It's Our Turn: A flaky, fluky time on the slopes for first-time skierThe big blasts of snow we’ve been getting made me think about skiing, which triggered memories of a fluky-but-true experience I had back in my high school days in Parkers Prairie.
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
The big blasts of snow we’ve been getting made me think about skiing, which triggered memories of a fluky-but-true experience I had back in my high school days in Parkers Prairie.
Our class took a trip to Sugar Hills Ski Lodge near Grand Rapids. Unlike my friends, I was a total newbie to skiing. As soon as they got their skis, they whooshed off to the big hills, leaving me in a cloud of snow. I was on my own.
It took me half an hour just to figure out how to make my skis stay on. They kept falling off every time I moved. Finally, I watched closely as someone else donned their skis and realized that you have to forcefully step down into the binding to sort of snap them in place. See how much of a rookie I was?
I tried the bunny hill a few times and slowly, tentatively, started to get the hang of it. I used one trick very often. Whenever I started to go too fast or veer off somewhere where I didn’t want to go, I fell down. I fell down a lot. I could not come close to mastering that move where skiers gracefully swing their skis to the side to come to a quick stop. It was easier to just fall down.
After falling down so many times that it became my trademark style, I decided to venture out to a bigger hill – one that was described as “intermediate,” but to me looked like the Swiss Alps.
The hill had something I’d never seen: A rope tow to haul skiers up the hill. I watched as skier after skier skillfully grasped the rope with one hand and reached behind their back with the other and effortlessly let the rope pull them to the top.
After working up some courage, I gave it a whirl. My skis didn’t cooperate. They veered to the right while I was trying to go straight. So I fell down. I tried it again and fell down, this time causing three skiers to pile up behind me and fall down as well.
Finally, after a few more falls, I figured out how to stay sort-of upright and hold on to the rope, which I was clinging to with dear life as I slowly made it up the hill.
Then, about halfway there, I saw a skier at the top, a stranger to me, who was shouting and waving, trying to get my attention. “My pole!” he yelled while pointing off to the side. “Can you get my pole?”
I saw the pole, lying in the snow straight ahead just a few feet to the side of the tow rope. Those few feet, however, might as well have been the expanse of the Antarctic. There was no way I was going to unclench the rope, swoop over to the pole and reach down to retrieve it without taking a major spill or causing a massive pileup.
But I thought I’d at least try. For a fraction of a second, I took my right hand off the rope and made a feeble lunge toward the pole, not even coming close to where it was, and then quickly resumed my death grip on the rope.
When I got to the top, the shouting skier said, “Hey, thanks! Thanks a lot.” At first, I thought he was being sarcastic but then I noticed him looking at my ski poles, which I had securely fastened to my wrists, and I thought that he was mistaking one of my poles for his.
When I looked down at my right pole, however, I was stunned to see another pole caught in its tip. In a flash, it dawned on me: The momentum from that feeble lunge I’d made caused my ski pole to swing out toward the other pole. It snagged it somehow, and I’d dragged it all the way up the hill, entirely by accident.
Thinking I could salvage something out of my uncool day on the slopes, I hid my amazement, reached down and handed him the pole. “No problem,” I said, skiing away – and then, of course, falling down.
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“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.