Tag Archives: skiing

Now it’s too late to go skiing

Man, this was the longest winter ever and I don’t feel like I took advantage of it at all. I only went skiing once, and it was in February. Yeah, the snow was great, perfect powder, that’s how real ski people, or the real ski people I’m imagining in my head anyway, that’s how they describe really good snow, powder, some really nice powder. But I only got to go the one time. Whenever it’s summer, fall, when it starts getting really cold but it hasn’t snowed anywhere yet, I always have these visions of me driving up to the mountains every weekend, really taking advantage of that powder, hitting the slopes, getting in some serious downhill time.

But I don’t have a car. And I work every weekend. My days off, well, it’s not the same every week, but it’s Monday, it’s Tuesday. Which, now that I’m thinking about it, those should be great days to go skiing, nobody else on the mountain, all of that powder to myself. But it’s never that easy. My days off finally arrive and then the next thing I know, it’s Saturday again, which, to you, the average reader, is like Wednesday. And I’m like, man, half the week behind me, half of it in front. Where is all of my free time? How am I ever going to find a minute to sneak away to the mountains?

And so when I did finally go this winter, I was pretty conscious that it was probably going to be my only time up there. Or, I was half conscious. The talking part of my brain was just yapping really loud and fast in my head, saying nonsense like, “Wow! This is terrific! Powder! It’s only February! There’ll still be powder in March! I can still go skiing in March! I’ll definitely go skiing in March! So what if there’s no more powder, they make pretty decent snow! It’ll be great!” all while I’m handing over my credit card to pay for the seventy dollar lift ticket, the calculating reptile number part of my brain, it’s not saying anything out loud, it doesn’t have to, that’s not how that side of the brain works. But if I had to translate the thoughts going on in there to English, it would be something like, “Ha. Powder. Please. He’s lucky I allowed him this one weekend. Work. Money. That’s all I care about!”

No car, no other weekends. It’s April already. As of writing this right now, right this second, I’m told that it’s the first day of spring. That’s what they say, anyway. I haven’t left the house yet. I already got fooled once last week with some alleged promise of spring-like weather. My days off were, yup, Monday and Tuesday. And everything for that week’s forecast said fifty, fifty-five degrees. Better break out the windbreaker. I got up that Monday and did my writing, told myself I’d take the dog for an hour long, two-hour long walk, to the park, to just bask in the springtime, finally.

And I made it outside and, yeah, it was slightly warmer, but not what I would really consider warm. I thought about skiing, how in previous winters I’ve been up at the mountains and have had actual days of skiing, dressed in wool socks and down jackets, in temperatures about the same as it was this day. Then the sky got really gray. Once the dog and I got about forty-five minutes away from the house, it started raining, a cold rain. The temperature dropped. I tried to hoof it back home, but the dog had to shake himself dry every five seconds. I was like, “Hey dog! Less shaking and more walking! Shaking isn’t going to do anything because you’re still going to be wet, it’s still raining,” but that’s when you know you’re in a bad spot, when you’re just yelling at your dog, him not understanding anything, his thought process must have been like, “Man, what did I do to be dragged out of my warm house and subjected to this water torture?”

We got home. The temperature dropped even more that night. The thermostat kicked in but I already had a chill in my body. That night I went to sleep shivering, and I dreamt of being cold, of being cold but taking advantage of that cold, getting into my imaginary dream car and heading up to that imaginary mountain, abundant with imaginary powder. And I thought to myself in my dream, “See? I knew I’d take advantage of this winter, that I’d get to go skiing at least twice,” and it was one of those really real type of dreams, one where, I wasn’t necessarily thinking about it right away when I woke up the next day, but days later, when I started thinking about skiing, when I sat down to write this whole thing up about skiing, and I’m writing about how I didn’t take advantage of the winter, that idiot part of my brain chimed in, “What are you talking about? We went skiing that second time last week,” and only for a moment I was fooled, like for a quarter of a second I thought about how much fun I had upstate that imaginary second time around.

