Learning to ski

10 Things about Skiing/Snowboarding that Make me Cringe

Now that we finally have some snow in Tahoe, all of a sudden there are crowds. And lines.  When the hills get crowded, rude and foolish behavior become pervasive. I’m always amazed by the things people do that occupy the gray area between bad manners and stupidity. Here are 10 things that make me cringe:

10. Skiing or riding on terrain that you clearly are not skilled for. One word: lessons.

9. People who duck ropes to enter closed terrain “because the snow is better.” Did you see this article about the rise in deaths related to  “side country” skiing,  i.e. just out of the boundaries of ski resorts?  If you get into trouble and get hurt, you endanger your own health, but also that of the ski patrollers who have to come and fetch you.

8. Skiers and riders who lack situational awareness. If you’re ripping down the hill and you see kids in front of you, slow down. They make unpredictable turns and the more space you give them, the better. For everyone.

7.  Skiers and riders who stop in the middle of a trail where they can’t be seen from above. This is a good way to get  hit, even though…

6. … the skier/rider who is downhill has the right of way whether s/he’s crossing a trail, turning, or stopping. Always.

5. Getting in the doubles line when you’re single. It just messes everything up.

4. People who step out of their skis/board and just leave their gear sitting at the bottom of the stairs or entrance to the lodge.   The racks are there for a reason, people.

3. The bro-dude slamming a PBR in line. Chances are very good that he’s not as good a skier/rider as he thinks he is and he presents a serious hazard to my family and me. Save it for Après, s’il vous plaît.

2. Adults who ski/ride without helmets.  D-U-M-B.

1. Parents who let their kids ski/ride without helmets. D-U-M-B-E-R.
What makes you crazy when you’re skiing or riding with your kids?
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My Three Words: Let’s Go Skiing!

My son, who is a suddenly sarcastic teenager, recently told me that I should quit my job as a writer and pursue a new career: police photographer. “A cop because you are such a rule enforcer,” Liam said, “and a photographer because you just l-o-v-e to take pictures.”

Fair enough. I will admit to being a rule follower. And I do love to take photos — especially of my kids. I tell them often that when they have kids of their own they will not be required to take a single photo of them. Ever.  But while they live with me, they are subjected to my whims.

We were skiing a few weeks ago at Squaw Valley and I shot this video to submit to Good Morning America’s Your Three Words. If you haven’t seen this Saturday morning segment — it’s usually the last five minutes of the show — check it out.I just love it. Each week the producers pick a song and then they flash a series of quick video that viewers have sent in. They have themes on occasion. For example, a few weeks ago all the videos were of Oscar nominees. Anyway, it’s fun. Here’s my entry:

My video hasn’t appeared on GMA yet but even my kids think it’s not as embarrassing as they thought it would be.

What have you done to mortify your kids lately? Do tell.


Skiing with kids. Why we do it.

Two winters ago my husband, Robert, and I chased our three kids, then 5, 9 and 12,  down Upper Lakeview, one of the easier black diamond runs at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe (our local hill).  When we all gathered at the bottom, he looked at me and said, “Thanks for doing that.”

I almost burst into tears.

You see, I was the one who had schlepped the kids up the hill to Mt. Rose just about every weekend, for years. Rob would come along occasionally, but he snowboards and is much pickier about the conditions than I am. Read: It must be sunny. It must be 35 degrees out (at least). There must be at least 6 inches of fresh snow. And he doesn’t like Saturdays because it’s too crowded.

Bottom line: the kids and I ski at least 25 days a season and he’s lucky to get 5.

(This is a photo we took just after our big run.)

As any ski-parent knows, the early years of skiing are FILLED with tears. And the tears are not only the kids’.

There have been many, many days when I’ve thought: Why in God’s name am I doing this? Skiing is expensive. It can be dangerous (more on that later). It can be very, very cold. In short, it can be a huge, huge hassle.

The kids sometimes seem like they could care less. But the fact is, they  love it  as much as I do. Maybe not every-weekend-love-it, but they do love it.

I wanted to make sure that my kids learned how to ski, properly, early. I’m self taught, but they’ve had enough lessons that their bad habits will not stick with them the way that mine have stayed with me.

A few weeks ago I read this essay about the family ski trip by the astute David Carr, the media reporter for the New York Times, that summed it all up. He does a great job of capturing the drama that is family skiing.

When my kids complain about our ski outings, which they do less and less often, I tell them that someday if they need psychotherapy they can say it’s because I forced them to learn to ski (and golf). And then I say: Get some perspective, people.
What life lessons have you learned from skiing with your family. Are you glad you stuck with it?