Captain Adventure

I was going to start this post by telling you that I’m not a very adventurous person, and then I took a look at my life lately and wondered if I was wrong about that and I deleted it. The Bike Rally, travel, everything that happened this weekend… maybe, I thought, maybe I am becoming a brave and fierce adventurer as I get older. I thought about that while I packed up our things, tucked two kinds of knitting in my bag,  and I realized that I am pretty much the same. I am simply easily led, and have friends who adore escapade and fear nothing, and (in particular) a husband to match. Let me tell you about our weekend.

Joe is part of the team working on the National Music Centre in Calgary. He’s been flying back and forth every so often to work here a little, and he had to work here this past week. He looked at my schedule, and remembered that at some point in the year gone by, I’d said that I might maybe, possibly, consider giving skiing a go.  It has always felt very unpatriotic that I can’t, and Joe can, and as the kids leave us behind, we’re looking for things that we can do together – things that can replace the excitement of a houseful of teenagers. Now, to be fair, I thought that when I mentioned the skiing thing, that we might bounce off to Blue Mountain (a small place here in Ontario) or maybe go nuts and try Mont Tremblant. I forgot who I was married to though, and the next thing I knew, Joe had put together that he had to be in Calgary, that I had a free weekend, and decided that since he had to come west anyway, that it would be very economical and clever indeed, for me to learn to ski in the CANADIAN ROCKIES. For the record, I do not recall specifically consenting to this, I was just suddenly on another Joe ride.

We flew to Calgary – Joe did what he had to do – I went along for a site visit, man, the new National Music Centre is going to be something…

sitevisit 2016-03-28 nationalmusiccentre 2016-03-28

and then we got in the car and I drove us (poor start, Joe forgot his drivers license so I lost a ton of knitting time chauffeuring) up to Lake Louise, and we had a good sleep, and then the next morning, bright and early, we toddled off to the ski hill.  Joe had decided, for the sake of our marriage, that this adventure should start with skiing lessons – proper ones, from an instructor.  We rented our skis and reported to Club Ski – where in an incredible stroke of good fortune, and even though we’d only paid for group lessons, I was the only beginner in the class, and me and my new best friend Brett “hit the slopes”. By this, I mean we went to the bunny hill where I learned how to put on skis, and we spent the rest of the day there, with me learning (more slowly than I can tell you) how to stand up, how to move forward, how to snowplow (it’s a way of stopping -vital information, I tell you.)  At 10:30am Brett was skiing backwards in front of me while I clung to his hands like he was the last life raft on the Titanic, and by lunch, I could slowly cruise down the “carpet” (that’s what they call the bunny hill to make it sound less babyish – it doesn’t work) doing the slowest linked turns you have ever seen in your entire life, while swearing involuntarily (and a little hysterically) the whole time.   Joe’s got a video of this – I thought I was going so fast that I could scarcely breath – in the film, you can see that toddlers walk faster.

I practiced the rest of that day, and things got a little better. The next day we went to Sunshine, and things got a little better again.  I got off the bunny hill and on my first ski lift with the fabulous Brett. (Joe was off skiing off cliffs and skiing down sheer faces while leaping rocks and doing moguls.)

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(This picture was taken before I tried to get off the ski lift, and invented several ways to do it, all various forms of horizontal. I fell getting off the lift five times in total, and at the end of one particularly catastrophic attempt I only had one ski.) I skied my first green run – top to bottom, all standing, and then my second green run, mostly on my bum – with a return to near tears, swearing, and one particularly low moment in which I referred to Brett (openly, and with real feeling) as a lunatic.  Then we came back to the lodge and it turned out a lady in the other group had gotten hurt and I excused myself very civilly and cried in the bathroom for about 5 minutes.   Joe was in another group than I was and he was such a good skier. I was… not.  I sat there in the loo and I realized I had a choice. I could give in to every instinct I had and go out there and tell Joe and Brett that I was too scared and I couldn’t do it, or I could make the most of it and hope that I wouldn’t break an arm. (I felt like I could cope with a broken leg. Preferably the left one.)    I went out and I told Brett I was ready to ski, and you know what? I did.

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I skied a green run successfully three times that afternoon, and the next day we went way up high at Lake Louise, and I got on and off the ski lift without falling every time, and I skied a really long run, all the way from the top of the mountain down, and I even skied a run that was way, way too hard for me by accident (Brett was really sorry – apparently you don’t know what the groomers or ice have done to a run until you get up there – and then there’s only one way down, dammit) I wasn’t able to ski it without a return to language unbecoming  a knitter, and I sat down (quickly and in the snow) to save my own life twice, but the important thing is that I skied it.

I skied it all, and with a little gracefulness, and no more tears, and when it was over, Brett said that I was a going to be a good skier, and that if I could ski greens in the Rockies I could probably ski greens anywhere, and I didn’t totally believe him.  Brett’s a great guy, and all of that, but we did give him money to spend time with us, and so I felt like I couldn’t entirely trust his position, so last night I checked in with with Joe.  I asked him what I was supposed to say now if someone asked me if I could ski. “Should I say that I can sort of ski? Do I say I can ski, but badly?”

“Steph” Joe said, “You can just say you can ski.”

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So hey.

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I’m a skier now.

194 thoughts on “Captain Adventure

  1. That’s more than I can do. I took one lesson at age five on skiing and all I remember is that to stop you turn your skis into a pizza slice.

  2. I am so excited to leave the first comment. I’ve been watching the Instagram feed and seeing that you became a skier and I must just say that I admire you SO MUCH!! You were WAY out of your comfort zone and just off that completely unexpected extra 5 days in Mexico and just WOW. You are still the Queen of Knitting, but after all you’ve been knitting since you were four. Taking up skiing as an adult. Well. Again, just WOW.

  3. Good for you and I believe that you are so much braver than I am. But at the time I didn’t have an encouraging husband, just a lousy boyfriend.

  4. That is sheer brilliance.

    I am not a skier.
    Today, I’m not even sure I’m a knitter.

    But you are. And that is rather awesome.

