Today I played “ski bum” by skipping work and heading out to the mountains. After a gorgeous drive out with no traffic on I-70 (hooray for leaving on a weekday morning!), I arrived at A-Basin and was able to get in about a dozen runs. It was definitely a little bit icy – which is to be expected for early season – but I did pretty well, and found myself really comfortable on all the intermediate terrain. I wasn’t straightlining, by any means, but I was definitely taking a more vertical approach than carving wide turns like you do as a beginner.
Around 4pm, I called it a day and then headed over to Breckenridge, where I met up with my roommates for the weekend – the awesome Bold Betties group. I had only done one event with them before, and I actually didn’t know a single person on this trip, but they turned out to be a blast! We had a wonderful Friday night cooking dinner at our gorgeous rental home, sipping wine (and homemade moonshine that one of the women brought – delish!), and getting to know each other.
Most of the women in the group were taking snowboard lessons the next day, so I ended up skiing on my own and planning to meet up with them for lunch. In the end, I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time with all the women as I would have liked, but I do feel like I made some great friends and will look forward to meeting up with them again soon!
Since I had spent the previous weekend skiing solo as well, I knew the drill. I popped my headphones in and headed up Peak 8 on the Colorado Superchair. And for once, I decided to ignore my usual MO of starting out on something super easy: I went right for the intermediate Crescendo, got back to the base pretty quickly, and then headed for the Rocky Mountain Superchair, which had a shorter line. At the top of the lift, I zoomed down Pathfinder to build up enough speed to cross over a bit of flat terrain, and then plunged quickly down North Star.
Okay, so all of that probably means nothing to 99% of you. But the previous week, I had been pausing at the top of North Star (an intermediate trail) and honestly getting a little scared. When you cross over to get to the top of the trail, you’re usually going pretty slow from the flat section to get there, and so pausing at the top is natural. Furthermore, North Star has a bit of a steep drop right at the very top, but then it smooths out and is squarely intermediate (and probably even an easy intermediate) the rest of the way down.
What I realized this weekend was that I needed to just go for it without really stopping/thinking/staring at the trail. Rather than tentatively turning my skis to the side and starting the drop with a gliding horizontal wide turn (and a slow speed at which I inevitably would slip a little bit), I needed to point my skis downhill and go fast and fearlessly. Far from being scary to take the plunge right down the slope, it ended up being really fun to do that part – and I could feel that my technique was much better and my attitude more confident! I spent the day actively seeking out the steep sections of trails and seeing how many I could string together on a single run, rather than doing more of the easy terrain and minimizing the drops.
This was corroborated even on the not-so-steep portions of some of the other trails. Any time I went on an easy trail or adopted that beginner skiing technique of taking wide S-shaped turns and cutting straight across the trail, I lost a lot of my skill and my confidence. But when I pointed my skis downhill and used my hips to alternately drive one ski and then the other into the snow (slowing me down but not really going back and forth or turning my skis horizontal), I skied well and I felt great about how I was doing.
When I went skiing last weekend, I learned that I’m better than I think I am, and that I should really push myself harder on trails that test my abilities. This weekend, I validated that by finding that if I’m on a trail that’s too easy or that I’m taking easy, I’m actually shakier on my skis and I’m not going to do well. But I also learned this weekend that there’s no room for being tentative in skiing – I need to be fearless and just take the plunge to go straight down the mountain. Sometimes, harder is easier, and so it doesn’t make sense to be afraid of a challenge.
Life lesson as well? Probably.