It’s All Downhill from Here

By Spencer Krywy
February 2016

If you’re like me and you’ve never skied before, heed this warning: People will tell you that the first time, you will fall. A lot. What they don’t tell you is that you will also be sore. For a long time. For me, it was almost a week until I could sit comfortably.

Contrary to popular belief, how­ever, it’s not actually that cold; in fact, the slower you go and the more you fall, the hotter you get. The first few runs, at least for me, were incredibly discouraging. When I fell, it was as if the only reason to get back up would be to fall again. Despite its friendly name, the “bunny slope” is an unfor­giving beast. To the common observer it seems like a short, gradual slope. For me it was like skiing down Mt. Everest— an unending descent to hell.

I decided to endure this suffering because I needed something to oc­cupy the long, dark months of winter. Ski Club skis Thursday nights at Song Mountain in Tully. Regardless of the pain and misfortune of my first night on the slopes, I soldiered on. Once I graduated from the devilish hill that is the bunny slope, I was faced with my next challenge: the mountain.

But before that, I had to get on the chair lift, something that seemed so simple I couldn’t possibly mess it up. But I did. So if simply getting on the lift to go up was a daunting task in and of itself, then the first trail was going to be impossible.

It took half an hour to get down the trail. My friends told me that it was a “green” trail: the easiest level of difficulty. They told me it would be “just the bunny hill, but longer.” They lied. It was called “Sentimental Journey,” which seemed fitting, as the bruises were certainly “sentimental” reminders of my first run. It was much steeper than the bunny hill, and there were people on it who knew how to ski well. It was also dark, which I definitely was not prepared for.spencer

When my experienced friends became my only guides, I quickly realized that they had a slightly skewed view of my situation. To them, the first trail is barely a warm up. To them, I was incomprehensibly slow and incapable. To me, the slope was an unending cold, dark, steep, icy path of certain doom that resulted in the battering and bruising of my entire body.

I found that the key to completing any trail successfully is falling the minimal amount of times by stopping. Every hundred meters or so, I slowly glided to a stop to catch my breath. My method was simple: go slowly, take my time, and save myself the pain of falling.

My friends found my system incredibly frustrating. But through perseverance, blood, sweat and some tears, I made it to the bottom. Despite my slowness, I wasn’t left behind, at least not the first time. That’s what made the first run bearable: hav­ing my friends there. If they hadn’t pushed me to do it again, I probably wouldn’t have.

Being able to ski is an unparal­leled feeling. When I started to get the hang of it (not falling), it felt like I was flying. There’s nothing else like it. Although in the eyes of the rest of the population I might have been moving incredibly slowly, I felt like I was go­ing at light speed. And I didn’t fall that next time!

The only downside to my new­found mastery was that my friends figured out I was doing just fine. So they left me. Alone. On the side of the mountain. It is one of the most terrifying things in the world to have people constantly rocket past you on skis, so I decided it would be safer to stick to the sides of the trail. Since nobody skis there, the snow is deep and forgiving. It was like I had my own trail.

Despite all this, the most enjoy­able aspect of my entire endeavour was the friends I went with. Without them, I don’t think I would have wanted to learn to ski, and the first few runs would have been too dis­couraging to continue on.

With my friends around, when I got down, all I wanted to do was go back up.