  5. The first time my friend and I tried to ski, we go to the slopes several hours before our lesson. Armed with rental skis and complete ignorance, we decided that the green run was the easiest so we’d try that. We couldn’t walk to the nearest chairlift because we kept sliding backward, so we tried a different one.
    It took us 3 hours to get down that slope. We eventually took off the skis and walked down to our lesson. We were very relieved to discover the bunny hill.

  6. At Whistler there is a green run allllll the way down the mountain — in the summer it is a road, so really, it is a perfectly reasonable thing to go down. But it goes on forever! I haven’t skied for ages… decades. Congratulations for persevering!

  7. I love skiing even more than I love knitting (sorry, but it’s true) and I am so glad that you had this adventure. If only I, too, could ski in the Canadian Rockies!

  8. You are so funny and I’m so proud of you!! I’m too scared and too old to start breaking my legs or worse, lol. A skier I will never be.

    • I so agree with you! I put a pair of skis on once, in my thirties, at the behest of my husband, who was sure I would enjoy it. They were cross-country skis, without quick release bindings. I fell over almost immediately, and could find no way of standing up again that didn’t involve the indignity of someone dragging me to my feet. Then I realised (I know enough about mechanics) that if I fell backwards and sat on my ski, my leg would break just above the ankle. My husband’s response was, “Well, don’t fall backwards.” Uh?

      I took the skis off and never tried again.

  9. Congratulations! That’s awesome! Probably a good idea to learn to ski out west. From what I hear the mountains in eastern Canada are often very icy making it trickier to turn, especially when learning. But I live & ski in BC so I may be biased.

  10. All that time on the bike? It totally paid off on the skis. Might seem unbelievable, but you’ve got muscles the average frequent flyer does not. Good on you! (For the record, I’m a native of a state famous for skiing and at 17 I looked at the trip down the mountainside, reviewed my physics lessons and decided that if I lived, I’d take up some other activity that was safer, like playing in traffic.)

    • I love that last bit – like playing in traffic! I was lucky enough to learn to ski when I was small enough not to be scared (bless my saint of a mum)
      A working knowledge of physics does put a damper on strapping your feet to sticks and sliding down a mountain! :))

  11. Despite your reported fear and trepidation, you look so relaxed and beautiful in the photos. Kudos for trying, and also sticking with, something new and exciting.

    Heavens, that was the third time you were away with Joe, just the two of you, this year! It’s so great that both of you are getting in some R&R together after all these years.

    Thank goodness you didn’t break any bones, especially an arm. The horrors of not being able to knit for several weeks would be too much to bear.

  12. Way to go! Now you need to come to Vermont, where the ski mountains are way easier than the Rockies, but just as fun.

    • I love Killington! I learned on the smaller ski hills here outside of Buffalo. A green hill at a smaller resort is definitely different from a green at a larger resort!

  13. Soon you will be skiing and knitting… At the same time!! (I am still amazed you can walk and knit!)
    You go girl!

  14. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

    I think you should be very proud of yourself– we (the Blog) certainly are!
    You are very brave, strong and invincible– an inspiration on many levels. Hurray for you! :)

  15. I think you’re quite adventurous! And Brett is right, if you can ski in the Rockies, you can ski pretty much anywhere.

  16. I learned to ski seven years ago and I have finally started to enjoy the ride down the hill and not to try to keep up with people skiing their whole lives. Now you have to knit some ski sweaters!

  17. Great job! You are a skier….I am a skier but not very good at it. My son is very good at it and he gives me a lesson everytime we ski with him and then tells his dad (who is on a snowboarder–you avoid those guys on a lift!) not to give me advice and just let me have fun! It avoids a lot of of tears on the slop and I actually get to have some fun!
    Peggy

  18. Way to go! My kids laugh at me because I ski so slowly. I criss cross back and forth but I make it down. I tell them I’m getting my money’s worth and enjoying the scenery on the way down.

  19. Welcome to the Rockies, woman! I came out here and was taught by a very patient Spaniard. Keep it up, then the moment will come when your ski buddy is stopped on the hill, looking up, waiting for you… and then he realizes that you’re already at the bottom, waiting for him. That’s a good moment. Welcome to the brave knitters club. We also do a lot of whitewater kayaking and tequila.

  20. Congratulations on being brave! Being brave is an action not a feeling and you did it! Last year I tried Stand up Paddleboarding. (on a lake) Not nearly as big a deal as skiing but for me it was a challenge. Trying new things even though it’s hard and we might look very foolish. You rock!

  21. Congratulations! I have been skiing for years and still have to give myself a pep talk at least once per run. But despite the terror, it’s oddly fun now. I hope you enjoyed it, too!

  22. If you can ski a green in the Rockies you can ski a blue most places. You can ski! Welcome to the club. It’s fun. Like knitting, it’s a club featuring broad abilities!

  23. My god, woman…
    You are amazing. In the 7 years that I’ve “known” you, you have conquered one fear after another. From a woman who fell every time you tried to ride your bike, you’ve become a coordinator of a huge bike rally.
    From a woman who was a bit leery of travel and crowds, you’ve become someone who hops on a plane at a moment’s notice and organizes knitting conventions.
    And now you’re a skier!
    You are a true inspiration.

    • Amen to all of that!

      Steph, you’re the perfect example of why the world should never, ever underestimate middle-aged women! You’re a trail blazer in a bunch of ways.

    • Amen to this!! I’m also reminded of a long-ago blog post written when you were still doing lactation consulting/labor coaching. You wrote about the power & beauty of watching a woman reaching deep into her psyche to find the courage to give birth. While skiing ain’t exactly childbirth, the conquering of fear of the unknown is the same. It’s huge! You continue to inspire with your willingness to embrace scary stuff you never thought you could do. BRAVA.

  24. I am so thrilled for you. I tried downhill skiing once, and I did NOT stick with it. I fell off the lift, I fell down the bunny hill, I fell down the greens. It was not for me. Cross country, I love it. Downhill, you can keep. I do admire your sticking with it until you felt more comfortable. You got it!

