This year I decided would be my year to either become a better skier or let it go. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the sport for many years (as I’ve written here: https://cyclingrandma.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/valentines-musings-skiing-then-now/ , and here: https://cyclingrandma.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/utah-skiing-snowshoeing-polygamy-brew/
and with creaky bones and achy muscles have felt I’m aging out. Yet plenty of older people ski forever; we’ve met people who enjoy it well into their 80s.
My husband loves the sport and our daughter has joined us in recent years. So when we booked our ski trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I arranged for three half -day lessons. I asked for an instructor experienced with older people, and someone good at instilling confidence to mitigate my fear.
To clarify: fear of heights, fear of snowboarders and fast skiers plowing into me, fear of falling and subsequent injury.
And I’m less enamored of crowds, long lift lines, and getting on and off lifts in general. Add wearing cement block type boots that cut into my shins, goggles that have to be worn over my glasses, and feeling cold, and I’m hardly a downhill cheerleader.
Robin, my instructor was very good. She demonstrated what I was doing wrong—lots of bad habits to break, and had me practice repeatedly new techniques. I weighed the pluses and minuses in my mind, and asked myself, what do I love about skiing? I came up with one answer: being outside. With that, and my knees talking to me a little each night, I made my decision.
Goodbye downhill. What does this mean for the annual ski vacation? Will I continue to go or not? Does stopping skiing test a 37-year-old marriage? I tend to think not. We have plenty of other common interests—like cycling—and other things to do on vacation. My husband can go without me once a year.
I’ve been cross -country skiing for years and rented a pair, planning to hit the trails that are part of the Grand Teton National Park. Cross country is everything downhill isn’t: no crowds, no lines, no noise. Just nature, fresh air, and great exercise.
I drove into the charming town of Jackson Hole and found my happy places: a bookstore, a yoga studio, and a yarn store. A young woman working at the yarn store shared that she’d recently stopped downhill skiing and now only does cross-country. She and her husband moved to Jackson because they worked for the National Park Service. While she no longer does, her husband is currently furloughed due to the government shut down.
As for skiing? Our grandchildren are ready and want us to take them. We’re waiting for snow in the Northeast US. Alas, climate change has kept temperatures mild with unrelenting rain. I’ll happily help them put on boots, make sandwiches and hot chocolate. Who knows, maybe I’ll even do a run or two on the bunny slope with them.
An article in the local paper here cited how people are breaking all the rules enforced by the park service in the parks. Piles of trash, overflowing outhouses, and illegal parking are threatening the local ecosystem and wildlife.
Here’s hoping the new Congress will don its skis and tackle the hardest, most challenging slopes: restoring government and addressing climate change among them.