Bittersweet Resort. Despite its name, the only bitter aspect was the 3-degree wind chill. I’ve never skied before; however, this first-time experience was sweeter than expected.
I had no prior skiing knowledge. Any time the sport came up in conversation, only Olympic replays and memories of almost touching snow popped into my head. Yet, seeing the ad for Student Activities Board’s ski trip sparked enough interest in me to venture out for one day, Jan. 25, and try this foreign pursuit.
As a native of Southern California, my chances of playing a winter sport have always been very low. The only time I got close to skiing was when I took a trip to Big Bear in San Bernardino, California, with my family when I was 7 years old. The traffic was too congested on the way there, however, so we turned around and ate Chinese food instead.
According to skiinghistory.org, skiing consists of sliding down a snow-covered hill or mountain with fixed-heel bindings on each foot. Invented before the wheel, this prehistoric activity originates in northern Russia, and alpine skiing originated simply as a better way to travel across frozen platforms. It later evolved for military usage in the 1760s A.D., when Norwegian armies would simultaneously ski and shoot their enemies. The activity became more civilian-oriented during the 1880s in Norway and some parts of Europe. Alpine skiing soon gained mass appeal, in the process making the Swiss Alps into the famous skiing spot it is today.
People ski for transportation, for recreational activity, or for competitive sporting — but personally, I did it as a challenge. Shooting down enemies was not on my agenda, but learning the basics was, in addition to filling the void of 7-year-old Danielle Lee.
Pizza is your best friend. This was the first lesson sophomore Emma Noverr, an experienced skier of 18 years, taught me in the basics of skiing. This semi-technical term is used to describe the snow plow position, and its purpose serves to control speed and balance. Maintaining both of these is essential. Once they’re achieved, the rest of the movement is all about “feeling it,” according to Noverr.
I thought I could never move past the bunny hill. Toddlers successfully executed pizza and moved on to the next hill, while I struggled to apply the technique. I needed to have some enthusiasm or zealous energy to learn this sport. But I also needed guidance and advice from experienced skiers, like Noverr, to refine and improve my skills.
A lot of athletes approach skiing with a “gung-ho” attitude. Americans define “gung-ho” as “enthusiastic” or “overzealous.” But this expression — adopted from Mandarin — holds a very different meaning traditionally. In Mandarin, the term is spelled “gong-he” and means “work together.”
These two distinct cultures hold separate connotations for the same phrase, yet, both meanings can apply to skiing. Zealous to beat the bunny hill, and working together with the help of instructors, I moved from Baby’s Breath to Sweet Pea, and later Apple Blossom. (The steeper the hill, the bigger the plant the hill was named after.)
Yet, my goal was to ski Creeping Myrtle. This hill is not particularly steep, but what attracted me to it was its complexity. Everytime the ski lift cruised above Myrtle, I watched skiers caress its smooth, bleached curvature. I wanted to ski this hill — and I did. I felt the compelling nature of skiing in every turn, gliding down the plane. The rush of adrenaline dissipated, my velocity felt constant, and I eventually took notice of the surrounding nature. The scenery was simple: Snow-frosted landscape; pine trees; a serene atmosphere. I couldn’t attain this appreciation anywhere else.
A skier at the resort said you either go all out, or you don’t do it at all. The greatest rewards come from what’s least expected: Approach skiing “gung-ho.”