So, young Padawan, let’s get this straight. Do you want to ski like the pros? Do you want to take your current skiing abilities and get them to the level of Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller? Do you want to glide around moguls with expert precision as you never have before? Do you want to break the next world record for the fastest downhill ski run – ever? Because, if so… stop reading. Scram. Shoo. Mush! Oh, relax. It’s nothing personal – this guide just isn’t for you. This guide is not for those who know their way around a mountain or two. It’s not for those that dream about the white corduroy goodness otherwise known as “groomed snow.” Quite the opposite, actually. This guide is intended for the summer lover, the beach bum that fears winter and all that it brings. If you, whether as a punishment or by your own will, are being subjected to your first day on the slopes – read on. It’ll make your life easier, and maybe a little more enjoyable. I promise.
The very first step to having a good first day on the mountain is to accept everything around you. Accept the fact that the air is cold; accept that said cold air will make you chilly. Accept that, yes, your clothing is uncomfortable, stuffy, and makes you look like the beach ball you played with seven months ago. You’ll be thankful for the layers later. Accept and appreciate the fact that your ski boots are too tight and that oh-my-god-you-can’t-feel-your-legs. That means you’ll have better control over your skis, and more control leads to a better day. Recognize the crowd of people around you and give them the respect that they deserve – yes, even the two year old that just smashed head-first into your shin. They are the ones that affect you the most. They are the ones whom you watch out for on the slopes, because if you don’t, you will get hurt. You will fall. You will get carried off of the mountain by ski patrol. And, trust me, that is not a good first day. But – most importantly – accept the fact that the mountain has control over you at any time. The mountain is soulless, an apathetic freak of nature. In place of a heart, it has rock. In place of a brain, it has more rock. The mountain will try to come at you with everything it has. It will throw ice patches, tree roots, stones, and random bumps at you. It is your job to circumnavigate those obstacles. Accept that you are responsible for your own safety, and respect the mountain. If you do – well, the mountain might just show a smidge of respect back.
Once you’ve accepted, recognized, and understood all of your surroundings, you move on to the second step: obtaining the proper equipment. Of course, this may seem obvious, but bear with me –; it’s not as easy as you may think. Much like Goldilocks, you’ll need skis that aren’t too long, and ones that aren’t too short (ideally, they should reach up to your nose, but I’m sure the rental employee will pay attention to that… hopefully). Likewise, your poles should be just long enough that your elbow makes a 90° angle when you hold them. Next, the helmet; decently straightforward, it should be snug but comfortable. And, finally, come the boots. These will be the single hardest thing you will have to endure on your one day vacation. They will be tight. For the first hour or two, you will lose feeling in your two pinky toes – and only those two, if you’re lucky. The boots will feel weird and walking around in them will be nothing short of a nightmare. That’s perfectly fine – those boots are designed to guarantee maximum control and minimal accidents, because, as you already know, accidents lead to a bad day.
The third and final step to ensuring that your first day on the slopes is a good one is to get a grip on yourself and to get your head in the game. You’re on the chairlift – don’t look down. It’s not the time for that. You have about two minutes until the bar comes up and you slide off of the chair onto the snow. This is the time for you to understand that there is no easy way of going back. Like it or not, the end station is approaching. It’s time for you to get up on your skis and fly like you’ve never flown before. You’re the ringmaster and the snow is your circus. Treat it that way. Put your mind to work and think of every little movement you make. It will all be second-nature soon. Think of the Navy SEAL saying “The only easy day was yesterday.” You are a snow SEAL. It is your duty to ski down that slope and look astounding while doing it. Think about it; you’re at the top of the hill now. There are two ways of getting down. The first is you skiing down to your waving friends, all of whom are waiting to congratulate you on your first successful ski run. The second – well, the second is you getting pulled down the hill behind a ski patrol snowmobile with a face full of tears because you were too scared to ski down by yourself. Inevitably, someone will have a GoPro pointed at you, and next thing you know, you’re the star of a viral YouTube video titled “Fully grown adult cries to himself while getting pulled down the hill by ski patrol.” Becoming the star of a viral video leads to a bad first day. Get your mind in the game. Ready, set, ski!
So, young Padawan, that’s about it. Congratulate yourself. You have just skied down a mountain. You, a mere mortal, have survived nature with nothing but two thin planks! It’s time for the reward. Go inside, unbuckle your boots, and grab that hot chocolate you’ve been dreaming about since you left the house. Order a Belgian waffle with it, too. For you are a skier – and you deserve every bit of that wildly overpriced scorching-hot drink you can get. I know you’ve earned it. Stay thirsty, my friend.
Written by Alec Liberman