Ah, that first time!
I rolled out of bed earlier than usual for a Saturday, had a hearty breakfast with my wife, loaded our gear into the car, almost forgot to grab a pair of “very cool” ski boots (mine, that had stayed by accident inside our rather cold mud room,) got the rest of our equipment and drove to Deer Valley Resort for the first skiing day of the season.
Time does fly! This will be the 58th time I’m back on skis in my lifetime, not counting two full winter seasons in the southern hemisphere. This certainly dates me, but few will pay attention! At my age, I’m less in a hurry to “click them on” than I used to. It’s not that I lack the youthful enthusiasm of kids and teenagers, but like most people my age; I tend to become naturally apprehensive as time goes by. We might have some legitimate reasons for being more tentative, but most often than not, this early-season hesitancy is totally unwarranted.
Today happens to be my first ski day of the season and my wife offered to accompany me, as a way to lend me some moral support. It’s not that I have been off my skis for a long time either. My last day on the snow was less than five month ago, on July 4th to be precise, as I skied Snowbird on its late, late closing day. The hardest thing to do, perhaps, is to get into my good old (and cold) ski boots; will they recognize my feet? The two have led separate lives for a few months now and might not be like “peas in a pod” anymore? The fear wasn’t worth it. In spite of their temporary “cold nature,” the boots still hug my feet closely and yes, if those don’t feel the freedom that comes with flip-flops, they are held tightly, but quite comfortably. Walking in boots seems to be the only awkward issue there is…
Now, I click back into my bindings, skate towards the chairlift and board without thinking twice. As I ride up the hill, I observe the other skiers; all seem reasonably assured and appear to ski if they had not missed a beat since last season. Perhaps, they just want to psych me out and make me realize I have some serious catching up to do! I finally get to the top, point my tips down, my skis carve slightly to the left, I continue gliding a bit before getting into the main ski run, I feel my edge, let go, it’s there! I haven’t forgotten, I ski slowly and as seconds pass, gently let the speed be my guide and the momentum my engine. Turns follow and link one another, I let go of my tension. It’s all coming back now!
Early December, the sun is not quite as strong as it can get later on into the season, but I feel quite comfortable. All has been just perfect, until my wife asked me to check the vents on her ski helmet while we were riding up the chairlift. Hers were shut closed as they should have been in December. I asked her to reciprocate and tell me what the status of my helmet venting was. Not surprisingly, it was wide-open, letting the cold winter air in, in spite of my recent minimalist haircut. I must be close to brain-dead or in heat, because I didn’t feel anything. Once this major failing was discovered, my spouse asked me to raise my arms enough for her to discover that both vents, under each arm, were fully unzipped. My climate control settings obviously demonstrated adjustments made back last spring when temperatures were vastly different than today. What would I do without my better half?
On that first ski day of the season, the weather was beautiful, albeit a bit cool and we managed to do an impressive number of laps on of the many chairlifts that were opened to the public. I still remembered how to “turn’ em,” even though my first descents were a bit tentative, but now I’ convinced that I can begin another ski season with reasonable confidenc