The Two Rules

The Free Press ski column by Keith Liggett - The two rules.

  • Dec. 30, 2011 12:00 p.m.

The Two Rules

By Keith Liggett

 

So the other day, the first day the mountain was open, I skied out of the bottom of Lizard Bowl onto Lower Lizard and happened upon a distressed couple. He’s on a board. She’s on rental skis.  He’s clearly experienced. Just as clear, this is her first day on skis.

He’s doing the board sideslip down the hill. She’s flailing out of control from one crash and burn to the next.

I stopped above them and eavesdropped.

“You gotta dig in your skis.  Dig ‘em in hard and go across the hill.”

She dug her skis in and with her skis firmly on edge, accelerated across the broad expanse of Lower Lizard until, arms a flailing, she crashed into a heap.

Again.

Sometimes her skis came off. Sometimes not.

Zig, crash.

Zag, crash.

Zig, crash.

And so on

He slid sideways on his board down to her and said, “No, you really gotta dig them in and then go all the way across the hill. Then turn. Just go back and forth.” He waved his arms demonstrating the back and forth motion.

Watching, I could tell this was going nowhere fast. Ski industry facts indicate that 90% of the people that first try skiing never go back. She was on her way to being part of that 90%.

“Let me give you a hand. First. Don’t dig your skis in. Let them slide against the snow. Like this” and I made a slow gliding wedge.  One turn and stopped.

She stood up started down making one easy turn. On the second, as soon as she started speeding up, she dug in her edges and accelerated off until, arms a flailing, she fell.

“Nope. Look how I bring my ski across the hill. It slows me down.’ I executed a couple of short round gliding wedges down toward her. “Just make one turn and stop.”

She got up, dusted herself off and tried one. She turned. She stopped. It worked. Her boyfriend looked disgusted. She looked like she might become part of the 10% that come back.

“Now another.” Again, it worked. She stopped.

“Now two and stop.” I demonstrated two round gliding wedges and stopped a bit below her.

She followed linking two turns, and stopped. He slid sideways down the hill to us.

I ignore him. “Never go across the hill. Always turn. Always turn. The turns keep your speed in control.”  And I skied off to the bottom of the Bear.

There used to be only one rule in learning to ski. I realized that morning, Now, there are two.

The First Rule.

Never let the person you are dating, living with, married to or other wise attached to, teach you to ski (or board).

Period.

Never.

The Second Rule may actually be a corollary, but I’ll upgrade it the status of a rule. Equally simple, but usually completely misunderstood by those within the matrix of the involvement.

Never let a snowboarder (even if they are not the person you are dating, living with, married to or other wise attached to) teach you to ski. And visa versa.

Granted, both skiing and boarding are sliding down the hill. That’s about it for the connection. In the application of an ability to maintain a sliding balance, they are completely different animals. To start with, in skiing your feet are independent. On a snowboard, you are hobbled to the board. If you are used to surfing or skateboarding, that’s fine. That’s a special few. Most folks walk, run and ride with independent feet. Skiing you face down the hill.  On a snowboard you face your toes, put your arms out and ride.  Really, that’s all you can do.

The best example I can think of would be a bicycle and a unicycle. They both have wheels. You peddle them. But, if you ever tried to ride a unicycle, you know that someone on a bike will be useless teaching you to ride a unicycle.

So remember Rule One and Two. Go find someone you trust and trained to teach. Other than that, it makes no difference if you pick up a board or skis, as long as they ride the same.

Ride on.

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