Hitting the slopes

It’s been two months since I left the wet winter of the B.C. coast for Fernie, but I have to admit, I hadn’t been up to the ski hill, until Friday.

The Free Press reporter

The Free Press reporter

It’s been two months since I left the wet winter of the B.C. coast for Fernie, but I have to admit, I hadn’t been up to the ski hill, until Friday.

I wanted to go up, I really did, but it was fear and anxiety that were holding me back, because I didn’t know how to ski.

Last week, I bit the bullet and booked myself a lesson. I do know how to ski a bit. My family used to go up to Mount Washington on Vancouver Island when my sister and I were kids, but it’s been probably nine years since I’ve put on a pair of skis.

By the time lesson day arrived, I wasn’t nervous; I was excited to get out there.

Thankfully, it had warmed up from the -30 we had seen earlier in the week, and by 1:30 p.m., when I showed up for my lesson it was 0 degrees and there were even patches of blue sky. Great conditions for a lesson, I was told.

My instructor Mark, who also doubles as a snowboard instructor, started me off with the basics: stance, the positioning of my feet and, of course, the snowplow.

I admit I felt a bit silly, a 25-year-old snowplowing slowly down the bunny hill while kids half my size whipped past me with no sense of fear.

We focused on the stance a lot during my first lesson. I was told I should have bent knees, bum out a bit in the back, but staying centered over the skis, and most importantly, feet shoulder width apart. To help reinforce this, Mark had me hold one of my ski poles where my stomach meets my hips as I worked on my turns.

Once we got to the bottom of the bunny hill, it was time for the towrope. I was pretty confident as I pulled myself up there. I was being pulled slowly up the hill, enjoying the scenery, dodging small skiers who had fallen over on every side of the track, and I so nearly made it to the top. Then I fell. I was sprawled, hugging the hill.

Mark was kind and patient, he got off the towrope behind me, took off my skis and helped me to the top.

He, of course, reassured me that everyone falls on the towrope and not to worry. I felt a little embarrassed but did my best to shake it off.

After another trip back down the bunny hill, and then again up the towrope (without a fall) Mark and I made for the Deer Chair.

Years ago I tried to be a snowboarder. After four years, and countless private lessons, I decided snowboarding just wasn’t for me. I was also tired of the embarrassment that followed every attempt to get off the lift. I always fell and most times I ended up being smacked in the back of the head with the chair as it came around.

As Mark and I rode up the lift, I had those memories running through my head. But luckily, getting off the chair lift on skis is much easier than on a snowboard, at least in my experience.

On our first run down the Meadow, I practised my turns, slowly getting to the point where I wasn’t snowplowing as much and my skis were moving parallel to each other instead of the snowplow V.

By the end of my first lesson, my turns had improved dramatically (or so my enthusiastic, and supportive instructor told me) and I felt ready to take on the hill solo.

To book a kid’s or adult’s lesson, call Fernie Alpine Resort ski and snowboard school at 250-423-2406.