Last week was an extra short week because not only was Monday Family Day, but on Thursday my coworkers and I took the day off for a little team building. We went out to Sunshine Village in Banff for a day of downhill skiing. All of my coworkers are all pretty good skiers…most of them ski pretty regularly, my boss goes backcountry skiing all the time, and one of my coworkers used to be a ski racer. But…I don’t know how to downhill ski! Luckily our co-op student doesn’t know how to ski either so he and I signed up for a full day downhill ski lesson.
It was an absolutely amazing day on the mountain. The sun was out in full force and it felt really warm out. We had six people in our group, but there was a distinct difference in how quickly people were picking the skills up. For me…sure, I’ve taken one downhill lesson, but I needed to get more comfortable on slopes. I spent the morning perfecting my snow plough on the bunny slope while our instructor concentrated mostly on the other folks.
We met up with our coworkers for lunch and swapped stories of our adventures on the slopes. After lunch it was back to the bunny slope to learn the art of turning. I was grinning from ear to ear as I was having a great time. I could actually understand why people enjoy downhill skiing! With an hour left our instructor had decided that three of us had mastered turns well enough that we could hop on the chair lift and try an actual run. Our instructor went ahead with one lady, and my co-worker and I were in the following chair. All we were told was to raise the tip of our skis and lean forward when it was time to get off the chair lift. What he failed to mention was the huge down slope as we’d get off the chair lift! I grabbed my co-worker’s arm as we attempted to get off the chair lift and we wound up falling to the ground in a big heap. We had to scramble out of the way as there were people behind us. I felt a bit better as the next two groups after us also bit it as they got off the chair lift. Phew! It wasn’t just me!
We carried our skis and walked a short ways to our run. I was nervous…this was a long run! Our instructor assured us that it wasn’t all of that different from the bunny slope, it was just longer. The other lady in our group was freaking out and I tried to calm her down. She was crying and wondering what she was doing up here. Yikes. She took off ahead with our instructor. As I took off I tried to remember what I’d learned on the bunny slope and put it into action…shifting the weight to initiate turns and slowing down with the snow plough. In the beginning I was doing okay…but then a ways down the run I got a little out of place and I wasn’t able to control myself. I couldn’t turn left and I couldn’t stop with the plough. I didn’t even think to fall (as I think I was leaning downhill). Instead I kept going…straight ahead…and I crashed into the other lady in our group! The one who had just been freaking out a few moments before.
It was pandemonium. We lay on the mountain in a heap and I did a quick check and nothing hurt. All of a sudden the lady I ran into yelled out…”My knee!!! My knee!!!”
She looks at me and yells, “What are you doing up here if you don’t know how to stop?!”
Now….it was a complete accident. It wasn’t like I was gunning for her, and I felt terrible!!! We were helped up and everyone was okay. Her knee was just fine. Phew! And our instructor tried to assure me that he knew it was an accident and that these things happen. Can I reiterate that I felt absolutely terrible?
It was as if in that collision though there was a complete transfer of energy. She took off down the hill and wound up having a pretty successful run down. After that my confidence was shot and I felt as though I forgot everything. I didn’t trust myself to turn or slow down properly. I was so frustrated because I was having so much fun before…then I lost that feeling. And because of the time I didn’t have a chance to work past that lack of confidence. The one run down was it. Sigh… I’ll have to make another attempt at downhill skiing before the end of the season as I don’t want to carry this lack of confidence for too long.
At the bottom of the hill I ran into my coworkers, we enjoyed a beverage and shared stories, and then it was back to Calgary. I would have loved to go straight home spend the rest of the night relaxing (this downhill skiing is tough work!), but I had my final cross country ski lesson to get to in 45 minutes…