By Zander Frost, Chronicle Staff Writer
I returned to skiing for the first time in over ten years.
Well, more like 17 years. But I’ve been keeping it vague so people don’t worry about me.
I admit it. I was nervous.
I was a pretty good skier as a kid. We went on trips to Tremblant and spent many days at West and Gore.
I would go with my Mom and brother.
I’m not totally sure why I stopped skiing. I think it was a form of teenage protest. Asserting my independence.
Now that I have to pay for it myself — wow. World’s dumbest protest.
I should have asserted my independence some other way, like dressing emo or smoking cigarettes.
I’ve always wanted to go back, especially after I’ve moved home from Los Angeles.
Winters are depressing. Skiing gets you outside. It’s a thrill, it’s fully engaging. It makes the cold into something appealing and exciting.
So around Christmas I bought boots at Sports Page, thinking if I sink a few hundred dollars in, I’ll actually commit to go.
Then I bought a Gore Frequent Skier Pass.
Basically I had to sink enough money in that my financial advisor would drop me if I didn’t get on the mountain.
Last week I finally bought the rest of the basics.
So a friend — an avid snowboarder — and I drove up to Gore on Sunday.
Beautiful day, beautiful drive.
I enjoyed it — excited that I was about to go skiing.
Then we turned into the Gore property and I stopped enjoying it. Oh no. I’m going to go skiing again.
What if I fall? What if I can’t get off the chair lift? What if all of those little kids with oversized helmets are better and they come bully me?
Luckily I’d rented the skis the night before. I wasn’t about to turn back now!
The clerk was in visible pain as she adjusted my ski bindings — informing me that she had wiped out three days ago and could barely move her shoulders.
“That’s just how it goes,” I replied to her. Like a total pro.
I had my gear. We suited up.
“You’re wearing all black,” my friend pointed out.
“I’m not going for style,” I replied. I’m going for survival.
“Should we start at the Gondola?” my shockingly ambitious friend asked.
“Let’s not get cocky,” I said.
“Okay…Do you want to start over on the bunny hill?”
“Okay we can be a little cocky,” I replied.
“Let’s do the chairlift.” I said, flexing my biceps.
But I never got too confident, lest my expert snowboarder companion lead me down a Double Black Diamond like Lies.
We settled on the Sunway Chair for the first run.
First thought — things are high-tech now! A scanner opens up a gate. It’s like the New York subway.
We enjoy the ride up the lift. But towards the end, my heart starts to pound.
“You can tell them to slow the lift down,” she tells me.
“I don’t need it!!” I reply through gritted teeth.
It’s moving slow, but now we’re at the top. We come around to the drop off…
And I stand up and ski down around the corner, no problem.
And thus starts the best day I’ve had in months.
It all came back quickly.
First run was great, Sunway down. No problems, working out the kinks.
By the second run, we were on Blue Squares.
Twister, Headwaters, Cloud — it was like revisiting old friends.
I was far from perfect. I caught some edges and almost fell. But each run I got stronger, remembered something else.
Sometimes I still had to remind myself to lean forward.
We flowed across the mountain all beautiful day.
Spectacular views, mostly nice people, and ended with great chicken wings and Coronas & lime in the lodge.
I was struck by the great moods everywhere. Where else do you see such happy people during the depths of winter, other than a ski mountain?
Who wants to go skiing?
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