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Skiing at Whistler

Justin and I went skiing at Whistler a few weekends ago with some members of my team. It rained on Friday, unfortunately, so all the nice powder turned to slippery, hard ice. We drove over on Friday, and it was rainy but not icy on the roads, so tire chains weren't necessary. Justin was getting irritated because SUVs kept tailgating him when passing wasn't allowed. So when we passed two SUVs pulled over because one guy rearended the other, we had to cackle with glee. The group stayed in two hotels near the Whistler gondola. Turned out, there were only two of us who weren't management. We stayed at the cheaper hotel. =)

Saturday was my first day skiing, ever. I spent it in beginner lessons. Justin went off on his own, and I found him later resting with a bag of ice on his butt. At first, I considered doing lessons for both skiing and snowboarding since I was renting equipment anyway, but after putting together "icy conditions" and "snowboarders usually fall on their butts," I reconsidered. Group lessons were in groups of about 8 people with an instructor. I was the only person from my group who was from that continent, and the only person who was accustomed to snow. There were other people from Singapore, Thailand, and a girl from Brazil that I had lunch with. Her name was Ge, she was about my age and studying English in Vancouver, and she was married. The first half of the day was mildly irritating because we had to walk up this small hill each time to ski down, but after lunch, we went on the "magic carpet" (conveyor belt-style lifts) and it was more fun. I was okay while skiing, but I seemed to have more trouble when walking over to the lift. Fell down once really hard on my knees, and that left pretty bruises, thanks to the ice.

Sunday, I decided to join Justin at least for the morning to maybe do a little easy skiing away from the conveyor belts because it got pretty crowded up there with all of the people in lessons. We took the Whistler Gondola to the first stop, the beginners area. Past the conveyor belts, there was a small chair lift that looked manageable, but when we got there, they told us that they weren't opening for another 20 minutes. Rather than wait, Justin thought it would be a good idea to take the gondola further up. I cluelessly said, "Okay." BAD IDEA. I quickly realized that my instructor's statement "snowplow stop will always stop you if you put enough effort into it" was completely untrue when applied to steeper slopes than the measly ones we were on the day before. However, I did discover a very effective and timely method of stopping: wiping out.

The process worked like this:

1. I'd start moving, totally lose control, and plummet at ridiculously high speeds down steep hills.
2. Justin would try to follow behind me, thinking, "Man, I don't even think I'd trust myself to go that fast in these conditions because the fall would be absurdly bad."
3. I'd realize that there just wasn't any way I'd be able to stop normally and there was a really bad fall in my near future. The "oh crap" thoughts start to kick in.
4. Feet fly over head, or some gruesome looking fall. Skis and hat fly off about 10 feet behind me.
5. Justin catches up with me, picks up my skis and hat, gives them to me, I put them back on and repeat the process.

Yeah, that's cool and all, but as I got tired, my falls got worse. I did a lot of sliding on one side, which resulted in a really dark, grapefruit-sized bruise there that was really pretty to look at. Finally, I fell and hit my knee in a way that I really didn't like, and I decided that skiing down the rest of the way would just be stupid, so I walked down a ways to the chair lift. They wouldn't let me download, but they got this guy on skis with a cart to take me down. I stayed in bed with ice on my knee for the rest of the day.

That night we met up with the rest of my team members for dinner at Quattro. They had organized where to meet each day for people who wanted to ski down together, but I was clearly not at a level to do that, so we hadn't seen any of them yet. In fact, I only knew one of them, and he was a dev manager, so many steps above me on the food chain. When dinner conversation turned to lakefront property, I realized that most of them were several steps above me on the food chain. =) We had a good time, though.

Monday, I decided to try going back up to the beginner area. I spent a little time on the magic carpet again, but that was pretty easy and getting a little boring, so I asked one of the ski instructors about the chair lift. He said that I could probably handle it and to go up before it started getting too busy, so I did. It was a lot of fun! I managed to make it through the entire day without falling when getting off the chair lift, and I only fell once while skiing. It was the first time, and it was my fault... it wasn't clearly marked where the groomed part stopped and the icy part started, and once I got on the icy part, there was no stopping until I fell. But I was an expert at falling at this point, so that was no big deal. Justin joined me in the afternoon, and we skiied down a few times before the lifts closed. In fact, we were the last ones on the chair lift; they let us on for one last time even though it was after closing time. Moral of the story: stick to things that are your level, unless you think purple is a cool color and you want it on your knees and hips.

Pictures to follow.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 27, 2004 1:55 PM.

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