  25. Did Brett know how lucky he was to have you as protoge? Did HE learn to knit? I’m doubting that he can purl in the dark or cable, or use double points…

  26. Skiing Steph!! I am definitely impressed and admittedly envious. (Especially that you mastered the ski lift!)
    I live at a latitude north..much north than yours. Do I ski? Weeelllll….it’s more like I sled on cross-country skis. Is that a hill? Quick! Sit on your skis!
    I know how hard it is to learn something new and how much easier it is to make excuses not to do it.
    You are a constant inspiration.
    A 21 skein salute for Steph!!

  27. Now you have an excuse to knit ski hats, ski gloves, ski cowls, ski sweaters…you clever girl. Good on you for giving it a go. I spend MY time on ski slopes knitting inside the lounge while my family does the falling down in the snow business. Call me a coward but I prefer to be warm and intact.

  28. How can you see without glasses? I’m so blind without glasses. I had to use glasses and goggles together. Ski can be scary. I love to sit in of the fireplace in the lobby and knitting. I’m more like tube gal.

  29. I grew up in southern Wisconsin, where there are no mountains (though there are some pretty epic hills near Wisconsin Dells from when a mountain was knocked over during the last ice age). I don’t do snow in any way, shape, or form. I don’t skate, I don’t ski, no hockey, no sledding….don’t like it. So, go you for skiing :)

  30. Thanks for the laugh! Reading this was hilarious!
    YAY for being a skier – not something this chick is ever gonna try. DPNs are scary enough for me!

    Oh, just got my first Yarn Harlot book – Knitting Rules. LOVE IT!

  31. Steph, you should be so very proud of yourself!! Taking up skiing after age 35 is so difficult, and you were brave enough to keep tackling it.

    I have to say you are especially lovely in the pictures WITHOUT your glasses on! Again, please.

  32. Good for you! This totally brought me back to my first time downhill skiing. My friends brought me to the top of the mountain and said: Go. I lived but was completely traumatized (and I fell getting on and off the lift, of course). Fast forward many decades later, you’ve inspired me. I will try again–hopefully at Banff and I’ll ask for Brett.

  33. So cool that you learned to ski in my back yard. And can I say how cool it is that Joe is working on the NMC? I’m looking forward to the real opening in July.

  34. I am impressed! Green slopes on the second day! Be proud. Be very proud.
    Brett is right. If you can ski green slopes in the Rockies you can ski green slopes everywhere.
    I’ve been skiing 47 years, and I like to say if you are enjoying yourself while skiing, all is good. Enjoy where you are, ability wise, and don’t compare yourself to others.
    Just have fun!
    Oh, good for you! Good for you!

    • I agree. If you’re smiling you’re doing great! I learned 50 years ago when I was three, but certainly had some of my best times on snow cruising the green runs with friends. Skiing is a sport that really brings a feeling of camaraderie. I’m glad you got to enjoy my happy place.

  35. Oh, I am SO envious! I froze on the Easy Hill (next step after Bunny Hill) and had to be skied down by the instructor.
    Told to rest and come back tomorrow…nightmares and tears all night. Bottom line: I’m okay to be a non-skier. More power to you!

  36. Loved this! I’ve lived in Switzerland since I was 8 and never learned to ski. That is, until I had a Swiss husband who’d learnt at school and three Swiss daughters who all learnt at school, so I thought I’d better do something about it – when I was 38. I actually love it, though I’m not very good and as we get older we have both become more careful, but there’s nothing like being up on the top of the mountain and the great views and the sheer exhiliaration of being able to get down in one piece! (And if you ever ski in Europe, don’t panic, the easiest runs are the blue ones! I can manage all those and most red but avoid black like the plague, unless you get on one by accident, like you did, and which has also happened to me!! Eek.)

  37. Good for you!
    I’m a ski instructor myself. Did you know you can get your Level 1 ski instructor’s certificate at 16? I did and I was terrified of my adult beginners until I grew into myself as an instructor. Since the initial shock of being 16 and teaching “real adults” how to ski, they are always my favourites. That’s where I learned the bulk of my (impressive) swearing ability. I’m always amazed at the tenacity of people who stick with skiing when they learn as adults. It’s hard. It’s particularly hard when the six-year-olds whiz by but keep at it! You are incredible. And I bet you taught Brett some particularly salty language while you were at it.

    • Ugh, those six-year-olds (or 5 or 4…). I decided to switch to snowboarding and one little guy thought he should slow down and give me some advice. It’s a good thing snowboards don’t come off as quickly as skis…

  38. I had a serious case of deja vu reading your hilarious account of learning to ski. Crying in the ladies, falling off lifts, feeling like I’m travelling at 100mph then being passed by a toddler on skis , I’ve definitely been there. On my last ski holiday in Colorado I took my skis back 2 days early after a particularly terrifying moment when I completely froze halfway down the mountain and thought I was stuck there forever. As I could barely speak to the guy on the ski hire desk he suggested I went to the bar for some Dutch Courage! I spent the next two particularly snowy days in the base lodge with my knitting. Seriously, I am impressed that you got this good in one weekend. Brett must be so proud of his star pupil.

  39. Dear Captain Adventure,
    This morning I woke up feeling time escaping me in the form of our boys growing too fast, and it frightened me. It made me sad, too, though I know they’re becoming happy responsible adults who still (despite all we’ve done to combat it) appreciate time with us parents.
    Then I saw this post and remembered how much fun hubby and I have together, and how often we cherish our stolen moments as the boys get bigger but still require our presence and guidance. And I remembered that, while skiing is NOT going to be one of our things, there will be lots of other things that are ours.
    So thanks, Capt. Adventure, for sharing your fun and bringing perspective and hope once again! ;)

  40. This reminds me a lot of my first (and only) time skiing, except that I didn’t get as far as you did. I went down one real run and was freaked out the entire time. I’ve never tried it again. I figure life is too short to do something that freaks me out and hurts. But it looks like you’re well on your way to being a skier, and it looks like you had fun!

