Conquering My Fear: Learning to Ski (again) as an Adult
By: Cassie Russo
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Who’s “they” anyways? I wouldn’t consider myself old, but this being my 21st season on snow, it’s been a while. My parents put me on skis the moment I mastered walking without wobbling so hard that I fell to the ground. I am told that I was fearless on my skis – bounding down the bunny slope in my neon one-piece suit, arms outstretched and not a turn in sight.
While I progressed to the green and blue trails into my middle school years, my older brother decided to try something new, something that you didn’t see so often on the mountain in the 90’s. Snowboarding.
I was intrigued. Like any young child wanting to be as cool as their older sibling, I wrote a long, extensive letter to Santa about how I would be OK with him not bringing me anything for Christmas for the rest of my life (besides maybe a Tamagotchi or Easy-Bake Oven), that I’ll do all my homework and I’ll always empty the dishwasher when Mom asks me the first time, as long as he brought me a snowboard this year. I still remember the tears of joy streaming down my face as I awoke that December 25 to an odd shaped rectangular box with a snowflake bow wrapped around it.
The weeks that followed were full of bruised knees and cries of frustration. Anyone learning to snowboard knows that it’s not a walk in the park. But when I finally was able to leave the falling leaf turns behind me, I was hooked. I mastered the sport over the next few years, turning it into a career and strapping in every single day, feeling more comfortable on my snowboard than off it.
You can imagine my fear, then, being an adult and trying skiing again for the first time in 14 years. On my snowboard, I don’t have second thoughts before turning down the steepest double blacks or weaving through the trees as branches smack my helmet. But skiing again? I was terrified. The thought of having my feet on two separate planks made me shiver. However, it was my New Years resolution to get back on skis, and Stratton’s critically acclaimed Women on Snow Camp was my chance.
I was embarrassed at how nervous I felt as I clicked into my skis the morning of the camp, already apologizing to my instructor, Christina, for my horrible skiing skills before I even set foot on the magic carpet. “It’s all about confidence,” she encouraged me after she noted how stiff my body was. She started with the basics, explaining the pizza and french fry concept and working up to long and winding ‘S’ turns, including metaphors that made learning feel easy. Our group progressed quickly, making it to the Tamarack learning lift by 10a.m. As the morning went on, I started to feel more and more like a skier, with the encouragement from the ladies in my group and Christina. Somewhere on Lower Tamarack, I had what you could call a mind/body epiphany. Christina’s tips and cheers of “You got it! There you go!” got to me, and I was skiing parallel. Before I knew it, we were gliding down from the Stratton summit on Mike’s Way.
It will take a while to get my skiing where I want it to be, but I would be nowhere without the support of the ladies from Women on Snow camp and my incredible instructor.
Anyone who is nervous to learn to ski or ride as an adult, know that you’re not alone. The Women on Snow camp helped me realize that. The multi-day all-women camp is filled with fun on and off the slopes, with social hours, opportunities to demo and access to the fitness center included. The camp is open to everyone – whether you’re looking to improve your skills or are totally new to the sport. Lucky for you, there’s two more camps this season! Check out the details here.
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About the Author
Cassie Russo | Growing up in central Massachusetts, Cassie ventured to the snowy mountains of Vermont almost every weekend until her late teens to enjoy her passion – snowboarding. After working at a ski shop while studying for a degree in journalism, Cassie knew Vermont was her next destination. You can now find her living her dream of residing in Vermont, pursuing a writing career and strapping a snowboard to her feet every day. When the snow melts, you can find her on her paddle board, on the tennis courts and searching for the next adventure.
Cassie’s Instagram and Twitter:@cassachusetts