When I first thought about signing Reid up for skiing lessons, I was mostly thinking about her being comfortable on school trips. Multiple trips to a local ski hill seem to be a ritual here in Ottawa for grades 3-8. We know lots of families that ski and it seemed like a basic living-in-Ottawa requirement. Then, I got thinking about what Reid would say if I signed her up for another sport that I can’t do. (I’ve never played ice hockey.) And I thought about how I write over at Losing it in Ottawa about the importance of being active.
And so it was, that Reid and I both started learn-to-ski lessons at Camp Fortune on January 9th. I had talked up my excitement about learning to ski at the same time Reid did and we were both keen on the way to our lessons. Ken came with us to help manage all of the newness. We were headed to the lesson meeting places, when Reid stopped suddenly. She had heard that I was going to the red flag and she was going to the blue flag. Reid had thought, I learned, that we were taking lessons with the same instructor. We coaxed Reid into going over to her class and Ken watched a bit while I hurried over to my own.
Reid’s class spent the first day on the bunny hill and magic carpet lift but made it onto a bigger slope the next week. The small kids ski without poles and also without fear. Reid can be a bit timid sometimes but skiing lessons aren’t one of those times. She learned how to make “pizzas” with her feet (snowplow) and eventually moved on to “french fries” (parallel skis). The kids link their turns to ski across the hill as they ski, just like adults do. Reid’s instructor – a teenage boy – is great with the kids. He’s playful and physically engages them but still keeps them in line. It’s pretty cool to see a line of 8 little kids snaking down the slope behind the instructor and even cooler when you recognize your own kid in the line. As we end our skiing lessons, Reid skis on the same four slopes as I do.
It’s a bit humbling to learn a new physical skill as an adult. I’d skiied a couple of times years ago but now that I’ve had 8 classes (we missed a weekend for Sulienne and Ryan’s wedding), I can’t imagine what I looked like that first day. I’ve learned so much and have so much yet to learn. During the first lesson, they taught us to snowplow and turn and took us to a slope. Okay, it was a gentle one but I was still scared. I fell 3 of the 4 times I got off the chairlift and several times on the hill. Thank goodness for the patience of my instructor and my own stubbornness!
As time went by, we left the two easiest slopes and went onto two slightly more challenging ones. Each was intimidating at first and became less as we practiced. Funny how new challenges work like that.
Last week, I noticed a near-empty slope at the top of a T-lift. Since the slope we were on was crowded and we’d never been on a T-lift, I asked if we could try it. The instructor – a substitute – agreed that we should go. I like to think our regular instructor would have reined in my enthusiasm. The slope was SO steep! It made me queasy to look down. Once you’re up at the top, though, you have to get down and walking looked like it would be as hard as skiing. I skied – scared – and fell several times but it was steep enough that standing back up was easy. At the bottom, I was victorious and humbled. We all headed happily back to our more familiar hill.
On the way, one of the women in my class told me that she thinks she’ll skip lessons next season and just buy a membership. I was surprised. That last hill had convinced me that I need lessons next year. Being able to ski on 4 slopes out of 23 doesn’t seem like a good time to stop.
Reid and I have much to tell Ken at the end of our ski trips. We’re both hoping that he’ll be persuaded to sign up for lessons next year.
It’ll be fun for our whole family!