Janet Urquhart: Skiing is hard, but so is quitting
I’ve finally figured out what’s wrong with my skiing, aside from the obvious that I suck at it.
It goes against everything I stand for.
In short, my continuing efforts to master this sport fly in the face of one of my life’s guiding principles: If, at first, you don’t succeed, give it up.
It’s a sound approach that has kept me from wasting valuable time on any number of useless and unsatisfying pursuits. Golf, for example. Chess. And, believe it or not, embroidery (a lost art, for good reason).
Why I haven’t applied it to skiing, I can’t explain. I should have given up on this embarrassment a long time ago. Instead, I forget everything I’ve mastered from one season to the next and start all over again as a rank beginner, and not a terribly promising one.
In other words, I’ve taken up skiing like eight times. Logically, I should have quit skiing eight times, or at least once, assuming I could quit successfully on my first try. Apparently, quitting skiing is like quitting smoking ” it’s fraught with relapses. They should make a patch for it.
Anyway, I’m back at it and getting steamed because everyone is better at it than I am. This rankles me deeply, because I’m obsessively competitive, and not in a good way.
On my first day out, well, I don’t even want to go there. It was snowing hard. You’d think snow would facilitate skiing, but not in my case.
On my second day out, a mono-skier cruised effortlessly past me like I was standing still. Come to think of it, I was standing still. I couldn’t get down the Burn at Snowmass without multiple stops to catch my breath and rest my legs, which I can’t figure out, because I hike up Buttermilk all the time.
Not meant to malign the disabled, but damn it, people without use of their legs are better skiers than I am. Just last weekend on Aspen Mountain, a one-legged guy put me to shame. Of course, he had little skis on the end of his poles as well as the one on his left foot, so he really had three skis to my two, which may have been an advantage. That, at least, is how I consoled myself.
And then there were those galling children. Packs of helmeted midgets flying down the slopes like a swarm of bees. They come up from behind without warning, swirl around me with shouts of glee to announce their annoyingly chipper presence, and then zoom off, the last few stragglers in the bunch zipping by in pursuit of their companions.
Inexplicably, I was up early to partake of Tuesday’s powder ordeal on Aspen Mountain. On my last run of the morning, I found myself maneuvering through mounds of fluff with a glacial speed that I’m pretty sure defied the laws of gravity.
Lulled toward a ridiculously steep run by its deceptively flat approach, I suddenly realized where I was and stopped to do what I do best on skis: panic. Time to weigh the humiliation factor. Would I look worse picking my way down a run I’ve always consciously avoided, or wading through snow that buried my kneecaps to reach safer ground?
It was an exhausting hike.
[Janet Urquhart looks forward to the opening of Buttermilk. Her column appears on Fridays]
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Columnist Roger Marolt is learning to hold his breath longer during these hot, dry summers, he writes.