  41. Isn’t it amazing? I decided to learn to ski when I turned 40 (like you, here in Maine I was in a minority not knowing how to ski except on flat land with X-C skis). I started with lessons too, and did the introductory lesson twice – the first time I was the class flunky – at one point my instructor sent the rest of the group to meet us at the lift and turned his full attention on me! The second time, we put the kids in a lesson and while I was learning how to put on my skis, they were waving at us from the lift over our heads – they learned really quickly, of course. My best advice — keep going, and don’t hesitate to take a more advanced lesson. I find myself absolutely giddy when I’m moving fast and in control – I never imagined I’d ever do this!

  42. Wait – who are these people? Who is this totally hot guy doing something high-level with a new national music centre? (Jealous; I don’t think we here in the US have a national music center.) And where did my knitting role model go? I wanna read about your struggles overcoming lace mistakes in Kid Silk. The cursing involved in any pattern that reads “At the same time…” The joy of thousands of knitters coming together at Rhinebeck or wherever. But no – this morning I get “I didn’t die going straight downward with twigs on my feet; in fact, I’m not all that bad at it.” Sigh…..you know The Knitting will take revenge, don’t you?

  43. I am seriously jealous. Your instructor was right. If you can ski green runs in the Rockies you can ski greens anywhere!. I only skied 6 times last winter and I am a person that would ski 8 days a week if I could. I am glad you had fun!!

  44. Congratulations! When I was much younger and in much better shape, I went skiing with my boyfriend. I hit 2 trees and missed a broken leg by sheer luck. Both my boys ski like champions… and my best friend does too… I sit in the chalet and knit. Also I’ve taught several skiiers to knit. Especially when I was knitting my granddaughter a pair of orange, pink and purple tights… because apparently weird hats are a *thing* with skiiers and they all wanted to learn “how to do that”.

  45. Brett is correct, if you can ski a green in the Rockies you can ski a green anywhere. But I am somewhat disappointed that there is no picture of Brett holding a sock.

  46. That’s awesome! I’m not quite thirty yet, and I keep finding that I end up learning, or needing to learn new things. The fear of starting isn’t getting any smaller. But hey, if you can learn to ski, I can learn to play guitar.

  47. Congratulations! It’s a good feeling to overcome a fear and win! I went through the same thing with skiing many years ago. I also have done it driving myself in San Francisco–I think that one was scarier!!

  48. Oh my dear Stephanie–you have so eloquently summed up the exact feelings I personally had, not only with skiing (many years ago, can’t do it now), but when I tried to learn to golf. I am gobsmacked you cut your teeth on the CANADIAN ROCKIES!!!! If I had been asked to learn to golf on say, St. Andrews in Scotland, I would have passed out. You are so brave lady!

    And you totally are a skier :)

  49. Just one more reason that you are my hero Stephanie, so proud that you stuck it out, just like I did 30 plus years ago. Now, I need to buck up and give it another try. But I did learn how to snow shoe this winter and loved it.

  50. Wow!! Way to go! You are absolutely a skier! I was watching your Instagram feed this weekend as I spent to the Easter long weekend skiing at Big White with my extended family, and my granddaughter, on skis for the first time. I was just thrilled to be able to ski with her.

  51. You go girl!! The EKG tech said that to me while I was getting the required test for my pilots license ( at age 60). Learning something hard and new keeps you young. You have had a big dose of younger and braver this year. Congratulations on daring to have fun doing something new and difficult; and being able to wear contacts !

  52. Congratulations, Steph! Do they do pond-skimming in Canada (dig a big hole at the bottom of ski run, fill it with water, and then skiers attempt to jump/skim over the pond to other side)? It is usually the last day of skiing. I am thinking about getting good enough at skiing to try this next year (it was very warm this year and I may have been touched by sun!).

    First time I went skiing, I allowed my friend’s friends to talk me into learning from them. We got to the ski lift, I was 3 feet from where I needed to be, and the chair knocked me into the lift operators’ booth. My skiing did not improve from there!!!

    So proud that you did it right, and that you stuck with it! Way to go!

  53. Congratulations on becoming a skier! I can’t think of a more beautiful place to learn. I was a skier when I was younger, but my knees don’t cooperate now. I remember many times sliding down hills on my butt or my face – neither particularly comfortable – but also the exhilaration of executing beautiful turns in new powder.

  54. I obviously don’t know you personally but I wanted to say how proud I am of you and how much hope you have given to a very un-brave knitter who has dreams of grandeur.

  55. Congratulations, Steph, Joe and, of course, Brett. You are now a skier. I used to ski in the Laurentians, north of Montreal. I really miss it. The last time I skied was 1968. No decent skiing where I live now.

  56. You are much braver than I. After my first scary fall, I sat in the lodge and have not attempted skiing again. BUT, my daughter, the snowboarding adventurer, went to Alaska, rode a helicopter to the top of a mountain and snowboarded down! Congratulations to you, skier!

    • So I am not the only West Michigander who doesn’t downhill ski (yet). I dabbled in cross country (loved it) but never seem to make time for it. Snowshoes are a blast! Stephanie is inspiring. We are near the same age and if she can do it so can I!

  57. Bravo! I’m happy for you! I think Joe made a good decision – last month, I did not. I took my husband skiing and, with my small and very expired experience, tried to teach him. We got lessons the next day.

  58. Well done Steph!!!! You are so funny. This experience reminds me very much of the first time I tried snowboarding. I spent the whole day on my bottom with very unbecoming words flying out of my mouth as well!

  59. Life is meant to be lived. For each of us, that is something different, but in the end, I want to look back and know I lived – that I had experiences that drew breath out of my body; I tried things that made me scared, cranky and despondent; that I loved hard enough to be deeply hurt and fairy-tale happy.

    Thank you so much for sharing this; it “woke me up” and brought many thoughts to my mind’s eye.

    BTW, I sort-of learned to ski (with very bad self-image and deep fear) in my 30s — but now I see I really grew inside by the trying. I had my first and only child at 45 and at 49 really started to ski in earnest – now at 59 living near Park City Utah we ski every weekend. Only now do I feel like I can ski without a stomachache – but I still have fear. I justify the fear by saying it keeps me keen and safe. I’m so very proud of you. If you can ski a green there you can ski a green anywhere! Way To Go!

