Hitting The Slopes – Quite Literally – Until One Beginner Skiers Tip
When the PR company I just joined invited me to go on their annual ski trip to Mammoth Mountain, I was both thrilled and a bit apprehensive.
First of all, I had only been on the job a week and they were inviting me on their retreat. That was exciting. But then again, I barely knew any of my co-workers (and bosses) and did not want to do anything that would jeopardize my new position, so I was cautious about in my approach to it.
Plus, I did not know how to ski.
This was the worst part – I did not want to confess I had only been on a slope once before in my life, and that was a tiny run on a beginner’s slope in Gatlinburg, TN. This was Mammoth Mountain in California’s Sierra Nevadas, a place that I quickly learned lived up to its name.
Naturally, I did not want to confess I did not know how to ski and while part of the company bonding experience was skiing together, I made up an excuse that I had to rent equipment and would catch up with them later. Everyone was either expert or advanced intermediate level – and boss man was good friends of Warren Miller, he of the awesome and original ski extreme movies – and I did say I was a “self-taught beginner.”
How’s that for good PR!?
I rented my skis and had been advised the best area for me would be off chair 15, which was not the main lodge. So I headed there and managed to get off the lift with no problem, made a turn and ran smack dab into a steep run.
There’s no way I could negotiate that without killing myself so I tried to go down it gingerly. As anyone who has ever skied will tell you, that doesn’t work. I wound up going about 10 feet in half an hour while still staring at the imposing downhill in front of me.
Finally, I said “this is ridiculous; if you fall it’s only snow” and pointed the skis to the bottom.
I took off in a hurry and had one problem: I did not know how to stop. So I did the next best thing: I intentionally wiped out in order to come to a stop.
Eventually, I kind of got the hang of being on the skis but could not figure out how to turn or stop. So I called upon my years of baseball experience and simply did a slide.
Back at the condo that evening – over many beers; turns out this crew liked to party! – I confessed my lack of ski skills and said I just wish I knew how to stop. That’s when a co-worker’s husband gave me a great tip that I use to this day.
“Just stick out your butt,” he said.
I tried it the next day and by golly it worked like a charm. After a few practice runs, I even joined the group and managed to sort of keep up, tho I had a couple classic wipeouts that I learned in skiing were called “yard sales.”
And I always wonder what would have happened if the guy on the first trip had not told me to stick out my butt. I doubt I would have ever been comfortable on skis.
Now I am truly a “self-taught intermediate.”