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ski hazard

I’m sitting in the lodge at Timberline, having dropped my kid off at ski school an hour ago. Now I’m waiting for him to actually leave the building so I can hit the buffet. I’ve already strolled by the ski school entrance 17 times to check on the ski schoolers, who are all corralled in front of a TV, which we have two of back at home. The check-in guy, who greeted me warmly at 8:45, told me he liked my Timbers zip-up at 8:55, and assured me that “we pee before we ski” at 9:15, now has his eyes trained on me as if I mean to steal a child that isn’t mine.

What the hell are they doing? This day is costing me like $40 an hour, if you factor in gas and the babysitter I’ve paid to sit at home with Tate. But breathe, I tell myself. This is a primo opportunity to work on my new year’s resolution of not rushing. I’m always rushing. I can’t finish one thing without being stressed about the next. I’m the kind of person who puts down her fork at lunch and asks what’s for dinner. So, less rushing in 2013. Less rushing for myself, less rushing of Tom, less rushing of (and on behalf of) my kids.

Then again, I can start on all that tomorrow. Why ask me to check my kid in at 8:45 if no one is intending to ski until 10:15? WHY? I left Portland at 7:15 to get here with 10 minutes to spare. As usual, my meticulous planning and perfect execution are being completely foiled by someone else’s low standards and rank incompetence. Whenever I complain about this type of thing to Linds, she says it’s because I’m so high-functioning. I brush her off, but I totally agree.


I tell myself that it’s worth the aggravation to get Finn up on skis while he’s too young to know better. The older you get, the more you realize that the concept of skiing as a leisure activity is totally insane. When you’re young, you hear about people hitting trees and dying and you laugh with the brashness of youth and think, “no way is that happening to me.” When you get older, you start thinking about statistical odds and probabilities and realize that if Sonny Bono can die skiing, you are as likely a victim as any.

It’s important to learn early because when you’re young and you fall on skis, it’s not a big deal. You get all snowy and your skis fly off but they don’t weigh much, and it’s all very inconsequential. When you’re an adult and you fall on skis, things are totally different. The snow, which seemed so fluffy and happy when you were a kid, now seems hard, sharp, and cold. So hard, sharp, and cold, in fact, that you want to avoid falling so desperately that you ski tentatively and end up falling even more. Since you now create more velocity as an adult, when you fall, your skis snap off 30 feet up the hill from where you stop tumbling, so that you have to hike up in shame to retrieve your skis. This doesn’t happen to me often, of course. Only when I ski under a chair lift packed with cruel teenagers.

When you’re an adult, you stop making fun of ski helmets and start buying the ones with the most padding. You get muscle aches so distressing that you spend the next day worrying that you tore your ACL, wherever that is. The snow that seemed so fun when you were a child now creeps its way up your sleeves and down the back of your pants, melting down your crack and pooling in the crotch of your underwear.

When you’re older, in addition to the dangers faced by your own body, you also have the bodies of loved ones to worry about. Last year at Mt. Bachelor, Tom showed up 45 minutes late for a rendezvous at the bottom of the slope. After the first 25 minutes I hiked to Ski Patrol and had his name blaring from every PA system on the mountain. When he finally skied down to me, he had snowy formations hanging off his face and looked like he’d gotten down the mountain by rolling. And he was wild-eyed, like he’d been through something really traumatic. He basically looked exactly like this, except with ski clothes:


Aware that he was 45 minutes late and in deep shit, Tom went for the nonchalant approach. “What’s up, babe?” I looked at him, said not a word, and erupted in tears. From anger, partly, but mostly from relief. Because for that last half hour or so, I truly thought he might be dead. And then I’d be stuck with the kids on vacation by myself.

So. Why ski at all? Because when it’s sunny and there’s fresh powder that isn’t too deep and you are carving turns and you can feel your toes and fingers and your underwear is dry, it’s lovely. Nothing better. Plus you can technically only get to apres-ski if you ski first. And apres-ski is my favorite thing in the world after Korean barbecue. The hot tub, the wine, the car heaters on full blast as you massage sensation back into your extremities. That feeling of warmth, of coziness, of feeling like you had a DAY–it’s worth whatever your miserable body paid to get there.


finn at three, with dad

25 Comments Post a comment
  1. gulgun #

    Catching up on the blog and loving these last posts, Yoona. I’m taking on the “no rushing” resolution. And here I thought I was over resolutions. Thanks! G

    January 6, 2013
    • the more resolutions, the more opportunities to fail–that’s my motto. thanks gulgun. happy new years to you and your boys

      January 9, 2013
  2. Wandering Voiceless #

    Loved this post. Have skied enough to appreciate it thoroughly.

    The bad news: I learned to ski in junior high school.

    The good news: I never skied again.

