Skiing, sort of

By Jason

I’ve never been skiing before, so I was pretty excited to go on a trip with my co-workers at Google to Northstar at Tahoe. On the off chance that there’s anyone else in the world who hasn’t been skiing, I thought I would share all the things that I learned this past weekend.

- Green runs are the easiest, blue are harder, and black and double-black are the hardest. You can’t completely compare this scale from one mountain to another, but you can be sure that blue is too hard if you’ve never put skis on before. Another good rule of thumb is that the green is probably also too hard.

- As you are hurtling down the blue run, don’t worry if you’re having a hard time applying the lessons your friends are shouting to you between falls. You will have plenty of time to absorb the lessons when you get to a green run like you should in the first place. What is wrong with you?

- Ski boots are large and clunky. Even with adjustments they are pretty uncomfortable. If they are so uncomfortable that they abrade skin off your calves and shins, you need to readjust. It should only take you about half a day to figure this out.

- Skiing is expensive. Getting to and from the resort, renting a cabin, renting skis, boots, and other equipment, lift tickets, eating at the resort, etc. all ads up. The “village” at the resort is really a mall filled with expensive boutiques. I hear there are some pretty good deals if you buy a package deal with lessons, sort of how cartoon drug dealers in Just Say No ads used to give out the first dose for free.

- You should bring sunscreen on ski trips – despite the cold, your face can get exposed to a lot of UV rays. I also avoided sunburn by spending a lot of time with my face down in the snow and my arms and legs strewn about.

- To slow down, point the front of the skis toward each other and dig in with the inside edges. To really successfully employ this technique, it helps if you have done any exercise in the past year and your legs have not atrophied under a computer desk.

- Don’t be surprised to see little kids learning to ski too – and some very young kids zooming down the slopes with amazing skill. I hated them so much.

- If you are on a slope that’s too steep, you can get down by zig-zagging across instead of going straight down. I often felt like I was starting to go too fast and lose control, but in retrospect I wasn’t really. Speed = distance / time, and once I added up all the time I spent untangling my legs and standing back up, I had averaged a quite leisurely pace after all.

- When your friend calls to ask “Are you okay, I heard you had a big fall?” she is going to have to be more specific than that.

Extra special thanks to Tilek and Wysz for teaching me how to ski and sticking with me when they could have had more fun actually skiing.

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