50 Crazy Things in my 50th Year #35 – Cross Country Ski Lesson


Me, Jody, Gerry, and Lisa (front) – all survived my first official ski lesson.

I have been skiing for a few years but I would never say I’m a good skier. Senior citizens regularly pass me and kick snow in my face when I’m skiing. They’re always very polite about it of course, but none the less, I see them shaking their heads sadly at me. It’s really quite pathetic!

A few years ago I was a bit more daring on skis but then I had a couple of epic falls and it’s like my body has a memory that associates going faster with crashing. When it fell we were night skiing and it was about -20C – way too cold. My glasses weren’t just fogged up, they were frozen and I couldn’t see. Since then I have become a very fearful skier when it comes to speed and my technique is pretty much self taught. I’d wanted to do lessons for a few years – to improve my skills and techniques, maybe speed up a little bit so seniors didn’t kick snow in my face any more. I also wanted to get better, and feel safer, doing hills (see crazy thing #28). Each year, though, the timing doesn’t work, etc. I didn’t make the effort. This year Jody and Gerry wanted to do it too. I figured a private lesson for the three of us would be as good as 4 lessons in a large group and way easier to schedule.

We enlisted the services of Lisa Pahelchuk – the outstanding instructor with the Overlander Ski Club. I had no idea how great this was going to be. The first thing she did was teach us about hills as we slowly made our way out to Hoss – one of the trails I do all the time. Almost the first thing we did was a slow gentle downhill. It’s one I almost always put my foot out of the track to use as a brake on. I was determined. A lot of the going downhill instruction focused on balance, centre of gravity, and body position. I was stiff as a board but I made it down the hill… already I had progress! We worked on glide as well – she took away our poles, made us ski with one ski at a time and we went back and forth on a tiny stretch of flat trail for quite awhile. It was super hard work but it was amazing. Then we tackled more hills – my biggest fear, and I concentrated on body position. Mentally and physically the whole lesson was very tiring. As we made our way along the trail and back to the day lodge we kept working on footing, glide, and balance and the entire lesson ended up taking two hours. It was amazing and I can’t believe I didn’t do it before. Jody and I agree we’re going to work on the stuff Lisa taught us and then take another lesson next year to keep improving.

Why was this crazy?

I’ve wanted to do it for years but never got around to joining a class. This time I said what I wanted and made it happen in a way that worked for me instead of trying to fit in with someone else’s schedule. In the past I let things like this stop me all the time. The whole time I was fighting the memory of falling when I started going fast. It’s a gradual process, letting go of a memory like that, which seems unfair since the memory itself was made in almost a single moment.

Would I do it again?

I would definitely put out the effort to get better at something, particularly if it is important to me.  Skiing is very important to me and I don’t want to be tense or scared when I’m doing it. I am definitely having more lessons. I think it’s a good thing to do in just about any endeavor.


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