    The best news: I love reading by the fireplace while drinking hot cocoa, while other seemingly intelligent people are hurtling themselves down the cold mountainside to their certain death.


    January 5, 2013
    • middle school is the wrong time for any number of things, it seems. not esprit bags

      January 5, 2013
  3. thevirtualrealityofstaci #

    Made me laugh, as usual……….. I loved the whole explanation about why you should learn as a child and I agree. Having grown up in the Pac NW and probably being the ONLY person there who never got on skis or a snow board until I was 18 I concur…… is wet and sharp. I found that hanging out in the lodge was much more to my tastes, although I have to admit now that I am over 21 I KNOW hanging out in the lodge is much more to my taste so that I can drink. šŸ™‚

    January 4, 2013
    • yeah linds is the same (adult non-skier) and it’s ruining a lot of our vacation planning. hard to feel good when you’ve left a non-skier back at the condo with the baby

      January 4, 2013
    • so I guess what I’m saying is, stop being so selfish and think of your skier friends. (wink)

      January 4, 2013
  4. My genuine Canadian ski instructor husband tried to teach me to ski. After quite a few attempts, disappearing into a snow bank the wrong end up after being taken out by the t-bar (only my ski’s were visible to mark my snowy tomb), being shoved off the chair lift in the direction of an ominous wood fence, then being abandoned with no ski poles halfway down a hill because I was incapable (i.e. too smart) to hurdle myself down that slippery slope of death at the speed of light as my beloved demanded, I threw in the proverbial towel. That is when we realized husbands and wives have no business doing things like that. So glad you’re getting your kids out there early so that they don’t have to suffer the humiliation, disappointment, and minor injuries that I did as an adult.

    January 4, 2013
    • funny. i do feel badly for adult newbies as it all looks so terribly hard. spouses should never try to teach one another. particularly when one or both are stubborn, proud or competitive. a heady mix

      January 4, 2013
  5. Karen #

    Yoona, pack a bathing suit and sneak into the hot tub at the Lodge…you might as well enjoy yourself while you wait. And ski school is ski school – regardless of where you go, they waste plenty of time, but they’re good about making sure that your kid has fun and wants to go back – which is worth a lot. (Contrast this with my mom, who taught me how to ski in endless, painful and freezing marathons, on skis that I would allegedly “grow into” but never did, eating pb&j on the lift. It sucked, and I still have issues with her about it.) Also, Sonny didn’t have a helmet on…..

    January 4, 2013
    • karen i appreciate the perspective as i was beginning to worry that i’d ruined finn’s nascent ski career by starting him at timberline. i do recall a lot of downtime at Bachelor as well

      January 4, 2013
  6. courtney angeli #

    I am just as likely to run with the bulls in Pamplona or host a yard sale as ski. So much hassle. I like the no rushing resolution.

    January 4, 2013
  7. the very subtle craziness in this sentence is why i adore you so:

    “Because for that last half hour or so, I truly thought he might be dead. And then Iā€™d be stuck with the kids on vacation by myself.”

    the last time i skied i was a teenager myself (one of those cruel ones on the lift that you spoke of). i wasn’t that good at it then…and if i tried to do it now i’d have an aneurism from all the screaming. certainly i’d be carted off by the ski patrol once i reached the bottom of the mountain, gaged & restrained, so the rest of you could enjoy your day. careful out there momma…you’ve got more blogposts to make!

    January 4, 2013
    • i’m not good in stressful situations. my first impulse is to run around shaking people. that day was so bad. my crying was accompanied by some theatrical screaming if memory serves, but i don’t like to remember that part

      January 4, 2013
  8. eb #

    I love apres-ski so much…I start it at lunch.

    January 4, 2013
    • yes but afternoon skiing after alcohol is so cold

      January 4, 2013
  9. Midori #

    Timberline ski school is seriously one of the most unorganized places I’ve ever experienced and I felt the same anger and frustration when I sent my kid there. The kids literally skied probably an hour or so but you paid for a half day price. Ridiculous. Meadows has ski schools and they seem a lot more organized and less crowded. Try there sometime. Kids LOVE the magic carpet!

    January 4, 2013
  10. Erik Eklund #

    I will teach your kid to ski for only… hmmm, $30 an hour? (Or maybe let Lucy handle it while I make my own turns… whatevs). Love it! I also worship at the altar of apres-ski.

    January 4, 2013
    • I want Lucy to set her own price

      January 4, 2013
      • Erik Eklund #

        Trust me, you do NOT want Lucy to set her own price. FYI she now has business cards- no joke.

        January 4, 2013
  11. Ryan #

    This is your best one yet! Was just up skiing fresh powder in Tahoe for Christmas. Now, I’m in San Diego. Man…life is tough šŸ™‚

    January 4, 2013

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