By Jim Callicott
I have discovered that putting on a pair of skis and subjecting your body to a wild, mad dash down the side of a mountain on cold wet snow is an excellent way, invented by man, to commit suicide.
My discovery came a few years ago while taking a winter break from chilly 60 degree daytime temperatures in Texas to visit friends in Utah, where winter temperatures rival those of the Artic.
In order to entertain me, I think that was their motive, my friends suggested a trip to a ski resort near Salt Lake City. Their recommendation was a resort named Snowbird. After my experience, Snowbird is listed as my last resort. A return visit will never be on my bucket list as I came close to kicking the bucket on my first, and only, excursion.
I figured we would arrive at the resort, enter the lodge and have a drink or two, maybe dinner, and stand by the large window and watch folks fly down the mountain. Perhaps autograph the cast of some who didn’t make it down the mountain in one piece.
Instead I was informed that I had been signed up for a ski lesson. I had to contain my excitement. I also had to contain my urge to run screaming out of the building and hide in the car.
“I don’t have any skis,” I said.
“The skis come with the lesson,” was the reply as my friends led me out a side door.
For those who are unknowing, skis are a pair of long, thin boards made of wood, metal or plastic which are connected to your feet in order to glide across the snow. They can also be used as an emergency crutch if you glide into a tree or off a cliff. They can help rescuers locate you if you go into the snow head first.
The skis were attached to my feet. I went from my regular shoe size to feet that are now eight feet long. You don’t walk in skis, you slide over the snow or in my case, you fall into the snow.
The first thing you learn once you have attached the skis to your feet is there are no brakes. You are at the mercy of gravity. The instructor says you can stop by pointing the tips of your skis at each other, kind of like a V shape. Once you’ve had experience, to stop you simply jump in the air, turn your skis 90 degrees to the left, land in the snow and that will either stop you or flip you uncontrollability down the mountain.
I tried stopping using the V shape method. The instructor caught me before I ran into a tree that wouldn’t move out of the way. I quickly figured out the best was to stop was to merely fall down. Except with eight feet long feet, it is almost impossible to stand back up with out aid. AAA doesn’t respond to “man down in snow” calls. I got to know the instructor on a first name basis.
Skiers wear special skiing outfits that keep them warm and dry. I had on blue jeans, a shirt and jacket. By the time the lesson was mercifully over, I was wet from my head to my eight feet long feet.
“Wasn’t that a lot of fun,” said my friends.
“Yes,” I said, “and so is a colonoscopy.”
I made it back to Texas before the flu and pneumonia set in. I miss two weeks work. I now live in the shadows of a ski resort which I have declared off limits from October to April. I made it off one mountain alive. I will not temp fate again.