Thursday, March 15, 2012

Skiing…or, how to fall down a mountain gracefully

After a rough experience two years ago involving a mountain and deep snow, I developed a bit of a fear of paying lots of money to roll down snow covered mountains (aka skiing and snowboarding). Every time I looked at a ski-jo (ski hill) and seriously thought about coming down it, I got a little bit queasy. And it wasn’t a huge problem. I’m really busy with other things most of the time, so it didn’t really affect my life.

This winter, I started mulling over the possibility of trying skiing for the first time. Some kids I know said that it would be fun, and I even tried on a ski boot at one point. Try not to be too impressed.

The first weekend in March, we had our winter ALT meeting in Furano . Well, Furano has nice ski areas, so my friends wanted to go skiing and snowboarding. I knew that I needed professional help, because all I know about skiing is what I learned from watching the Olympics and cartoons where there usually ends up being a cartoon character-shaped hole in something. CIMG5927

My instructor was not a tall blond guy named Sven. Rats. She was, however, a very nice Japanese lady who didn’t fall down laughing at me. We took our skis outside to the Kid Zone at the base of the mountain.  We practiced on the baby hill for a while. The more we practiced on the baby hill, the better I felt about skiing.

Then, my instructor dropped the bomb I knew was coming. “Let’s go up the lift,” she said. I gulped and said OK, and away we went.
We made it to the top and started to make our way down Mount Doom, and I, of course, immediately forgot everything I’d just been taught moments before. I started zooming along, out of control, then wham – I was in the snow. My instructor got me up, and helpfully explained where I had gone wrong. We got going again, and a few minutes later I looked down and noticed my skis were crossed and stuck. Wham!

The next day, I graduated to skiing with my friend B. B loves snowboarding, and she is (of course) much faster than I am. But she was patient enough to wait for me as we made our way down the mountain.CIMG5943

Here is B waiting to go up the Mega Lift Of Doom.
The Mega Lift of Doom led to another part of the ski course. Go one way, and you go down Death Mountain. Go the other way, and you go down Bunny and Kitten Paradise. I may or may not be taking liberties with some of these names. I was a little worried that I was going to manage to take a wrong turn somewhere. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

A nice thing about skiing is that you don’t fall down very much. One time I fell because yes, like my beloved cartoon characters, I managed to hit a tree. Now, it was not as exciting as it CIMG5957sounds. I just ran
through a small branch that was sticking out, which threw me off kilter. That’s when I got up close and personal with the snow. Another time, B managed to catch this lovely shot.
I wonder if I could pretend that this is one of those turns skiers in the Olympics make…nah, probably not.


Of course, snowboarders have to sit down a lot when they stop. I had to giggle when B went over to check the map. It looked like a little kid sitting in front of the TV to watch a favorite show.

Here I am, being shown up by wittle kids. I’m over to the right, attempting to ski uphill (you go slower that way).

CIMG5955Eventually, B had to leave to catch her ride home. I figured I could get a few more runs in before my train, so I went for it. Now, the whole time we were skiing, there were high school groups from other parts of Japan (Kyoto and Nara) learning to ski. So, all over the place were groups of 8-10 skiers (as talented as me), either standing in place, or skiing slowly in a line. As a beginner skier, it’s hard to have enough control to avoid other beginner skiers, let alone whole groups of them.
I can neither confirm nor deny that I may or may not have skied between an instructor and his students.
For me, though, the biggest problem of all came during my second to last run. I came over the last hill and was greeted by the students massing below.
I just waited for a while, as that part was a bit steep, and I couldn’t get a clear line on where to go to avoid running over high school students. But, isn’t the view of Furano pretty?
Overall, I had a good time, though. I was glad that even though I was a bit terrified, I did it anyways. That felt the best, I think.


Sharon said...

I loved reading of your adventures, Elizabeth. The photo journalism is superb! It is scary to see that mass of humanity standing between you-a first-time skier-and your destination. I love the sprawled in the snow picture. Thanks for being willing to share your falls.

Becky said...

I still stand by the fact that you did an excellent job for your first runs!!