  60. Honey I am the wipe out queen on skis. Have been forever. So you are doing AWESOME!

    I’ll stick to chauffeuring and knitting while I wait for the skiers to come back to the lodge.

  61. My first three years were exactly like you described (crying, falling, swearing, having nightmares that I was falling off the mountain). And then, suddenly, it started being FUN! It just happens when allowed enough time.

    Too bad ski gets in the way of knitting. Those bulky ski gloves are terrible for needle handling! ;)

  62. Congratulations!

    I’ve lived my entire life in a state with the Rockies — Colorado — and have never learned to ski, nor do I intend to try it now. But good for you.

    You know, Stephanie, there is no language unbecoming a knitter.

  63. Congratulations!! I am so proud of you. I lived in the Colorado Rockies for 40 years and never got beyond falling off the lift most times and sitting at least a couple of times coming down. I did love being up there.

  64. Hey! Good for you! That’s a skill better learned prior to age listed in double digits, but you did it!! And yeah, if you can ski green in the rockies, then you can probably ski blue anywhere else. Try going to the east coast of the US. All the ‘mountains’ there are rounded and sortof flat. All their hills are varying degrees of bunny. Joe will be bored but you’ll feel like a rock star. :)

  65. May the love and joy resplendent in your faces remain with you always, growing and changing with your journey. <3

  66. This sounds remarkably like the one and only time I went skiing with a group of girlfriends, all of whom could ski. Right up until the part where I did a complete somersault and landed sitting on my knee. That took 6 months of physio for a seriously busted cruciate ligament. I haven’t felt the need to have another go!

  67. I’m your age, and a few years ago I took up cross country skiing…smaller hills, great exercise, and you can do it forever. I still sit down to save my life regularly, but it is so beautiful where we go, here in the B.C. Southern Interior. You might like it, if you try it.

  68. You are a better woman than I. I, too, feel strange that I can’t ski as I live in Vermont. I have tried. I have realized I should stick at what I am good at, so now I just sit in the lodge by the fire drinking. :)

  69. Why is it we oldsters always seem to learn the neatest things when we are…older?

    Here I am at 58 years old learning how to….turn wood..at a lathe! Yes! Me! Wood turning! I am about to learn how to take apart my CPW (Canadian Production Wheel) and put a new leather bearing on the front maiden! I am going to actually make the bearing, take the maiden apart and put the new one on.

    I have never had so much fun in my life and been absolutely terrified at the same time. Wow! What a life!

  70. Wow. You can ski! Now, you just have to learn how to ski and knit, at the same time! (Either that, of recreate the ski/parachute jump at the beginning of “The Spy Who Loved Me”.)

    Now, as for language unbecoming a knitter? Ain’t no such thing, unless you forget to spray spit when cussing in Klingon. Replacing the excitement of a houseful of teenagers? Easy: Mix one or more soap operas with a barrel full of hyperactive monkeys. Stir well.

  71. What? You only fell 5 times getting off the lift? You’re a born skier! When I learned to ski, I cried for the first whole day, then decided this was one sport I was not going to sit back and watch my husband do, dammit!! I’ve been skiing and loving it for 35 years now! Way to go Steph!!

  72. When I was 17, I was a foreign exchange student and my family took me downhill skiing for the first time in the Austrian Alps. I also had lessons; the morning went the same as you described, snow plowing, but then the teacher said we ready to go to the very top of the mountain. I could go on about what it was like when my beginner class got up there, but let’s just say that we were all paralyzed. One girl got hurt trying to snowplow on ice. The instructor had to carry her and lead us down the wrong side of the mountain, which was less steep, and there wasn’t much skiing involved. Hours later we got to an empty chairlift that took us down the hill, but unfortunately to the wrong village. It was dark. He told us it was his first day as a ski instructor.

    I never got on downhill skis again. But I’m really glad you had a great teacher and you persevered!

  73. Petal, you are an example to us all. From the bottom of my heart. And I am grateful beyond measure that I just turned 66 and that there is not one possibility in this lifetime that I will have to apply this example to learning to ski. Other scary things, maybe. But here I’ll just stand in the lodge window and give you a big thumbs up before I go back to my wine and knitting.

  74. You’re a skier! We did some mountain biking on a course on our recent break. I decided to try the big curve thing (bowl?) and I told my family that however high I went in that bowl – it would be higher than I’d ever gone before. I said the same thing when I tried rock climbing – and that time I made it to the top! SO – you skiing (at a pace less than toddlers walk) was you skiing FASTER THAN YOU’D EVER SKIED BEFORE!! And now you are clearly skiing as fast as you’ve ever skied – green runs and all! Go you!

    • And also – I think it’s absolutely fabulous that you and Joe are focused on spending time together. We are quite a bit further back on that trail than you (our youngest is 8) but we always tell the children when we go out, that we need to like each other still, and have fun together, when they are gone. Critical. Well done you guys.

  75. Congratulations on becoming a skier! Even though I water ski, I think calling me a snow skier would be an extreme exaggeration. I broke my nose the first time I went and sadly, that was probably my most successful trip. These days, I stick to water skiing in the summer & knitting by the fire in the winter.

  76. Oh, Stephanie. You did it! Congratulations. You must be on cloud 9 with all you’ve accomplished of late.
    You even pushed through the indignities of learning to ski as an adult and came out the other side–as a skier!
    The story brought tears to my eyes, as I was one of the lucky ones. Even though I grew up in Wisconsin (not known for its Rockies), I learned to ski as a kid and our whole family skied for many years. So many fond memories of times together, yodeling on the chair lifts with my parents, and many, many great runs together.
    Enjoy your new hobby with Joe!

  77. Reminds me of when I took a motorcycle class and got to my “crying in the loo” moment but it was outside just before we were all supposed to ride in a circle and all I could picture was me falling over and each student behind me piling into me and each other in succession. I didn’t cry, but I raised my hand and excused myself from the class and did not learn to ride a motorcycle. Worked out okay for me, we bought a trike conversion for me instead, but I am in AWE of you for persevering.

