Can You Believe I’ve Lived in Maine for 20+ Years and Just Tried Skiing?
Every year, from high school into college, I heard the same tall tale from my friends: “I’ll take you skiing this winter. You can borrow my family’s gear. I will teach you.”
Come winter, nobody wants to bring to the mountain the kid who doesn’t know how to ski. Who wants to deal with that nuisance?
I had looked into lessons before, but it was always such a hassle: Renting equipment I knew nothing about, trying to find a reasonable lesson I could somewhat afford.
I’ve waved the white flag every year.
Except for this year, when I discovered that Sunday River offers an “Adult First Experience Lesson” for those who have never stood on a pair of skis or snowboard before. Or, if you’re like me, someone who has never even been on a mountain in winter before.
I swear I grew up in Maine.
The drive up to the mountain to my first class was something out of a Hallmark movie. It was the first day we had fluffy snow falling and accumulating on the ground, and the early 7:30 a.m. drive allowed for an untouched blanket of white to be draped across everything.
I felt slightly intimidated as I parked at the mountain and got out of my car juggling my winter gear. I watched fellow Mainers pile out of their cars, throw their gear over their shoulders, and head straight for the slopes.
Luckily, the SnowSports School was filled with smiling (you could tell from their eyes) employees and instructors genuinely excited to see me take this first step. I didn’t feel silly for not knowing anything, and I suddenly didn’t feel intimidated being such a newbie.
I also was nervous about my interesting personal situation, too… about the fact that I have two vastly different-sized feet.
My left foot is a typical size 8, and my right foot is a smaller size 4. The employees didn’t even question me, got my boots set up, and taught me how to put them on. They even had my ski bindings pre-set for the difference.
My group started off at the base just getting comfortable with being on these new sets of feet and sliding around, sidestepping, learning how to stay balanced and how to stand in one place.
Jefferey was shadowing our main instructor Keith to learn the ropes as an instructor at Sunday River, so my group got a BOGO deal: Two instructors for the price of one. With only four of us in the group, this made it feel like a private lesson with a lot of one-on-one attention.
We ran through all the right drills: How to master the pizza slice brake, stepping up the hill, how to do a duck walk, and how to make turns around their ski poles they shoved into the snow as obstacles, all with the occasional falling on my butt.
Within 30 minutes, I went from slipping around feeling awkward to having a newfound wave of confidence and, in my opinion, kinda freaking killing it.
And when I went on the chairlift the first time, as we crept higher and higher, I just looked around thinking to myself, “I’m skiing. I’m really skiing. I’m on a mountain and I am skiing.”
Keith told me he had “five golden tickets” and it was time for me to learn the first one: The J-Curve. We slowly but surely made our way criss-crossing down the trail one sloppy J-curve at a time until I started to really get the hang of it. Next thing I knew, I was at the base of the trail stopping myself with the pizza slice I had just learned an hour before.
We high fived and my cheeks hurt from smiling. I just officially skied down a trail for the first time in my life. I felt on top of the world.
That one-on-one time with Keith built my confidence in ways I couldn’t believe and allowed us to really focus on what I was doing right and what I needed to work on.
We did another run, I practiced what I had learned from the first round, and I was euphoric.
By the end of the lesson, I had gone from never having even seen a pair of skis in real life to riding down a trail with confidence and a freshly-learned skill.
The lesson was so successful, I even hopped on the chairlift alone after and did a run by myself.
I found myself zooming down the mountain with too much speed that knocked me flat on the ground. My wipeout was so legendary I heard hollering and clapping, squinted my eyes above, and waved at the chairlift riders that were fist-bumping and yelling down at me.
But rather than feel discouraged by the wipeouts, I felt elated. I thought of younger Meghan fueled by so much emotional passion of wanting to hit the slopes and never getting the opportunity until now.
I would tumble down the mountain 500 more times if it meant getting into another pair of skis.
It really is never too late to take on that thing you've always wanted to do but just never had the chance. And you might just wind up kinda freaking killing it.