Skiing: Follow Up

Success. It comes when you accomplish your goals. My skiing goal: Get off Vail Mountain…without injuries…my goal from my earlier post about my First Time Skiing.


Ok, so I had a fall or two. So I got some bruises. Perhaps whiplash.

But it was fun. I got off the mountain. And no major injuries! On the last day I even got to the bottom of the mountain first in our group. Not that I was racing or anything.

Day 3 of our trip allowed me to get some well needed rest. We walked around Vail Village and checked out a bunch of different stores.

We were talking about how we need to buy stock in Patagonia. We seem to have come away with a thing or two from their business. We had a great dinner (the best of the trip) that night at La Tour. What a meal!

We couldn’t stay out too late because the next morning we had another lesson with our instructor, Justin. I was looking forward to learning more about how to stay up. Except this time, I wanted to go a little faster.

Cuz that’s smart after two days of skiing, right?

Justin obliged and took me through some more thoughts about the sport of skiing. We started skiing down more Blue runs. We had lunch at Two Elk and then began our adventure on the Back Side Bowls! If you have ever been to Vail, you probably know about this. I didn’t.

I thought the “front side of the mountain” was it. NOPE! The Back Side Bowls. They’re named after Asian meals and zoos and Russia and tofu or some other stuff.

As I turned left out of Two Elk on my skis, I looked around and all I saw was white. Snow. Slopes. Downhill. Eminent injury was on the menu for the day. And I was going into the bowls that served up that meal. Fortunately, my ski poles doubled as chopsticks for my China Bowl surprise.

As we finish the catwalk, China Bowl is staring me in the face, or what I could see of it! Justin told me to take my time and let’s meet “at that tree down there.”

“That tree” looked like a Lego tree from my point of view. Needless to say, I had some work to do.

I got there, after shifting and balancing and straightening and reaching. But I got there.

The next catwalk took us to the bottom of the bowl to take the lift up to the top again to the Blue Sky Basin… As we were taking the 30 minute ski lift up to the top of this part of this particular part of the mountain, I got to see all of these wonderful skiers and snowboarders taking the mountain from all kind of different angles and directions. Closer to the top, we get to see snowboarders dropping down a rocky slope that had a drop of about 80 degrees.

I was not going to go down that slope was I?

But Justin was on the lift behind me. I had to wait to hear from him in regards to our direction.

Let’s say I got a little anxious.

Thankfully, that wasn’t in the cards for me. I did get to ski through trees and around rocks and what not. The views were amazing. The powder was right. The weather was perfect. Over the course of our trip, Vail received 27 inches of snow. The locals were excited. I could only think about how big of a snowman you could build. Until I strapped those skis on. Then survival mode took over.

But I digress.

After lunch at Wildwood, we had some more great times skiing. We were then on our way back to our place of stay. We had to cover 7 miles.

7 miles.

We were a little out of the way. But the Back Side Bowls and the Blue Sky Basin are sooooo worth it! If you go, get to the Back Side Bowls! Loads of beautiful country and loads of awesome runs, and non-runs to discover.

On our 7 mile trek, I was a little fatigued. I hadn’t fallen all day…ok, I fell right after lunch. My ankles and knees were a little lethargic after the tasty morsels we consumed. I was tired.

We got to a Blue run in the middle of the front of these mountain. I had nice speed. I had nice form. I was using the edges of my skis. But. The menu for the day was served up nicely on a slope of snow.

After I woke up, my instructor told me that I was pointed at 1 and 11 o’clock. I should have been pointing to 2 or 2:30 and 10 or 9:30 as I came down this pretty steep slope. My edges caught the snow. Yep. I was now on the snow. No skis on. And a huge pain in my neck and my head. I had to lay there a second. Or two. Ok, five minutes later…

I slowly worked my way down the rest of the slope while ringing the bells away from my head. I caught up to my wife and her family. I remember them all looking at me with concern. I was thankful for their concern.

But I still had 3 miles to get back to the place we were staying!

Justin was good to take it pretty easy on us for the remainder of the trip across the mountain. We got to the Gondola that started it all…and my wife accompanied me as I rode down…ON the Gondola.

I was ok with it though. I couldn’t move my neck too well.

We got back to the room and jumped in the hot tub.

I had another day of skiing to worry about!

5th day in Vail. 4th day on the mountain. No instructor. Hmmm…what would today bring?

I soon found out.

We traveled straight to the Back Side Bowls and the Blue Sky Basin. Same trip as the day before, except it was the first thing we did that day. It was a BLAST! I had all my energy. My neck hurt a little, but the skiing was AWESOME!

I used all the lessons Justin had given me from the two previous ski days. What a wonderful day of skiing! I did fall about three times, I think. But that’s it! I was all over Blue runs. The Green runs were definitely manageable. The Blue runs were challenging, but I had control and it was, in the words of my father-in-law, “exhilarating.”

The last run of the day was called Simba.


It was a Blue run on the very right hand side of the map. It was one that I looked out at every morning when I went to the window. It was calling me since the first day I got to Vail. On the first day, no way.

But it was my fourth day on skis. Today was the day for Simba.

It was steep. It was narrow in parts. It was fast. It was mine!

At the bottom of the final run of the final day, I looked back at Simba and I thought to myself, “Mufasa, you can lift me up to the other animals on this Mountain. I am Simba! Vail is my territory! I’ll be back to accomplish more again!”

Then my edges caught the snow and I almost fell. More to learn, I guess. 😉

I realized a couple of things from this portion of the trip.
1. Your edges are important. Use them appropriately. Carve and skid when necessary. When you use your edges inappropriately, you’ll know. And so will your knees. And your face. And your neck. And more…
2. Confidence can only be manufactured through practice. Yeah, I may have been ranked as a level 5 skier, but I don’t have the experience that most level 5’s have. Practice will provide me with real confidence, not cockiness.
3. “Know what you’re doing, then you can do what you want.” My instructor’s sage advice.
4. Our bodies are built in a way to receive and transfer energy, if we aren’t flexed. When we flex, our body is battered and beat up from the elements.
5. There is a fine line between control and disaster. I found it and crossed it. Thankfully it just cost me whiplash. I will be getting a helmet for the next trip.
6. That fine line is also known as exhilaration.

Cheers to Vail. Cheers to the Back Side Bowls and the Blue Sky Basin. Cheers to my family-in-law for allowing me to slow their skiing trip down by learning.

May our lives be exhilarating! May we know that fine line and experience life in brand new ways.


One comment

  1. Pingback: Top 5 from 2013 | marklchampion

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