  78. Congratulations Stephanie! My first ski day went just like yours. My sister and I had gotten lessons and equipment for Christmas, but she never again got back on skis. Its worth it! Just wait ’til you go down your first black run. And I learned in the U.S. Rockies, so you know you got some of the greatest snow on earth!

  79. Congratulations, and well done you! I am allergic to heights, and cold, and snow, falls, and sudden stops. So although I applaud your courage and determination, I am not going to be joining you on the slopes any time soon (or ever). I consider I have had my fill of adventure when I have made it down the slope to the driveway and up the slope from the driveway to the road on a snowy day while being towed by an eager dog. This from someone who used to terrify her erstwhile race car driver husband with her devil-may-care driving skills, that once prompted him to say I drive any vehicle from a family sedan to a panel truck as though it were a race car. Different skills, different attitude. I am happy for you, but I don’t envy you one jot!

  80. Yay you! I’ve always thought the ski lift was the biggest hurdle to overcome for new skiers (or snowboarders). I ski and snowboard (definitely better at snowboarding), and I swear – no matter how well I did on the hill side, it was getting off the lift that was the biggest challenge. I went skiing once with an old friend who thought I could handle an intermediate slope. My first warning sign that I might not be ready was when I nearly killed myself getting ON the lift. Kudos to you for sticking with it! I agree with Joe – you are a skier!

  81. How are you not adventurous? You write books, you speak in public and now–YOU SKI (that’s a short word for “going downhill fast”). You, my dear, are adventurous.

  82. Good job, Stephanie!
    One thing: “in the film, you can see that toddlers walk faster.”
    By my standards, as I chase my girl while shrieking, “Put on your hat, put on your hat!” that means you were going pretty damned fast, lady.

  83. Bravo Steph, I think the title you were looking for is Lady BadAss Skier. I was a rare non-skiing Native Minnesotan when my husband (like yours an avid skiier) planned a trip to Lake Louise. His rationale: if I skiied in the most beautiful place ever I’d have to love learning how to do so. I took said class, ruled the carpet, but made the mistake of doing the green trail right after lunch having been persuaded by my in-laws it would be a cinch (yep you read that right, my inlaws were also on this epic trip). 1/4 of the way down I skiied into a preschool skiiing class, teaching them French all.the.way.to.my.demise. My husband knew he had lost the battle, walking down the entire rest of the mountain with me (when I couldn’t persuade him a helicopter was in order). I still think Lake Louise is the most beautiful place ever, but from the lake level looking up:) I’m happy to say that this rare non-knitting Native Minnesotan learned to knit so that I can enjoy chalet life whilest my husband skis off his cliffs. Problem solved!

  84. I think the more appropriate title is Lady Badass Skier! I was a rare non-skiing Native Minnesotan (who doesn’t care for speed of any kind, or heights as it turns out) whose avid skiing husband planned a trip to Lake Louise. His rationale: if I learned to ski in the most beautiful place ever I’d love it. I took said class and ruled the carpet. After lunch my in-laws (oh yes) convinced me I was ready for the green slope. So off I went to that terrifying ski lift, and made it a mere 20% down the mountain before plowing into a preschool skiing class, teaching [loud] French to them all the way to my demise. When I lost the plea for a helicopter ride downh my husband had to walk the entire rest of the mountain back with me. Turns out I agree it is the most beautiful place ever, but from the lakeshore looking up. Having been a rare non-knitting Native Minnesotan too I learned the sport of knitting instead (minimal speed, no heights) so chalet life can be a joy instead!

  85. I can totally relate – I live in Washington state, and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why people would CHOOSE to drive in dangerous conditions, and then go so fast that when they fall they get bruises and broken bones. Crazy talk. Besides. It’s cold.

  86. Bravo you! I have cried those tears – but not in the Rockies. Wheoo. And, I imagine your terrific bicycle muscles and spiritual/emotional disciplines applied to overcoming of physical and mental bicycle-inflicted tortures put you in good stead to ski. All the same, I’m glad your hands, shoulders, elbows are unscathed. Then again…one could completely smush ones hands shoulders and elbows on a bike ride too. Hmm, think I’ll stop thinking about it all. Bravo you!

  87. Well done poppet! Does this make you feel more patriotically Canadian? Is should. Especially if you had a beer after your time on the slopes.
    I miss the thrill and joy that comes with downhill skiing. A head injury means I can’t do it any more. I guess I shall have to stick with cross country. Still Canadian, but just a wee bit slower.

  88. Great blog. I give you all the credit in the world for trying. I agree with Joe, if asked, you may say you can ski.

  89. I learned to cross country ski in the outback of Ontario, mile marker 72.5 on the Algoma Central Railroad, to be specific. Skiing on golf courses never quite measured up afterwards. But I never tried downhill–too far to fall. Good for you.

  90. Brave, brave woman. Go Stephanie!

    My cousin Bruce, an avid skier, was skiing in the Rockies and found himself in a wipeout. He couldn’t seem to turn his head, laying there, so he *grabbed his head to turn it this way and that* to see if anyone was coming down at him. Not the best response.

    He was airlifted out and now has a cadaver neck bone graft to replace the two vertebrae he’d shattered. How he is not a quadriplegic no one knows.

    And then another cousin’s preteen daughter found herself at the top of the wrong run, tried to go down carefully on her butt… and shattered part of her spine.

    You will never ever ever see me on the ski slopes. I am in awe (and a little scared for) anyone who can do it.

  91. I am grinning for you. My one attempt to ski was when I was married to FirstHubby, and he was kinda sorta athletic, and I was kinda sorta not (I had yet to discover that I am a wizard at both dance and giving birth, things I learned with subsequent hubbies), and I thought it would be good if I could learn to ski, and this was back in the days of Graduated Length Method, and I was fine on three foot long skis and no poles, but when they gave me four foot skis and poles the next day, it was too much change at one time, and I gave myself the trots, I was so stressed out. Tubing down a slope? Loved that. Anything that keeps me close to the ground, where the fall is more like two or three inches, is my kind of good. Except that now I’m old enough that a broken hip would probably do me in. But when I get my resurrected body someday, I’m heading for the Himalayas, and y’all better duck and cover.

