A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about my first ski experience. Unfortunately, due to ad space, the piece got chopped by about 400 words, so I’ve decided to share it in it’s entirety here.
Sarah O. Swenson (Staff writer/Wetaskiwin Times)
I once had a karate instructor that told me “when you stop learning, you die.”
I’ve mentioned this in my column before, but for those of you that aren’t regular readers, I figured it best to share it again.
It’s a bit extreme when you think about it but I’ve always liked the idea behind it. When you stop learning, you stagnate. It’s like your brain starts to atrophy.
It’s something that has encouraged me to learn new things, try new experiences, and occasionally step out of my comfort zone.
When I moved to Alberta, I promised myself I would try my hand at more winter sports, something that (as a proud Canadian) I am embarrassed to say I’ve never really put any effort into learning.
Despite how much I love watching the game, I’ve never played hockey. Floor hockey and street hockey, yes, but not proper ice hockey.
When I was little, my mum bought me figure skates. Not wanting to hurt her feelings, I took them out once and swore never again.
Many years later, I bought myself hockey skates. On the occasional day off from work, I went over to the rink across from our house and tried to teach myself to skate.
It didn’t go so well. I could get up to a decent speed and do a few laps around the rink, but coming to a stop usually ended with me in a heap on the ice or crashed into the boards.
It was all cartoonishly comical.
That being said, my hockey skates are currently being held hostage in a storage unit in Toronto.
So with no skates, I figured skiing or snowboarding would be the ticket for my self-imposed winter sports challenge and I was fortunate enough to receive a ski lesson at the Gwynne Valley Ski Hill this past weekend.
I’m ashamed to say that I went into my lesson a bit cocky. I was a decent athlete back in my day. I enjoyed basketball, soccer, and karate. Especially karate; I was quite good at watching, learning, and mimicking proper technique.
With a good instructor to guide me, how hard could this be?
As it turns out, quite a lot harder than anticipated.
I’d conveniently forgotten how long it has been since I’ve actually participated in the aforementioned sports (read: a long time).
Also conveniently forgotten: a set of bum knees that ruined my glorious military career before it even started (that’s a tale for another time) and weak ankles that have endured torn ligaments more times that I care to count.
Now, my ankles survived. They were firmly encased in those modern torture devices known as ski boots. Seriously, ski boots are just atrocious. And they change the way you walk. It took a while for me to stop feeling like one of those wobbly baby giraffes that you always see on nature programs, struggling to stand up and keep their feet underneath.
Embarrassingly, about twenty minutes into the lesson, after mastering walking a la duck and pigeon toed (with and without skis), my calf started to cramp painfully.
The cramping came and went throughout the lesson but I was quite determined to be going down the hill at least once before my hour was up.
Which brings me to the next obstacle: the t-bar lift.
I viewed the lift the same way I view carnival rides: I am immediately leery of anything that can propel me to speeds that are faster than I prefer to go and/or potentially lift my feet from the ground.
Well, neither of those things happened and I managed to glide down the hill (albeit the beginners bunny hill and guided by my eternally patient instructor) without any Loony Tunes style mishaps.
It was a little taste of success.
A few Advil and a hot bath later, muscles that have been dormant for years are still aching. But that little sampling of success has me wanting more.
My next weekend off will be involving a trip back to Gwynne. More lessons are definitely needed because I won’t be conquering the Alps anytime soon.
Maybe by next year.