Sports, strength, hand-eye coordination

I want to be better at basketball. I’m pretty tall. I can run. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be a pretty dominant player on the court. I play once a week, and I always imagine the other team’s perception of me, of my game. Everybody’s shooting around, everybody’s sizing each other up. Then I line up for the tip off. I jump for the ball, hopefully it’s not even close. But after that, I worry that I’ve already peaked.

Sure I can sprint down the court really fast. Yeah I can stand right under the basket and block any inside shots. But rebounding? More often than not I’m just swatting the ball away. It’s like I can never get a grip. It doesn’t matter if it’s well within reach or just slightly out of my arm’s way. Even though I know that I should be grabbing the ball and bringing it close to my body, I always wind up just slapping it, like it’s a volleyball game, a bad volleyball game.

It’s got to be a coordination thing. Sometimes the ball will bounce right at me, and I’ll still miss the rebound. Passes that should wind up directly in my hands sometimes hit me in the face, followed by my own hands, also hitting me in the face, trying unsuccessfully to follow the ball, to get some sort of a hold on the object of the game.

After ten minutes of game play, the other team is on to me. As long as they can move the ball around and keep it outside, the majority of my advantage is successfully neutralized. On offense, I’ll score a couple of baskets every game, really just due to a combination of my height and dumb luck. But I don’t know. I should be better. If my brain just knew what to do on a second to second basis, I think I have a basketball player’s body. Something’s got to click eventually.

I wish I were a better skier. I’m fearless. So it’s not any sort of built-in inhibitions holding me back. It’s the technical aspects. I’m really good at holding my legs together and going straight down the trails, but where’s the skill in that? Where’s the technique? I’ll be effortlessly flying down the mountain, not really doing anything other than standing there on my giant skis. And then I look to my sides and I see these seasoned pros artfully dodging moguls and cutting symmetrical zigzags in the snow.

I try to do that. If I cut the snow on my right side I can kind of do it. I have to be going really slow. But I can’t get my body to swivel at all the other way. My right leg always gets stuck trying to bend. I’ll fall over trying these techniques out at slow speeds. Again, it’s not a matter of a lack of practice. I go skiing every season. It’s got to be an internal block, some kind of resistance holding me back.

When I was playing hockey growing up it was the same problems, a miscommunication somewhere between my brain and my legs. I could never really get the hang of the hockey stop. And when I did, when I finally learned how to stop after my parents sent me to a weeklong intensive training camp, it was still only on that one side. No matter how hard I tried on the other, I’d always wind up cutting the blade into the ice at too dramatic of an angle, instead of slowing my momentum I’d stop way too abruptly, falling and tripping over my own legs.

Whatever, sports are supposed to be fun, just a way to blow off some steam. But still, even though I know I’m doing this stuff purely recreationally, I still get into it, I still want to get better, sink more baskets, master those moguls, stuff like that. I have the energy to do it. I even have the knowledge of what I’m supposed to do, in theory. But in the moment, my body is always moving much faster than my brain. I’d love to be able to stop and think it through, but it’s usually the case that I get my moment and blow it before I even have a chance to realize where I am or what I’m doing.

I really don’t take myself this seriously. I just wish I were better, faster, stronger. And I wish I knew how to play lacrosse, and golf, and motocross, and hang gliding also. Hot air ballooning, skateboarding – I’ve never even been able to ride a block on a skateboard – cross-country skiing. I’ve never played tennis. Maybe I’m really good at tennis! I’m terrible at ping-pong. There was this kid at college that destroyed me in Super Smash Brothers every game, regardless of what character he picked, it didn’t matter that I was Captain Falcon every time. Sure I’ve changed a flat tire now and then, but oil changes? Coolant leaks? If I ever break down in the middle of nowhere without a cell phone, I’m fucked, I’m at the mercy of passing strangers. And maybe one of them will come up to me and, while they’re helping me call a tow truck, they’ll be like, “Wow, you’re pretty tall. Any good at basketball?” And what am I going to say, am I going to start going through this whole boring speech about my reflexes and how I’m pretty good at defense but otherwise I’m a huge spaz? No, I’ll just be like, “Yeah, basketball. Any word on when that tow truck’s coming?”