  92. You go, girl. I learned to ski at 42 so I could “supervise” my three children who could all ski like the wind at ages 4, 6 and 8. I learned at Grey Rocks in Quebec, near Mt. Tremblant and then went to Lake Louise. I have a very vivid memory of crying on the ski lift out of total fear while my children comforted me! But I did it. I will never be a great skier but I can get down green and blue runs with wide “S” turns. Be proud! It’s a very Canadian thing to do. Next up for you should be hockey! I started that at 45!
    Way to go, Steph!

  93. That’s awesome, congratulations! I went skiing this winter for only the 2nd time in my life so I can totally relate to how you were feeling. Congratulations on conquering your fear and I hope you and Joe are able to enjoy many more ski trips together!

  94. Wow, I’m impressed. I tried to learn skiing in Utah 20 years ago, but I never got past the first lesson, as I realized I couldn’t commit to it back east in NYC.

    That scenery is spectacular.

    I find it funny that your husband skis down major mountains but won’t drive because he left his license home. Canadians are so law abiding!

    • Being law-abiding (and polite) is kind of our stock-in-trade.

      Skiing down mountains or off cliffs is just a sideline.
      Chris S in Canada

  95. 1) Someone already mentioned it, but Brett holding the sock-in-progress would have been an epic pic! Although where you put a bunch of DPNs in your ski gear, when expecting imminently to fall down, probably upon them …. nah. Maybe not. Next trip? Fer Shure :D
    2) Hey Joe, since you are into whisking Steph off to random exciting new destinations, now with added extreme sports …. come to Sydney, Australia! and teach her to surf!
    3) You are the Awesomesauce. Truly.

  96. I am a x-country skier not a downhiller. On the x-country side, you can enjoy it even if your skill level is low. It can be like going for a lovely hike with a few thrills thrown it.

    The reasons I don’t like downhill are:
    1) the lifts
    2) going downhill fast
    3) when you get to the bottom of the hill it is so hard to move
    4) the heavy boots and skis
    5) the cost.

    I have given downhill skiing a few tries. I really understand the fear factor. I finally learned to parallel turn on the GREEN slopes. But I was never as happy as I am spending the day x-country skiing through the woods.

    Next up for me: snow shoes

  97. To paraphrase your words, you and Joe are investigating activities you can do together now that the children are moving on. Does this mean Joe is going to learn to knit??

    • Joe can knit! Steph has written about how he is knitting her a sock. Sock, singular. Top down, been at it for years, not got to the heel yet. I was delighted to read about this, not because of the togetherness it shows, but because I’m so glad there’s a slower knitter than me around ;-)

  98. You are the Grand Adventuress and seriously, such an inspiration as to moving through fear. How did you do with the altitude? You know I’m thinking you and Joe will need to come skiing in the Colorado Rockies…..

  99. Totally been there and done that. Before my husband of 50 years and I were married, he took me skiing and convinced me that I could do moguls on the face of a cliff. Being a post bunny hill skier and IN LOVE I started off. After over an hour on a run that should take 20 minutes he finally talked me down it. He didn’t know that I knew those words.
    We still refer to any physically challenging thing that I try and sort of fail at “a mogul trip”.
    Good for you sticking too it. You are INDEED a skier.

  100. Go you! Learning new stuff is H-A-R-D!!! I appreciate that you don’t gloss over the difficulties and adult language included in it. I’m still a bit twitchy thinking about the abject failure that wet felting balls was a month+ back – I was bested by 10 year olds on YouTube.

    But, seriously, I don’t know that I would go skiing again. I did as a child and had more fun building igloos. I’ll skydive, but fast down a hill in snow? Pass me the whiskey and I’ll just knit by the lodge fire, thanks!

  101. Wow, just wow! I have tried skiing a few times and I don’t think its for me, but I was able to support my late husband by being at the bottom of the slope with a beverage each time he came down! (he skied with my Canadian Sis-in-law, who has been on skiis her whole life)….I think I’m a knitting by the fire in the lodge kinda gal, but I admire you so much.

  102. Congrats! Having tried both skiing and snowboarding, i have found it easier/simpler to snowboard. only one large thing attached to my feet to fall over and , for me, a lot easier to balance and navigate the lifts. still, the best part of skiing/snowboarding days is the hot chocolate/coffee at the end of the day. :-)

  103. OMG beautiful. Words for learning-to-be-adventurous middle-aged ladies everywhere. As a more conservative person who picked (picked on purpose, right?) an adventurous partner, and now gets to enjoy all my crazy trips with him, I can so relate to your story.

    I love the idea that as our kids move out we get to bring new exciting things into our lives!

  104. Brett is right – if you can ski the greens on Sunshine and Lake Louise, you can ski greens anywhere. And from my experience, if you were skiing well enough to make it back skiing a second day without having your thighs hurt so badly it’s agonizing to sit on a toilet, you did AWESOME! I have skied (albeit poorly and without lessons) for years and never manage more than a half day the first time out for the season.

  105. That’s a lovely story. It’s a good lesson for us all to try new things even if they’re hard. I don’t want to be a skier, but I’d like to be someone who can lift 20 pounds with one arm without praying for death.

  106. Oh my you are brave! I tried skiing once many years ago, and from reading I can see what I did wrong (a) no one ever taught me to turn or stop (b) I believed them when they said I was ready to go to the top and ski down (c) I feel getting off the lift, was terrified looking down the slope at night, in the fog, managed to get to the bottom after falling (because that was the only way I knew how to stop) about 100 times, and (d) giving up and deciding a glass of wine by the fire is more my kind of winter sport!

  107. Good for you! The first time I skiied, I fell more time than I can tell. (I also lost a ski getting off the lift). Once I was making a deep turn, a man was coming fast down the mountain. He would cut across my path and I knew I couldn’t turn from him. I hollered, but he didn’t turn away. I ran over the top of his skis and knocked him down. I asked, “Are you all right?” and tried to help him up. He said, “Go away.” I made it to the bottom, found my sister and told her what happened. I pointed out the guy. “Oh,” she said, “I knocked him down farther up the hill.”

