I’m pretty sure I’ll never really be a winter person. But it wasn’t until yesterday that I’ve realized that I’ve completely wasted the past 22 winters of my life.
In honor of the upcoming winter Olympics (which I ultimately hate every aspect of, but that’s a blog post in itself), I’ve extended my foray into wintertime sports going to Indiana’s Perfect North ski resort. Yup, in a mere 10 days you will see Chris Uberti tearing up the Alpine downhill ski slopes.
Alright, probably not. But my first crack as skiing went surprisingly well. Given my past experiences with sports (Baseball, Tennis, Soccer) I don’t consider myself a coordinated person by any means, and my ability to stay upright on a bike should be considered a miracle. Heading to the Midwest’s premier ski resort with the Purdue Cycling Club I sincerely believed that I would be shredding the gnar on the bunny hills all day long. When we actually pulled up to the hills and I saw first hand how steep the hills were and how fast everyone was going, I nearly wet myself. I’m used to the gradual switch back climbs of cycling…that and the biggest snow covers hill I’ve ever been down is the massive 100 foot Slayter Hill here at Purdue.
So we all get booted up (by the way, cycling shoes are a piece of cake to walk in compared to ski boots) and head over to the “Learning Area” full of people going down something that could barely be considered a downhill at a speed that makes snails feel fast.
So after some coaxing from Brian and his friends (all of whom have been skiing a few times before), I followed them to the chairlift to one of the blue runs, which seems like an easy color. Besides, I was feeling confidant. I had, the day before, watched a whole five minutes of instructional YouTube videos, on how to ski: Pizza and French Fries are all you need to know.
After a full three runs, I decided to hit up a black/blue hill, which in the Midwest the increased difficulty apparently means just a slightly steeper hill. Skiing, as I found from each crash, is really about some simple rules, In addition to junk food. First, you don’t corner with your inside ski, you just end up on your ass. Bend at the knees. Don’t lean too far back. Look where your going. Use your knees to turn. Going fast is really a lot of fun…but someone like me has absolutely no control at those speeds. And finally it is really hard to stand up after you’ve fallen down, especially on steep hills.
We even hit up the “Terrain Park” to hit some sick jumps. Here’s a video I expertly took of Brian shredding some gnar:
Once the sun went down the resorts lights came on and you automatically felt like you were going a lot faster. Plus, after 7 pm the place cleared out. We were able to ski from the run right onto the chairlift, making it so the only time we spent off the skis were when we were going up the mountain. By the end of the night I was able to hit the black diamonds, and only crash spectacularly once each time down. This was a great improvement over the five times I crashed the first time I tried a black diamond. I didn’t feel too bad at that attempt because between my third and fourth crash on the run, I saw a snowboarder eat it on the same hill and slide nearly a half mile on his back.
I never really mastered the art of skiing in one day but I did really start getting the hang of it towards the end of the night. The absolute fear I felt at the beginning of the day was down to a mild adrenaline high, and I was really have a lot of fun. So much so that everyone from our group left a whole hour before and the people who I gave a ride down had to call me to tell me they had been waiting in the lodge for half an hour for me to finish.
This might sound cheesy and like a South Park episode, but I really learned something from this trip. With school and cycling I’ve really been doing the same thing over and over for a while: mainly just school and cycling. While both of these things are fun and all, they are very familiar to me by now, and with familiarity comes comfort. I know exactly what to expect and have some confidence in myself in both areas. Because of this, I’ve really forgotten how much fun it can be to do something that is really foreign and outside my comfort zone.
That is part of the reason I got into cycling in the first place, because it wasn’t your suburban Baseball or Soccer. It was something completely weird and I seemed to be good at it, and the reason it was fun was because it was so challenging and when I put effort into it and I was able to get better. That’s not how everything goes, I know. I spent a lot of time playing sports like Baseball and Tennis and never got very good, which was frustrating. I guess I realized that because of this fear of failure I haven’t been going outside my comfort zone for quite a while in many ways. Things like my job search and school have been progressing a tectonic plate velocities pretty much for this reason.
Insert generic ‘sports teach you life’s most important lessons’ analogy here.
I applaud anyone for making it through the cheesiest two paragraphs in this blog’s history.