EMBRACING MY FEARS ON SKIIS, SOME THOUGHTS

Getting back onto skis… felt as ambitious as exhilarating a task. Given my last attempt felt much like a failure, I knew this time would either solidify my ambition to shred down a mountain gracefully or reinstate my rightful place as most prompt for après hour. 

I am happy to report there’s now hope for both. 

I have skied a few times before, but most recently, with my now husband, who managed to still propose to me after my infamous Monica mountain meltdown two years ago in Vail. He’d invited me for an annual ski weekend with a set of friends, well-versed in snow sports and newly acquainted with me. Despite my insisting a lesson with a real instructor, Arthur decided he would guide me down himself. The day ended with me sliding down on my backside while he chivalrously carried my equipment to the bottom of the mountain. 


Fast forward to last weekend in Steamboat Springs, back with the same experienced set of friends, fresh with a renewed sense of confidence in my ability to learn, I took a lesson with a lovely man named George.

Perhaps the majority of my anxiety about trying again wasn’t about failing, but more about the possibility of succumbing to my own fear. Fear that my own self-doubt would hold me back from my full potential or that my anxieties about zooming down a mountain would overwhelm my spirit. 

I had done so much overthinking about something our bodies are all capable of doing. Ironically, my instructor George told me his favorite students to teach are the blind. When I asked why, he said quite simply, "They listen," like truly listen. 

They do. So I did, too. 


I realized at this point I had nothing to lose, aside from some amazingly stylish skiwear, and a future of expensive lift tickets and ski rentals, there wasn’t much pressure on me to pick up another expensive and slightly risky habit if it didn’t work out.

So, I decided to try my best, have fun, trust my body; and George. 

We started out of course on the bunny hill, where I was more than happy to remain until I mastered a fully confident stop, a skill I had completely lost the last several times, sending me into a frenzy of control related crises. Fortunately, it wasn't too difficult a task to master  after a few solid attempts and we quickly progressed into traversing from side to side, lifting a leg, shifting a shoulder and eventually parallel turns. 

Before I knew it we were on the green preview, swishing down the mountain and I finally felt a major wave of relief, knowing I would be OKAY. 

Spending the majority of my time doing rather than thinking was important. But also feeling supported by a professional instructor, with whom I had no previous relationship with also helped, allowing me to be in the moment, willing to accept whatever was ahead. 





And I did just that. George had made a comment about how women tend to underestimate their skills and I realized I was one of them. The fear of disappointment will often slither it's way into my perception of myself and it's really something I am intent to continue working on.

After many successful runs on the green preview, George gave me the go ahead to take the gondola up to the top of the mountain and ski down just under 4 miles of green without him. After asking for permission several times, it finally occurred to me that this wasn't how it worked. Getting George's opinion about my skills pertaining to safety was one thing, but making the decision to put them to use and challenge myself was another. I ultimately decided to own my decision that I would in fact take the challenge head on, confident that I was fully capable of traversing down a green, just as George had prepared me throughout the day. 

So after an incredibly scenic gondola ride up, I met Arthur at the top and sent myself down the mountain. 


There were some fear inducing parts along the path, but overall I felt confident the majority of the way down. 

There was a long moment in which I felt completely out of control, despite my constant pizza stop stance, that just wasn't slowing me down to enough of a comfortable stop. I remember repeating what George had said earlier, that all good skiers use turns to slow down, this helped a bit considering my old scared self was considering an intentional fall to end all the uncertainty. However, I managed to stay engaged. 

Eventually, I regained a more comfortable pace and continued down the mountain with more grace. Arthur was incredibly supportive and despite his attempts to strike up a conversation I had to remain as focused as possible. Eye on the prize, the prize being a coffee with Bailey's and truffle fries. 


For the most part, in my more confident of moments, I was able to take in how absolutely beautiful my surroundings were and how excited I was to be here. The landscape was so picturesque and I realized how and why people worked so hard to maintain this love for the mountains in the dead of winter. 

I remained engaged, enthralled and grateful for a truly perfect end to a really big day. 

And I did make it down the mountain; unscathed and feeling quite victorious. 

Sitting with my love, enjoying some aprés action, I am unsure I fully overcame my fears, but I know I wholeheartedly embraced them. And, of course, this ultra warm, well deserved soak back at home. 


-MGN

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