"Don't lean back or you'll lose control. Keep your weight in the center!" Elyssa shot at me while I was moving down the bunny hill. For the last hour or so, she has been instructing me and 3 of my friends as we struggled learning how to ski for the first time. For a moment I thought I should have gone with another friend who opted to learn snowboarding. Perhaps it's easier? Except for zip-lining, sandboarding (Chile) and a Tarzan-swing (Costa Rica), I don't have much experience with gravity-induced activities.
|Checking in for school|
Learning to ski didn't cross my mind until friends prodded me, this so late in the season. "Don't worry, it may not be snowing in the city but they have machines to make snow up there in the mountains", one friend told me. Really.There are several ski resorts in the Northeast but we opted for Shawnee Mountain in Pennsylvania, just under two hours drive from New York City. With their "Beginner's Package", we paid only $69 for unlimited lift ticket, ski/snowboard rental and of course, instructions.
As a sport, skiing is expensive. Avid skiers invest on a good pair of skis, boots, poles and clothing which significantly make it more costly than just playing say basketball or badminton. (One item which I got - and which I will be needing for a future trip - was an insulated waterproof softshell pants, bought via www.sierratradingpost.com at an already discounted price of $89!). Then you add the cost of staying at hotels plus the season passes/lift tickets and you get a headache even before you hit the slopes. And I'm not even talking about Aspen here.
|A toddler on the slope?|
After paying and signing off our lives on a lengthy piece of waiver, we got our skis, boots and poles. Except for a pocket camera, I had to store my extra stuff in a locker. It took awhile for me to get used to the heaviness of the ski boots - they're really heavy that we felt like damn robots walking with a big "thud" with each step on the floor.
While waiting for our turn with the lessons at Shawnee, we got a good look at experienced skiers as they moved swiftly downhill. The slopes all vary in their level of difficulty. What caught my attention were kids as young as 5 or 6 already doing their fancy turns on the intermediate level, making us feel so ancient having to start at the easiest slope. Oh if only there was snow in the Philippines!
Thankfully, it wasn't just us who grew up in the tropics that was in ski school. There were several others too. Elyssa was assigned to our group of four and she immediately got us going with the basics. With our skis and our poles, we moved sideways, backwards, so on. Probably the most important step she taught us was the snowplough, or making the "V" or pie shape position. Each one of us had to demonstrate this basic step until she was satisfied before she got us into doing the turns.
|My classmates with Elyssa - the ski instructor|
|The bunny hill|
Once on my own up on the "beginner's hill" - things got a bit scary as I pointed my skis downhill. I went fast, so fast and lost control till I landed on my butt. This went on and on again, with me landing on my butt. I can't seem to remember what I was just taught. Meanwhile, young kids were zipping past by me. What a shame. We need to do this again. Next year.