Rosalie spent the summer in Switzerland interviewing alpine guides about climate change. She’s hoping to return to Switzerland soon to work as a ski instructor. While she’s home, she has been helping coach JNT and the 7th& 8th grade BKL skiers. To read more about her summer, visit her blog.
As many of you are fully aware, by this time in late autumn I was hoping to have returned to Switzerland, my newfound home, weren’t it for visa issues that are holding me back—and keeping me in the Upper Valley, my “real” home. Fortunately, despite the fact that many long-time residents can attest to the rapid deterioration of New England winters, winter seems to have come early (or on time?) this year.
In order to distract myself from the visa headache (and stop the incessant need to be checking email for seemingly never-arriving news), I’ve been trying to take advantage of the November snow that generously decided to plop itself down in the northern quarters of Vermont. Also, since [knock on wood] I will be teaching both nordic and alpine skiing in Switzerland this winter, I can sort of count these outings as “work.” Well at least the alpine portion. Anyone who has ever seen me do just about any sport that involves going with the forces of gravity will find it amusing that I got hired to teach downhill skiing. So yep, I better go practice.
And I did. This past Tuesday I headed to Killington, what I assumed to be Vermont’s most overwhelming ski mountain. It ended up being totally manageable…or in my mom’s words, “just three hills.” There were great conditions, (plenty of snow, no ice), especially considering skiing in November is incredible to begin with—and on 42 trails nonetheless! Before leaving the house, my mom (who used to be an alpine skier), suggested I take a lesson. I said nah; I’ll ski for a day and see how things go. Lo in behold, I ended up walking [skiing] myself into a free lesson—with a former Austrian mountain guide! Of course. (I interviewed mountain guides as part of the climate change project I did this past summer in Switzerland, so it was pretty fitting that such a thing would happen).
Then on to Okemo I went on Friday. It wasn’t until I pushed myself off the first chairlift ride here that I realized how spoiled I was by perfect conditions the other day at Killington. Okemo was crowded (it was Thanksgiving weekend after all), so most of the snow had been scraped away, leaving the mountain a sheet of ice. I was a total wuss, even on the green trails…my normal freaked-out, afraid-of-gravity self was back.
But then I realized, if this were a training day and Scottie asked me what my goal for the day was or what I had learned, I would say, “to learn to ski ice- it’s just another East Coast condition after all!” And by the end of the day, I can say I learned just that. I sure was not perfect at it, and was definitely still scared, but I did learn one key to surviving this “snow” condition: to go with the skid, and not fight it—just like riding a bike or driving a car. So much of skiing is adapting to the conditions that happen to present themselves that day…something I am not great at, especially when it comes to fast, icy surfaces. But as long as you don’t get caught up in hating a certain snow condition, or fixating on the fact that you’re bad at skiing it, it’s easier to see the day’s blue-bird powder or sugar granules or slick, greasy bumps—or ice—as just another condition to adapt to. And chances are (as long as you’re in New England at least), that tomorrow will be a whole new day!
Then off to Trapps I went on Saturday—my first day of cross-country skiing this season…and in November to boot- wahooo!! What an amazing day. It was fun to get the feel back again, and to do the other, real kind of skiing. Hehe. And I must say, as I get older, those first five minutes back on skis seem to get less and less awkward. Boy are classic skis loooong, but other than that epiphany, there was not too much flailing. (Thank goodness because I may have recognized a few Ford Sayre folks up there!)
And if I were to come up with a take-home from Saturday, it would be that maybe adding a little alpine skiing to my life isn’t such a bad idea after all…I think I may have skied those quintessential racecourse S-turns my best yet. Nothing like getting used to going fast with super sturdy skis attached, then descending something half as steep and not even missing those edges…
Today is the REAL “big day” I’m supposed to hear about my visa (although that’s what I’m told just about everyday). So in order to distract myself yet again, I’m heading to the other neck of Vermont that’s been bestowed with many a white kilometer—Craftsbury!