Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Why I don't ski

This is Ashleigh McIvor. She is a skier.

This is me (on the right -- just in case you thought I was one of the hot young things). I am not a skier. See the wineglass in my hand? Drinker, not skier.

A month or so ago, Jen posted about her adventures in skiing. I laughed and laughed. And then I remembered why it is that I don't ski.

Growing up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, I did a lot of cross-country skiing with my mum and sister:

It was fun and good exercise and almost obscenely healthy, but not really that exciting.

While in high school, in Windsor, Ontario, I went on a class ski trip to Pine Knob, Michigan. I was a total newbie on rented skis. While my expert skier friends went off to more advanced slopes, I grimly headed to the bunny hill to teach myself to ski. It didn't start off very auspiciously. I watched the skiers ahead of me effortlessly grab the tow rope that led up the beginner hill, and ride it up to the top. ' Right. I can do this', I thought. I came up to the tow rope and grabbed on tightly, like I'd been told. My ski mitts were immediately ripped from my hands and thrown 10 metres uphill, while I stood there, not moving.

After several attempts and several mitt retrievals, I managed to get to the top of the bunny hill and began a slow snowplow downwards. I didn't fall more than 5 or 6 times on the first descent. And after snowplowing down a few more times more successfully, I decided that maybe going fast would be fun. So instead of angling my skis towards each other, I stood with them parallel, then crouched slightly and pushed off. I skied speedily down the bunny hill, past the chalet, into the parking lot and into the side of a Jeep Cherokee.


It was a number of years before I tried skiing again. Fast forward to the early nineties. I was living in Toronto, and a group from work organized a day trip to Holiday Valley in Ellicotville, NY. Several carloads were going and meeting there. So, at O dark thirty in the morning, I crawled into a car with my co-workers Dave (old university friend), Glenn, and a gorgeous, funny Aussie girl with dual citizenship (her parents were Canadian, but she'd been in Australia all her life). I can't remember her name for sure, but I think it was Jill.

The fun started at the border crossing into Buffalo. We pulled up to the guard kiosk, our ID at the ready, and when the surly male border officer asked our citizenships, Dave, the driver, answered "All Canadian". This was apparently not good enough for Mr. Officious. We each had to say our citizenship out loud. This is what followed:




"Identification, please."

He really didn't like that Jill had a Canadian passport and an Australian accent, but grudgingly had to accept it -- after doing everything but X-raying it to ensure it was legitimate.

When we arrived at Holiday Valley, I skied the bunny slopes with my friend Trudy, who had come in a different car. After a while doing that, I felt brave enough to graduate to the next level of slope, which necessitated taking the ski lift halfway up the hill. I was doing pretty well, but was skiing about as conservatively as I possibly could -- wide sweeping turns that were using the entire width of the slope each time -- you know, so I could avoid going faster than a brisk walk and peeing my pants in fear:

Trudy zipped down the slope, waiting patiently a few times for me to catch up, and after wasting spending a couple of hours hanging out with me, she left to ski some of the more advanced runs. I kept on keepin' on. Wide, snowplow-y turns taking me from ditch to ditch, seeing if I could ski very slowly without actually stopping (and keeping an eye out for Jeeps). It was the end of the afternoon and the light was starting to fade. It had begun to snow. And then, this one time (at band camp), I miscalculated and didn't make the turn in time.

I skied over the edge and tumbled into the ditch. I landed on my back with my feet further up the hill than my head. My butt broke through the ice covering the stream that was flowing down the ditch, and so I was lying there on the ice with my ass in the water, unable to get up. One of my poles was just out of reach, but the other was still strapped to my wrist. I lay there for a couple of minutes, in shock, but then the cold trickle of water soaking into my nether regions convinced me that I needed to do something soon. I struggled, but couldn't get up. With my remaining ski pole I stabbed ineffectually at the release mechanism, so I could get my skis off and get to my feet. But it was hard, trying to raise my head up and look uphill at my feet. In the snow and decreasing light.

