Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Winter (11/14/05)
TITLE: Down THAT hill?!
By Donna Haug
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The next winter we headed down to Minnesota to do some real mountain skiing. Upon arrival at the mountain, we wasted no time. We stood in line to rent our skis and piled on the winter gear for a day on the slopes. We all met outside and snapped on our skis. I figured the ski lift must be right around the chalet somewhere. That’s where I made my first mistake. I was still trying to remember all I had learned in my one skiing experience the previous winter. Now I discovered that in order to get to the bottom of the ski lift, we had to ski down a narrow winding road with a hill going up the one side and a drop off on the other. There were no nice wide areas for me to use my handy snowplow moves. I was terrified! All the other young whipper-snappers whizzed by me and raced towards the bottom of the hill. My sweet husband, Mark, stuck with me and encouraged me. “You can do it, Honey. There’s lots of room! Look!” Yeah! With my heart thumping in my chest so hard I could scarcely breathe, I finally made it to the bottom of the hill. I was so relieved I stopped right there. Mistake number two. If I had kept up my speed, I would have made it up the shallow but steady incline just a little ways more to the bottom of the ski lift. Since I had stopped, I now had to wield those monstrous contraptions UP a hill. Exhausted, I finally caught up with the rest of the group. They were all chattering among themselves as they decided on a certain run and slid quickly to stand in line to go up the ski lift. I made it on and off the lift with only a little wobble. I had conquered the mountain!
We met up with the others eagerly anticipating the first run of the day. From the top there was a selection of signed runs to choose from. The green circle was for beginners, also known as the bunny slopes. A blue square was the intermediate level - the extent of my abilities acquired in the “mountains” of Manitoba. The black diamond meant steeper runs and was usually much narrower, meant only for experienced skiers.
I looked around at all the options. Not one of them had a nice blue square! Everywhere I looked was black diamonds. My heart plummeted. Mark was aching to chase down the teens, but I had seemingly hit an “iceberg”. There was no way! The tears welled up, the panic took over, and no amount of coaxing could get me to go down that hill. I would take the skis off and slide down on my bottom if I had to.
Mark became my hero that day. He came up with an ingenious solution. He stood in front of me with his back to the slope and his skis in a backwards snowplow. “Come on! I’ll ski down backwards and act as your brakes!” Wiping tears away with my snow covered mittens, I pointed the end of my ski poles at him. He held onto them and we began a slow and terrifying ride to the bottom of the mountain. Not only did Mark not give me a hard time about my fear, but he stayed with me on the chicken runs – I mean, the bunny slopes until I regained my confidence.
I’m happy to say that by the end of the weekend, I had conquered that mountain. And I had fun doing it! But I could never have done it without my hero.
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