I've avoided skiing for three decades. Throughout the years, I've dodged any opportunity that has come my way because of fear of embarrassing myself on the slopes. See, ever since I was a child, I haven't been the most coordinated or flexible person around. I've gone to the gym for the last decade and have improved, but recent self-headlines reinforce what I've known for quite some time:
- I've torn ligaments between my right big toe and second toe playing... wait for it... softball.
- I fell off a Segway, which I'm told is pretty much impossible.
- Stretching before a workout feels like a workout.
- I've gotten thrown off my Wii Fitness board.
- I broke my leg playing chess.
OK, that last one is a line from Revenge of the Nerds 2, but I know my limitations. Still, this year I wanted to free my mind of past pratfalls. As my sixth 29th birthday approaches, I wanted to try something new... something that I feared. This past weekend, I went skiing for the first time, and I'm delighted to say I didn't embarrass myself that much. The reason is quite simple: it's where I skied. With a friend, his fiancée, and my wife, I visited the Hunter Mountain ski resort in the quaint town Hunter, NY. The resort, which is only three hours away from New York City (far less of a trip than Vermont), has been around since the late 1950s, and throughout the years countless friends and family have told me about their great reputation. With my nerves ridden with jelly, the knowledgeable Hunter staff immediately put me at ease right away on my visit. One employee told me on the line to have lessons to clear my head and "have fun." I did.
Check-in was seamless (registration is via computer, and many staff members are working at the rental center), and the lessons -- offered multiple times a day -- were fruitful. Along with my rookie self, my party consisted of skiers with intermediate and black diamond abilities, and each of us found the instructors experienced and helpful no matter what trail we were on. In my case, I had a 15-year-old ski stud who could have easily poked fun at me (I got off the lift, and fell right down) but he didn't. Instead, he encouraged me to keep up the good work and complimented me on how hard I was trying out of the gate. On the flipside, my wife's instructor was a skiing veteran with 37 years of experience, and he helped her improve her form. No matter the age or ability, the instructors put us all at ease and the lines are never daunting to get on the lifts (at least when I went).
The whole Hunter experience (skiing, snowtubing, dining, shopping) and staying at the nearby Hunter Inn made for a refreshing and productive weekend outside of the big city. I'm appreciative to Hunter Mountain for helping me face my fears, surprise myself, and keep my bones intact. I may not be ready to tap the Rockies, but I am ready and excited to try it again. Cue "Such Great Heights" from The Postal Service.