And then I heard the first shout from above. "Are you OK????" I looked up. Yes, I had fallen in the ditch that was directly under the ski lift. The situation looked something like this, only I was lying in a stream, which is too hard to draw, even for someone with my amazing Microsoft Paint skills:

And so for the next 15 minutes, it went something like this:
  • Alison flails about like a landed salmon trying to take off her skis.
  • "Are you OK?"someone calls down from the ski lift as they pass over her.
  • "I'm fine!", Alison yells and flails for 1.7 minutes, which is the time period between ski lift chairs passing directly overhead.
  • "Are you OK?" calls the next good Samaritan from the next ski lift chair.
  • "I'm fine!" Alison yells with forced good cheer and flails around for another 1.7 minutes.
  • Hysterical laughter from Dave and Kevin as they pass over on the ski lift.
  • Alison manages to release one ski and works on the other for 1.7 minutes.
  • "Are you OK?" calls the next good Samaritan from the next ski lift chair.
  • "I'm fine!" Alison yells and starts stabbing at the other ski boot, finally freeing herself and dragging her tired, cold (and wet) self out of the ditch to meet Dave and Kevin, who have skied down to help.
I decided that I was finished skiing for the day. Or maybe for my lifetime. I'm thinking that maybe it's better that I don't ski again. I'd hate to be responsible for some poor family having photos like this of their ski trip:

You know, when they get out of the hospital and have recovered enough to upload them.


  1. HAhahahahaha *snort*. I'll ski to that. I mean drink.

  2. Natalie3:28 PM

    Too bad I didn't know you back then. Between the two of us, we would have cleared the ski hill.

  3. You made me laugh so hard I cried into my drink.

  4. This winter a friend of ours was going to Colorado to ski. He laughed at me when I said I didn't see the point in climbing to the top of a mountain and throwing myself off the top on two sticks.

    Yep, he laughed and left for Colorado.

    15 fractures later - and he won't resume walking for several months yet - I still think I was right.

    Go figure.

  5. PS: Wine is much much easier on the bones.

  6. I'm laughing so hard that I'm crying and mascara is running down my face, so now I look like a freak.

  7. Biblio - Yeah, me too. But guess whose 10-year-old tried skiing in early March and loved it? Now she wants us to go skiing as a family. Yikes.

    Nat - That would have been funny. For other people. You need to tell me your skiing stories.

    Jen - Sorry. Hope it didn't get too diluted. :-)

    Jazz - Yes wine is *definitely* easier on the bones. Did you say 'I told you so' to your friend?

    Jen - Sorry that I spoiled your mascara and made you look like a freak. Hmmm, maybe you could launch a career with the freaky makeup:
    1970s - Alice Cooper
    1980s - Ozzy Osbourne
    1990s - Marilyn Manson
    2010s - Jen on the Edge?

    Grab a guitar, and a boa constrictor, lol.

    Wait, you're wearing mascara??!!?

  8. I am so with you on this. I have no athletic ability whatsoever. Neil, on the other hand, goes skiing for the first time in Colorado and successfully tackles the black slope on Day 1. I have told them that I am perfectly happy to go to the resort with him, sit by a fire, or in the hot tub and drink wine, while he can ski and teach our children to ski.

  9. Well, since I've reached 59 and three quarters without ever having skied, I think I'll just leave it at that now....

  10. I think you've got your BOLO Post! Bring the diagrams,too!! I've skied once in my life and it was pretty much as horrible but not at all funny. I broke out in a panic sweat every time I saw a hill of snow for years after that

  11. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!! The baby is asleep on my lap, and I almost did myself an injury trying not to burst out laughing at Stick Alison's misadventures.

  12. hahahahaah! Love this one...

    I went downhill skiing once to impress 'some cute guy' ended up getting lessons from his much nicer but not so good looking friends, but still went home alone after I wipe out that left my knee roughly the size of Montreal.

  13. SaraJ - Don't those natural athletes piss you off? I'm with you, I like the fire and hot tub.

    Isabelle - Why ruin a perfect record?

    XUP - You'll have to tell me your skiing story over brunch sometime.

    Velocibadgergirl - I hope he managed to sleep through the mommy earthquake. I kinda like the sound of 'Stick Alison'.

    Nat - And that's why we shouldn't try to impress boys. I hope the knee healed soon.

  14. but it's so much funnnnnnnn

  15. Your mad photoshop skills slay me. I'm totally with you, and I've only been skiing once. In fact, I thought your squiggly diagram was of my first attempt. My friend/instructor kept yelling, "turn to the left" and "turn to the right" with increasing agitation until he finally threw up his arms and said, "Oh fer crissake, fine, just ski dead strait ahead and see how much fun you have when you try to stop at the bottom of the hill." 15+ years ago that was, and I'll successfully evading skiing ever since!!