By Joe Stevens
Hello everyone –
Let’s go back in time a little bit, like the early part of the 1997-1998 ski season as that was the last time that I skied. That means it has been over 25 years since I used two planks to get down the hill, instead of my snowboard.
The streak of only snowboarding came to an end on Saturday, February 26, 2022, as I stepped into my skis and headed down a Winterplace Ski Resort slope. Accompanying me on my voyage was my son Christian and his friend Ace.
Both of them are pretty good skiers and were patient with this sort of newbie. It was January 1, 1985 that I actually got my start in this winter sport on a pair of 180 Atomics. It was at Massanutten Ski Resort in Virginia and remained a two-planker until the aforementioned 1997.
You know, I am really glad that Christian pushed me over the edge to ski again. Let me stop and thank Morgan Long at Ski Barn near Winterplace for providing my equipment for the day. When I told her I was going to ski, she thought I was kidding her, knowing herself how long I have been surfing the hill. All she could say was, “Get out of the way.” I couldn’t agree more actually.
No seriously, it was good to go on the other side of the aisle, so to speak and see how the other half gets down the mountain. Let me just say those first couple of turns were interesting to say the least. To be honest, I probably should’ve gotten a step down in the length, but you know that ego thing.
Oh well, muscle memory back and it was fun not having Christian having to wait for me at the top of the lift, while I strapped into my board.
What did hit me in the face like a ski aside the head was the intimidation factor. What I mean by this is the good skiers and riders basically playing chicken with the not so good skiers (that includes yours truly). Or the folks who just stand around and in a group of say five or six, right at the entrance of the lift maze. Most of the time I just maneuver through them, but today, getting my ski boots under me, well I am just glad I didn’t take out all of them like bowling pins.
I am also surprised about the lack of communication out on the slopes. Again, this usually doesn’t bother me when I am on my board, but today was a different story since I had skis under me. That sound of an approaching skier or snowboarder over your shoulder put me on edge a couple of times as if I was about to have a collision.
Taking all of this into consideration, it was awesome to reach out of my old man snowboarder comfort zone and see what it was like to use two pieces of equipment (actually four if you count the poles) to get down the hill. You may ask, and even if you don’t, I am going to tell you as it takes up space in the column, I plan on doing this again, but truth be told probably not on a Saturday.
Now to another part of today’s excursion to Winterplace. Christian has a friend, Evie, who had never skied and was really wanting to give the sport a try. Due to busy schedules for everyone involved, we couldn’t make Evie’s first turns on the slopes happen until today.
I have preached to Christian throughout his years on skis that it isn’t a good thing for a friend or relative to teach another friend or relative how to ski or snowboard. I have and still do say it’s always best to have a ski school instructor take care of the teaching task. That’s what they are paid for and who the heck wants to learn anyone else’s bad habits. It is just the right thing to do.
So, we set up Evie with a one-on-one lesson beginning late morning with Brooklyn, a PSIA Level One instructor from Winterplace’s Ski and Snowboard School. I really recommend this type of on the slope learning if it is at all possible. Group lessons are fun if you know everyone in your group, but you just can’t beat that one-on-one time. Especially for a never ever individual. It’s just the way to go.
The duo caught up with us after lunch and the smile on Evie’s face told the whole story. Having the one-on-one time gave her plenty of opportunity to learn the sport the right way and the safe way. Oh yea, there were plenty of stories of where she fell here or there (mostly in the lift line), but we all have been there a time or two or even three.
Christian and his friend were eager to make a couple of runs with their “skiing” friend after lunch and see and hear for themselves the joy of playing on the slopes.
Why I am telling you all this is because the ski industry spends millions and millions of dollars every season to attract new skiers into the sport. There has been a focus recently to convince parents to help get young people into the sport.
What I learned today about the whole experience with Evie is something that should be hitting the industry square in the kisser, word of mouth. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, I am here to say it is just that simple.
It just took Christian enjoying the sport to entice a friend to join him on the slopes. So, what would happen times this by say a few thousand or so. What we would get would be new young skiers in the sport, sounds simple doesn’t it? On top of that resorts might be able to save a few dollars.
So, it was fun to be back in the saddle again and to see a new skier looking forward to their next trip to the slopes.
That’s it for this week, thanks for joining me for my weekly turns on the laptop. Just remember whether it be cold or whether it be warm, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. Hope to see everybody on the slopes as the season rolls on for everyone.