    • This is an AWESOME story!! If he couldn’t turn to get around you, then he got what he had coming, sister! (Hill etiquette: the uphill skiers have to watch out for the downhill ones, though you do have to try not to make it impossible for them not to collide with you…)

      • It was one of those Slow Motion Moments when you see it coming, but know you can’t stop it. He laid in the snow a really long time…I felt bad, but I was not skilled enough to turn… and he was going really fast. Thanks for the ski ettiquette.

  108. Go you! Yay for being brave!

    I recently started taking horseback riding lessons again. And yup, third lesson in I fell off and broke my wrist. (no knitting for 5 weeks!!!)

    I’ve since gotten back on the horse, and I’m scared every time… falling is one thing, but the fear of serious injury is something else altogether. But, I’m hoping my love of horses will some day conquer the fear.

    Don’t know if I, or my loved ones, will survive another month without knitting…

  109. Dude – I’ve been learning how to snowboard this winter. All winter, it turns out. It sounds like you were doing great! And no injuries is a real accomplishment!

  110. I stick to snow shoeing, which I thought was safer than skiing. Then I fell over, and couldn’t get up, and well.. let’s just say winter is not my favorite season. I’m trying though.

  111. Very inspiring–yes you are a skier!! We should never stop learning new things and doing what scares us. I have always loved skiing and at age 43 decided to try and become an instructor at my local beginner mountain. Scary, challenging, and so so fun! I’m already looking forward to my third season next year… Welcome to the club :)

  112. Well done! I learned as an adult, and I will say 1. Brett is right- you will find terrain you can ski at any ski area now. And 2- when you’ve spent some time snowplowing and start to feel that you’ve got it down, and then try an intermediate run and find it very hard to hold the snowplow all the way on the steeper slope- that will be the time to go back for another lesson or three and learn parallel turns- which will open up all the blue trails to you. And 3-remember that falling when skiing, unlike falling off a bicycle? Involves a nice soft pile of snow and lots of padded clothing. Also- everyone falls sometimes, even quite experienced skiers.

    • So true that everyone falls sometimes! I ski anything and everything here in Colorado and every once in a while, I’ll fall. I consider it my reality check and a good reminder to always pay attention (like I did when I was a beginner).

  113. EXCELLENT call on the lessons!!! That is for sure both a marriage-saver AND actually gets you up and moving around in a way that can start to be fun a lot sooner! I SO remember my own intro to skiing at age 16–so similar. But the snow in the Rockies is usually so great, esp at Sunshine, that it makes learning much, much easier than the overgroomed, icy stuff we try to get by with in a lot of the rest of the country. Way to go on the bravery call…=)

  114. I loved reading this!

    I’m 57 and I’m a snowboarder. Five weeks ago, I wasn’t a snowboarder. I decided I wanted to learn something hard that would motivate me to rebuild my strength*. So I took a few lessons (okay, six lessons), and today TODAY I went snowboarding all by myself without an instructor or anyone else to make excuses to.

    I didn’t venture off the bunny hill at Grouse Mountain, but I did do linked turns for the first time, and I got off the chair lift without falling. I’m a snowboarder now.

    Tomorrow, I’m going back to try my first Green run.

    (*The real reason I started snowboarding is because I accidentally bought a snowboarding jacket a couple of years ago; I thought I was buying a hiking jacket. Once I realized my “mistake” I knew that I had identified my next new sport.)

    • Hi Sandra,
      Yay! By now you have done the run(s)! Good for you – I learned at 55 and can do a green, an easy blue – but only skis work for me on more advanced terrain. It’s amazingly hard work – and it makes the victories even sweeter! Keep on keeping on!

  115. I laughed thru out your post but my hat is off to you for conquering this! I used to water ski but never snow sking. Again, good for you, you are a brave soul!

  116. That is so cool! I’m so proud of you :) I’ve always felt guilty about living in Utah, 20 minutes away from so many ski resorts and never learning to ski.

    You give me hope that I can do it :)

  117. Steph, I’ve been reading your blog regularly for a few years now and always look forward to your sense of humour. Loved this post, the learning curve of this very ski hill(s?) takes me back to when I visited it as a teenager. So much fun yet so much cursing in terror/joy. You’ve skied “Louise”, you ARE a skier! Way to go!

  118. I learned to ski the year I turned 43; the year I had an 11-year-old, a 10-year-old, an 8-year-old, and a 3-year-old. It was the best thing I ever did for myself. It transformed my relationship both to winter and my children. I’ll never ski as well as my kids do but I love it. For years my brother-in-law had told me that a woman who thinks it’s fun to ride a horse fast at a fixed object would love down hill skiing. He was right — You go, girl!

  119. It is SO HARD to learn to ski as an adult. This rings so many bells, as I also remember taking a lesson, and the next time I was up there I tried to ski a green from top to bottom and cried the whole way down. That was three years ago, and this year I was tearing it up in Utah! In between I even tore my ACL and went through a year of recovery and on the first time up after being cleared…I cried at the top of the bunny hill. It’s not easy, but the payoff is worth it!

  120. Skiing is not that different than knitting. There are plenty of children in the world that can do it. although, one almost never breaks a leg knitting. : ) WELL DONE!!!!!!!!!!! : ) P.S. Thank you SO much to whomever is in charge of your “prove you’re a human” widget…i usually have such a hard time with these, but not the one on your page! : )

  121. I just read (and watched) your post at Fit is a feminist issue, and my eyes are kind of blurry, I don’t know, must be the cold. You are such a hero! Watching the last video over there, I thought, “And next year, we’re going to get a video of you swooping down a mountain whooping with happiness.” I bet Joe’s heart was just leaping for joy watching you go. Yay you!

  122. I just read your guest blog post and I wanted to tell you I admire your bravery. I tried to learn as an adult and it was difficult and painful and I gave up. Thanks for sharing your experience and congratulations on your success!

  123. That’s so awesome that Joe is working on the music center and you’re a skier now. Look at you two! Getting stuff done. Meaningful stuff.

    My favorite picture of the post is of you & Joe, second one from the bottom of the post. You both look wonderful, happy, and relaxed.

    You are wonderful folks! Cheers!

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