“Real snow at last!”, I exclaimed when I finally had the good fortune to view the pristine white landscape from the bus window and later on, on the ski slopes. The drive to North Lake Tahoe was scenic no doubt, but I was understandably fascinated by the whiteness all around since I had never seen real snow covering such a large area before. It sparkled in the sunlight and lay in smooth mounds all over like large scoops of vanilla ice-cream.
At short notice, my husband and I had planned to go on a trip one Sunday in mid-April to learn to ski. Those were the final days of a mild winter and we knew it could be almost our last chance before the next season. For a one-day plan, the Ski Bus from Bay Area, California to Lake Tahoe, California was the way to go for a hassle-free and enjoyable ride. We reached the ski resort called Northstar California at around 9 a.m. and collected our rental gear: snow boots, skis and ski poles. The large boots that we wore felt super heavy, as if the gravitational force had doubled when putting one foot in front of the other and made us awkwardly maneuver the way to the cable cars that took us to the top of the mountain. After we got off and looked around to see people whizzing down slopes on their skis and snowboards, our hearts began to tingle with excitement at the prospect of learning to ski for the first time ever!
Our instructor Alex first showed our group of newbies how to clasp the skis to our boots and how to remove them. Having the skis attached seemed like having new extension organs growing out of our feet that we had to learn how to get used to. He taught us ways to walk up an incline and we learned the basic technique used to stop ourselves when skiing down, which is the “pizza” formation (like a ‘V’ shaped pizza slice) that is made with skis pointing toward each other. Cute little kids starting from the age of three took lessons alongside us and it was endearing to see many little ones bundled up in thick, warm clothes come fearlessly and effortlessly down the slopes.
Of course, our first time skiing was on bunny slopes. A carpet lift, also called a “magic carpet” carried us up. At the top, we got off and cautiously stood overlooking the small slope. The incline was not very steep and our instructor encouraged us to start. We positioned ourselves and … off we went smoothly down! Naah! That was not what happened. Let me try again. Off we went…and down we came in a matter of seconds, legs in a tangle, smack on our bottoms, heads pointed upwards towards the bright blue sky and the shining sun laughing in our faces! Hahaha! Gravity, inertia and lack of friction were our enemies!
Thus began the first of our numerous attempts at skiing down, each time falling down in comical positions, even bumping into other people on the way down and at times shrieking aloud as we realized we had picked up too much speed that was difficult to control. But slowly we began to get the hang of it and by lunchtime had backsides that were less sore (or maybe we had got used to it by then)!
On that day, which was the last day the Northstar would be open for skiing, to welcome spring, the resort had hosted their annual “Spring It On Pond Skim” competition. Loud music blared while competitors came down a slope on snowboards and made daring attempts to skim across a pond at the bottom. Here are two exciting videos:
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After lunch break, we went up the ski lift to the beginner slopes where we were taught to control the pressure and direction on each leg to ski down in a zigzag way. It was very tough to do that and the snow melting, turning into slippery ice due to the harsh afternoon sun did not help matters. It should suffice to say that we fell down so hard and so often on that slope that we decided to call it a day soon after! Even after the ski equipment was removed and returned, we could not get rid of the ghostly sensation of still wearing (invisible) ski boots and skis and kept imagining the balancing motion of sliding ourselves over snow! We returned home by bus tired but happy and already looking forward to a ski visit next winter.