While I certainly don’t agree with it, I can understand why many people wouldn’t venture to learn to ski after age 65. The older you get, the more you realize that life (and your body) is fragile. It doesn’t help that everyone loves to tell skiing horror stories, either. You might ski a hundred times and have an amazing day after day but do you share those stories? Of course not.
Everyone tells the story of their most dramatic day that either involved extreme fear, pain or a combination of both. For example, my brother told me the story of when he skied in college as a novice with his buddies in California, his friends took him in the trees instead of staying on groomed runs. He fell flat on his face with his skis sticking straight down and he couldn’t get back up! His toe nails turned black and eventually fell off since his boots were too tight. Unfortunately, this happened to be my first introduction to skiing, and I was left with a less than favorable impression.
Another favorite storytelling subject is “falling” which involves ledges, trees and collisions with other skiers. Then there is the story of a friendship ending day when someone is taken to a black diamond mogul run, chute or bowl that is way too advanced for them. The friend ditches them and leaves them to somehow slide or trek down alone, scared and angry.
Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? Doesn’t really make you want to grab your gear and head to the lift. Why would you put yourself through this at 65? Well if you read this previous blog, you’d know why my husband is doing it. He wants to ski next season with our three year old granddaughter. He also wants to do it right so he can enjoy himself and minimize his chances of injury. At 65, he also certainly can’t afford to waste time learning things the wrong way and then having to relearn them. He wants to do it right.
We called in the professionals. We booked a couple one-on-one private lessons with one of Deer Valley’s professional ski instructors. Since Mary Lou Mignot helped me bump up to a solid intermediate skier at the Women’s Ski Clinic Weekend, we asked for her to put together a Beginner Boot Camp for Jay.
Mary Lou got Jay from surface lifts on Wide West to the Carpenter Express chairlift in a matter of a few hours but more than that, he got a solid foundation in balance and control that will stick with him forever. The lesson began with helping Jay get a feel for the skis and enjoying the slide. He then learned to take the wedge to more of a parallel turn and control his speed.
By the second lesson, he was very comfortable on the lifts and enjoying runs following Mary Lou’s ‘S’ shaped turns and having her follow him observing and providing tips to improve. He even kept his cool when some pint sized skiers went flying out of the trees within a couple feet of him. They didn’t faze him one bit and he passed his first test for skiing with grandchildren.
There were no dramatic stories of run-ins with trees, crashes, or cliffs. He did catch the bug, however. You may know it well. It’s the bug that changes your whole perspective on life; the one that makes you excited when it snows on April 1st, where you count the number of ski days left in the season and you no longer talk of events in years but in terms of “ski seasons”. You know what I am talking about.