Disclaimer: I can barely coordinate dance moves with my hands and feet at the same time, let alone use skis.
For over a year, my boyfriend, Nick, raved about fun ski trips to Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia. He recounted tales of gliding down the slopes like a pro from sunrise to sunset. “As long as the inside of your gloves stay dry,” he said, “you’ll stay warm.”
However, our trip during winter break with his parents didn’t start as planned. West Virginia’s unusually warm winter weather left the slopes green and muddy upon our arrival. Luckily, the snow fell just in time for Nick and me to enjoy a blissful day on the slopes. We stepped out on a clear morning, fluffy and bundled up like the Michelin Man. One day’s worth of snowfall wasn’t enough to fill the slopes, so the snow blowers raged violently, freezing jacket hoods stiff and forming icicles on men’s beards.
A few minutes into my ski lesson, I declared a new mortal enemy: The snow blower. Each time it faced my way, my skis moved in directions I didn’t intend and my eyes welled up, irritated by the sharp ice. After an hour and a half of ski lessons, I felt comfortable holding my own on the bunny slope, but not quite ready to brave the real slopes.
After patiently waiting and skiing alone, Nick shook like a puppy whose owner just returned from work. “The green slope is just like the bunny slope,” he promised. “I’ll be right behind you in case you fall.”
So there I stood at the top of the green slope, convincing myself that after an hour and a half of ski lessons, I got this. “I’ll be with you the whole time,” Nick said. Might as well try, I figured. And off I went.
The first successful 30 seconds downhill gave me the confidence that I might actually be able to ski down without falling of a cliff. I was wrong. I kept my skis in a wedge shape the whole time, so surely I would slowly slide down the mountain. Like a dummy, I turned around and smiled at Nick through the heavy winter gear to make sure he actually did stay behind me.
They say what goes up must come down, and that’s exactly what happened when I turned around and spotted the bright orange tape that means, “You’re about to fall off a cliff.” My Miami body registered the cold weather, freezing my feet and unwilling to let my body turn. In lieu of tumbling down a mountain like Jack and his crown, I threw myself to the ground, sliding as snow slush crept up my jacket and stiffened my spine.
Half-worried and half-amused at my fall, Nick skied over to my tangle of skis and limbs to help me up. “What happened?” he shouted over the snow blower. “You have to turn to slow down.”
“I’m doing the best I can,” I said, snow melting the mascara into ugly tear streaks down my face. The equation hypothesis bunny slope equals green slope proved false as per my experiment.
I stumbled down the three-minute slope for almost an hour, hurling myself to the ground each time I picked up too much speed or moved dangerously close to the orange tape. Nick watched in agony, shouting directions and tips over the whirling snow blowers. I confused his shouts of terror with anger, each time turning around only to turn back into another face plant.
When we finally reached the bottom of the slope, I huffed, “This is nothing like the bunny slope you liar!” Short of breath and winded by the falls, I ripped off the layers, hats and gloves that kept me from getting frost bite. Nick enveloped me in a hug and apologized for the green slope debacle.
“I thought you would be ready after the lesson,” he said. “I didn’t know what else to do besides scream directions. I kept imagining you falling off a cliff and I panicked.”
After what we consider my near-death experience, Nick realized my skills needed more development on the safe bunny slope. We spent the rest of the day practicing the basics, like turning away from other skiers instead of head-on collisions and controlling speed. Granted, I continued to meet the snow face first when my skis dared hop off the lift, but Nick helped me up each time and braved the bunny slopes alongside the rest of the toddlers learning to ski.
I begged him multiple times to enjoy the actual ski slopes and let me learn on my own, but he refused to leave my side. He said there was no point skiing if he couldn’t ski with me. Someone give him a side of nachos with that giant serving of cheese, for goodness’s sake.
Jokes aside, we laughed at each of my face plants and butt slides in the snow. When faced with the choice to zoom past me, Nick passed the secret girl test (ladies, don’t deny it exists) and stuck it out with me on the bunny slopes.
The moral of the story: If you’re going to ski, make sure you pick a partner that will keep you from falling off a cliff and stick to whatever slope you can handle, whether it’s the bunny or the double black diamond.