I believe with my heart and soul in practice. I believe that even the slowest of us can manage to learn just about anything through repetition. This has pretty much become my life’s motto. It has to be. I’m not one of those people naturally talented at, well, anything. I’m not particularly smart, or skilled, or coordinated, but I am damn stubborn. What meager success I’ve had in life has been because if I want to learn something, I practice it over and over and over until I have at least a base level of understanding. I go to rehearsal and drill lines in preparation for play performances, I run on the treadmill in training for races, I write this blog in hopes that one day my writing skills won’t be so wretched. So why should skiing be any different?
I have taken lately to giving the evil eye to the pooh-poohers who claim the only skiing worth doing is out West. Well, if you live on the East Coast and only make it out to Wyoming or Colorado once a year, how are you ever going to get better? I like to think of East Coast skiing as going to the driving range before your big game of golf. You drill your technique, you remind your muscles of the movement, and you get your game a little bit better.
Being that I’m from Boulder, you’d think I’d be a good skier. You’d be wrong. In fact, I did very little skiing growing up and even less in high school, and I probably still wouldn’t ski if my parents hadn’t gotten divorced, leaving my dad to fall in love with a skiing addict. A few years ago, I realized that my relationship with my father, whose primary passion is now skiing, would improve drastically if I’d just get off my lazy butt and go learn. Which I did, or tried to. But once a year is about all I can afford to trek out to Colorado, and it’s not enough for me to get good. Not to mention the skiing is freaking intense there, and you need to be on the top of your game to do well. So… I started to hit the local places near D.C. for practice.
The one I most commonly drive to is Whitetail Resort, which is only a couple of hours from D.C. and a reasonable drive to do in a day. In the past, I’ve gone on weekends when it’s cold and the snow is decent, and it’s been unbelievably crowded. Yuck. But this time I went on a Thursday during our recent warm spell, and it was nearly emptied out. The resort itself is small; there is only one mountain, a hill really, with only one usable face. The runs are so short there is no character to the terrain, it’s just a clean vertical line. There was no snow really, other than man-made snow that was complete and utter slush. Sounds miserable, right? Actually, no. They have a high-speed quad that gets you to the top in 5 minutes, and with no lines I was able to do run after run after run in a short amount of time. Also, skiing with slush is really hard, which forced me to focus on my technique and make clean and deliberate turns. By the end of four hours my legs were shot, but I felt much better about solidifying the skills I had learned over Christmas.
This was good preparation for my trip this past weekend to WISP resort in MD, a longer drive (about 3.5 hours) but worth it. Though certainly not as expansive as anything out West, WISP is certainly a large step up from Whitetail. They have three usable faces on the mountain, which means more runs. In addition to the man-made snow, they had 4″ of natural snow and it was snowing the day I was there, which made ski conditions more than decent. The runs are long enough to have a bit of character, and that day the temperature was just cold enough to the prevent the snow from getting melty. I could already feel the practice from Whitetail paying off, and by the end of the day I found my legs were barely tired. My muscles were finally getting used to skiing.
Truly it was the perfect day. Not only because I had the chance to practice, but because being with my friends in an atmosphere other than a bar or a party is fun and refreshing. We get so caught up in our city lives that sometimes we forget that. And no matter how bad the skiing conditions are, that is always a lesson worth practicing.