Growing up I was a skater. I learned to skate when I was about 3 years old and never really stopped. I Figured Skated and played Hockey and that was really the extent of my winter activities (besides the occasional sledding outing). Skiing never really appealed to me. It looked like fun and all my friends did it. But I just never was that interested in trying it. Being in Austria, I felt (and still do feel) guilty for not being a skier. People come from all over the world to ski the many mountains and hills. I’ve been here for 3 winters now and have always said I should try it but never really pulled the trigger, until a few weeks ago.
Andrew had friends visiting from Alaska. They go skiing quite often and wanted to go while they were here. So after being pressured (they didn’t have to twist my arm that much), I decided to go with them. This was going to be my first time skiing and it was going to be in the Austrian Alps. Gulp!
We got to the mountain and got outfitted in all our gear. I felt confident walking to the lift. I had spent the night before watching some YouTube videos and thought it looked fairly easy. Once we started I could tell this was going to be a little more difficult than I had imagined. The concept of using edges was nothing new to me but the skis were proving to be difficult to control. I took a deep breath. Everything was going to be okay.
We got to the top of the mountain. I tried my best to ski over to where one of the easy runs started. Once settled, I looked at what was around me. The views were stunning. Incredible. I had never seen mountains like this before. And definitely not from the top.
But … the look down the mountain was steep. Everyone was flying by me. I could already feel myself working up a sweat. Another deep breath. I can do this, I thought. With that, I pointed my skis down the hill and pushed off. Immediately my body grew tense. I tried turning to stop. Pizza. Then once I started going the other way, I glided across the hill. French Fry. That’s all I needed to remember. Pizza, French Fry. I started to get the hang of it but then I would catch an edge or I couldn’t keep my legs together or I’d be too worried about the people behind me and down I’d go. I probably fell 5 times down my first run. When we got down to the first landing, I needed to take a break. Whew. That was tough. The next leg of the run went a lot better. The hill wasn’t as steep and I felt I could control my speed. It was starting to get fun! Next was a steeper hill and I actually got down it without falling! We made it to the chalet and grabbed some lunch.
After lunch, we decided that the only way down the mountain was to take an intermediate run. I had accidentally jumped on one the first time around and looking at the map, it didn’t look, well, too difficult. We started skiing down the first part. I fell a couple more times but was slowly getting the hang of it. It had taken me a little more than an hour to go down the first couple runs to the chalet. So when we got to where the chairlift could take us back down, I made up my mind that, no, I could make it down the rest of the way. It would take maybe 30 minutes, maybe. Boy, was I off. As soon as I started, I knew I probably made the wrong choice. But I did not want to have to hike back up to the lift. The only way back to the car and off these skis was down. And I wanted to make it off this mountain as soon as I could.The next leg was literally straight down. It had many twists and turns that took you on the edge of cliffs. It was terrifying.
After each switch back, I would take a break and watch all the skiers zipping by me. I tried not to panic at the sight of what the next 5 minutes were going to be like until I could reach another area to stop and take a breather. I fell a bit more than the first run and even popped off a ski. Finally I could see the parking lot. I could make it. It wasn’t that much further. At this point I had figured out how to actually stop and that really made all the difference. Now my french fries were actually pointing slightly down the mountain and not horizontal. I could feel my body relaxing and I was actually really starting to enjoy it!
At last we reached the end. On the drive home, I was exhausted but I was so proud that I had tried something I feared and did not give up. I think I could actually get the hang of this sport. Thankfully the hills near Linz aren’t crazy mountains. I am going to have to take a few lessons before I try to conquer those again!