This kid from Indiana had never been on skis until he was 37, living in West Germany, and only an hour away from a small ski place, Spitzingsee. After many falls (some of them painful), I got hooked. There’s nothing like a good day on skis.
I’m looking forward to a trip to Vermont next month with my son Jack and his two daughters, Daniella and Cristiana. The girls have been skiing for a few years, and it’s time for them to know how to handle certain situations on and off the slopes.
1. You don’t have to talk to people on the lifts if you don’t want to. Even the friendliest person can find it tiresome to be asked by 40 strangers in one day, “Where are you from?” You can either ignore the question or say, “Kurdistan, Kurdistan. No English.”
2. When you order chicken noodle soup at lunch and the counter guy sneezes into his sleeve as he lifts the lid off the pot, tell him you’ve changed your mind and will take the chili, without onions, please.
3. When the visibility on a steep run in Vermont suddenly deteriorates to zero and you discover the only ski map you have on you is for a small mountain in Pennsylvania, don’t panic. Not immediately anyway. Forget about using your cellphone to find a map. There probably won’t be enough light to see whatever pops up on the screen. Your choices are (a) waiting for another skier to come along who knows the easiest way down, (b) prayer or (c) both.
4. If the counter guy sneezes into his sleeve near the chili pot, speak up right away and tell him you’ve changed your mind again and check out what’s available in the way of wrapped sandwiches.
5. Accept the fact that some skiers never open or close the safety bar on chair lifts. They wait for someone else to do it, and you are that someone.
6. Regardless of how spectacular the scenery is, there are those who will be constantly staring down at their cellphones or talking up a nonsensical storm on them, never bothering to enjoy the views. Rather than be upset, accept the fact that numbskulls are everywhere. If you can’t bite your tongue, then I suggest talking out loud and saying something along the lines of, “Resigned. He just up and resigned. No warning at all. The president resigned. I don’t believe it!”
7. If you drop a ski glove in a toilet, leave it. Don’t try to retrieve it. It’s not your fault that ski lodges insist you leave your ski poles outside when they could be so useful sometimes inside.
8. Drink a lot of water when you’re in the mountains. Should you forget this tip, remember there’s a lot of water in beer.
9. Snow boarders can be annoying. They make loud, scraping noises coming down a mountain, and you never really know how close behind you they are. To save yourself from temptation, always ski in a state where the NRA is weak and firearms on the slopes are illegal.
10. On a bitterly cold, windy day, you will ride up a lift with your face stinging and your extremities freezing and you will ask yourself, “Why in the world am I doing this?” Once off the lift and speeding down the mountain you will find your answer: it’s one hell of a lot of fun. There’s nothing like it.
10 a. After a couple of visits to a ski resort, you will know if the wise thing to do is to skip the chicken noodle soup, the chili and the sandwiches and bring your own lunch.
Enjoy yourselves. And anyone who tells you ski boots are supposed to hurt is full of it.
The picture is from St. Anton, Austria.