Downhill disaster

By the

March 1, 2001

People assume that because I’m from northern Illinois I love snow. They fail to realize, though, that a baffling affection for flecks of frozen water is not genetically inherent just because a person happened to be born in a certain area of the country. I hate snow. In fact, I detest it. It’s cold, it’s sloppy, it’s cold, it makes getting around inconvenient and did I mention that it’s cold?

Although love for snow may not be something that you’re born with, I believe that my aversion to snow is. My mom and I share the same deeply rooted passion against winter’s blight. When other people daydream about skiing back and forth down a snow-covered mountain, she and I imagine stretching out on a warm, sandy beach. When we hear others ooh-ing and ah-ing over the “beautiful” snow falling outside, she and I try (usually unsuccessfully) to hide the grimaces on our faces. I think my mom might even have stronger feelings against snow than I do, a fact that anyone who knows me will probably find unbelievable.

While my dad doesn’t really have anything against snow, or winter in general, he’s not really an outdoorsy person (a gross understatement, believe me). This parental combination explains why I didn’t have my first skiing experience until my junior year of high school. I never had an overwhelming desire to try skiing, but I accepted my friend’s invitation to join her and her family on their yearly New Year’s Eve ski trip.

I describe the night as a ski “trip,” but it was really more of an “outing,” given that we only drove 15 minutes to the mountain. In fact, calling it a “mountain” is a stretch too; “man-made hill” is more accurate. And while I’m on the subject of accuracy, I’ll add that the man-made hill came complete with man-made snow. Regardless of these euphemisms, though, I was still looking forward to my adventure.

I quickly mastered the pre-bunny hill and got the hang of the tow-rope in an impressively short period of time. My biggest challenge was stopping. This seemed like a minor inconvenience at the time, since the pre-bunny hill didn’t let me build up that much speed before reaching the bottom, but this oversight would come back to haunt me later.

I’ll admit that skiing really wasn’t that bad … in the beginning. We stayed out for a while and then went into the lodge to warm up and grab some dinner. When my friend was ready to venture back outside, I frantically scrambled to find an excuse, any excuse, that would allow me to stay close to the nice, warm fire. My smooth-talking failed miserably, and I was soon freezing my keester on the creaking chair-lift.

At the top of the “mountain,” my friend took off. I took a deep breath to renew my confidence and slowly started sliding downward. I was actually doing pretty well for about two-thirds of the way, when all I was concentrating on was staying up on my skis. Then, it quickly dawned on me that I wasn’t slowing down and that the fence in front of me was getting closer and closer. Nothing I tried after that point made a significant difference in my speed, and I remember closing my eyes just before the collision. When I opened them, I was lying on my back. I could see that one of my skis had flown off and landed above my head. The spot where the fence and my nose had met was no longer there, either. Instead, it was lying on the ground in a few jagged pieces.

Luckily for me, the only injuries I came away with were a few bruises, some scratches and a couple of dents in my pride. My friend later told me she had seen the crash and, not realizing I was the one who had lost control, laughed at the idiot who, as she put it, “bounced off the fence like a superball.”

I haven’t gone skiing since, nor do I have any plans to any time soon. And as much as I regret admitting it, I guess it’s just more evidence that Mom’s usually right. Winter’s a bitch, but thank God the tulips are finally starting to come up!

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