was switching from parallel to wedge with no problems, and when we got to the bottom, my instructor said, "go over to Diamond Peak and get yourself some alpine boots; they have a great bootfitter over there and I think you can try alpine now." So we did. The next day my instructor let me go up the magic carpet with all the little kids at first, just so I could assure myself of being able to wedge to a stop. No problem. Decent boots made a BIG BIG BIG difference. It was harder to get off the carpet than anything!
The rest of that morning, we worked on the 2 bunny slopes (Powder Puff and Little Cat). Powder Puff got easier and easier. Little Cat was still a challenge. We kept up the same routine for the next 2 days, and I made good progress. I was still skittish of Little Cat after my 3rd day (our last day there, my instructor and I went to XC ski Soldier Hollow so we were gone all day).
3 weeks ago, I went up to my local mountain (Snow Summit) and took 2 more lessons. More progress, although quite gradual. I made it down the low intermediate hill several times, and the regular intermediate hill once. I had some equipment issues that held me back (rental skis and boots that we later found out were too big) but I was definitely doing much better.
Am I still scared of the big hills? Yeah, a little. You won't find me doing the Wildflower womens' downhill Olympic run at Snowbasin any time soon, but I am making progress. Mileage is everything. I am finding the more confident I am in my ability to control my speed and stop when necessary, the better. And honestly, sometimes I have to take the Nike approach and just do it. You have to know where the line for you is between healthy apprehension and wussing out.
Once I got those skills more firmly in place, it really got to be fun. And if on that low intermediate hill, I was screwing up, I'd go back to the bunny slopes and work on that skill over and over until I was ok, then go back up the mountain.
The resorts aren't promoting lessons just so they can make a buck off you. Lessons are the key to enjoying this and making progress. Every instructor I've worked with (especially at Snowbasin) is genuinely committed to making sure you have a great time, no matter what you end up doing.
I started alpine skiing for real at age 47. I am not a skinny minny. I am 5'8", and need to lose about 40 lbs. (I have already lost 37 lbs so I'm better than I was!) Aside from the weight, my health is good overall; we are active and I try to eat healthy. Honestly, after that very first day 4 years ago I never thought I'd ever put on alpine skis again - and now I not only have a full XC setup, but I have my own alpine boots too. I can't say strongly enough that if I can do this, anyone can. I've got a long way to go to be solid as a rock on the Snowbasin blue slopes, but given that I couldn't get from the top of the magic carpet to the bottom of the ski school area that first day, it now really seems possible!
Again, if I can do it, I'm sure you can do it. Take your time, take a lesson (or 5!), and take time to stop and enjoy the view from time to time.
I've also found that a pint of good beer at the end of the day, watching the sunset, is a perfect ending!
Sorry this got so long - but my path back to alpine was a long one!