Until a few years ago, I was always very eager to get back on my skis at the beginning of a new season. As I get older, I now need to push myself into that first day. It must be that, as we become more mature, apprehension begins to seep in; too many experiences – good and bad – are competing for the tight space inside our cramped memories, and the negative ones are often those with the louder voice. “It’s so cold!” followed by “I don’t think I’m quite in shape yet” or even by “will my ski suit still fit?” and “will I look good on my skis?” These reasons sound perfectly legitimate and while I hear them too, I fight to ignore them as I feel the competing urge to get back on my boards. So it’s just a few days ago that I finally made my mind up to “taste the snow” and make a few turns. I must admit that my wife helped me cross that threshold by constantly reminding me: “Didn’t you say you were going to ski today?” followed later on by “What time this afternoon are you going to Deer Valley?”
These subtle reminders left me very little room for putting off my re-entry on snow and I simply couldn’t postpone it any longer. Before I left home, I had to go through the usual skier’s check list to make sure that my entire gear was accounted for, starting with my gloves, hat, goggles, car keys, wallet and cell-phone. The last thing I wanted was to pull into Snow Park without my ski boots (believe me that has happened to me a few times before!) Once in the theater of operations, the next tough move was to slip a pair of apprehensive feet into some cold, heavy and forbidding plastic ski boots. I could sympathize with my ankles and my tender toes. After a long spring, summer and fall of unrestrained movements in sandals, clogs and running shoes, my own two feet felt like entering a maximum security prison. Inside, the old liners didn’t seem to recognize their former occupants and appeared to apply mean pressure where none used to be felt six months before.
It took me a few more adjustments to get all the buckles neatly closed and the pressure points gradually disappeared, or perhaps were they only a figment of my own imagination. I then clicked into my skis and was on my way to riding the lift. This was the point of no-return, the instant of total commitment… All went well as I rode up and as I gradually started to feel reacquainted with the wintery environment, everything seemed to fit perfectly; observing others skiers below felt somewhat weird and unreal as if I watched some ski movie and were somehow detached from the action. I reached the top, pointed my tips downhill and miracle, all the pieces of the puzzle suddenly fell into place; everything was there, even after seven long months without snow and skiing. I wanted to turn right, my skis obeyed, I needed to slow down or avoid someone in front of me, they responded too!
Sooner than I would have thought, I released the “parking brake” to taste some speed and cool December air on my face; I soon felt regenerated and all worked even better. I suddenly sensed the fun returning and I began wondering why I had not set aside a few days in November at the nearby Cottonwood Canyons. I was hooked again, and felt as if I had been suddenly reunited with my long-lost family! My legs still could do their job and I sensed all my skiing power returning, even more potent and well rested after the long summer hiatus. I couldn’t quite believe that I was doing so well; I felt all psyched up and wanting more of it. What I had totally forgotten was how skiing totally disconnects us from our daily preoccupations and how regenerating getting on the snow can be. I had left home shortly before one and told my spouse I would just stay a short hour, but soon found myself catching the last chair of the day as if no time had elapsed. Not bad for a first day; in fact, my fears were overrated and my expectations greatly exceeded!