After 25 or more years, I finally tried skiing again. I tried snowboarding last year, was really impressed with the high quality of instruction at the Breckenridge Ski and Ride School, so decided to go that route and try skiing again. Tuesday morning I picked up my rental gear and headed over to the mountain. I went with the basic ski gear, to try out and also have something to compare to later in the week — the Dalbello (not sure of the model) boots were comfortable (though not perfect) and the Rossignol skis (I think they were the Experience 88s) adequate but perhaps too long at 165 cms.
I decided to start from ground zero, not sure if any muscle memory had been retained from so many years ago. As our instructor said, “Skiing is easy to learn, difficult to master,” with snowboarding being the reverse. I figured I could always move up if I had Ted Ligety-like skills right off the bat (didn’t happen). Unusually, we had 8 students and 2 instructors, unusual in that it’s usually a single instructor. The group was mostly homogeneous in ability, though 3 did struggle a bit as the day went on.
My instructor Dave was from Australia, complete with appealing accent and typical Aussie mellowness. He was incredibly thorough (clearly loved to talk), was very supportive, and moved us along rapidly as the day progressed.
The first bit was all about the gear, including how to put things on correctly — seemingly simple, the ski boots are a big fit problem for most, including me. Definitely small things make a big difference, but the quest for next year will be to find boots that fit really well or maybe go the custom route, should funds be available.
The morning was a progression from bunny slope with magic carpet lift to snowplows to control speed and stop on the Camelback Platter. I really dislike surface lifts, too many things to think about and control on the way up. The class progression was so good, that our instructor told us we had completed what was a typical full day of beginner instruction by lunch, so a trip up the mountain after lunch awaited us.
After lunch, 2 of our group opted out, citing fatigue, so we were down to 6 and 2 instructors, further increasing the chances we’d lose one. We got into our skis and headed over to the Quicksilver Super 6, our first chairlift — even though it might be scary to get on and off for some, at least the middle portion is all about relaxing and enjoying the view.
After the first run went smoothly, I decided to push myself a bit, and started working on parallel ski turns rather than the wedges. The muscle memory was there and definitely a lot easier than snowplowing, which is really tiring. Felt good and was confident that skiing with the rest of the family was a possibility.
Wednesday I took the day off and met Mike with Laima, then wandered around town to do some shopping and sightseeing. Laima finally got to ski that afternoon.
Thursday morning, Tazer and Gaigai took me up-mountain, which was exciting and scary, as their abilities are far beyond mine. I moved up a level in terms of rental packages, skiing a Nordica Cruise 70 boot and K2 A.M.P. Skis (not sure which model), much more comfortable at 160 cms. I wasn’t that happy with the Nordicas, but with adjustments throughout the day they seemed okay.
By the end of the morning however, the soles of my feet ached and my lower legs were generally unhappy. Warming up on the Peak 9 green runs gave me confidence to move up to the blues. Gaigai and I skied very similarly in terms of speed, though I’d love to have her grace and consistency. Tazer shot off ahead and waited for us as needed. It was fun to spend the morning with them, but I was happy to hand them off to Laima for the afternoon — I was tuckered!
Friday was a day to spend as a family — we dropped The Little Worker at the child care facility there and hoped he’d try skiing as well, but no luck there, maybe next year. I kept the K2 skis from Thursday, but went back to Dalbello boots, much more comfy — the ski tech looked at my Nordica boots and told me they were probably 3 sizes too big, which would explain why they didn’t work that well. I went back to the Dalbellos in the correct size and was much happier.
Laima’s brother and sister joined us for the morning, but were excited to try their hands at the more challenging terrain in the afternoon. They took Tazer and headed up the T-Bar lift to try some double-black diamonds — he did great. We skied to Munchkin’s ability, which was easy blues or greens, fun for me, but more work for Laima, who guided him down the steeper parts. We started on Peak 9, but spent the afternoon on Peaks 7 and 8 before heading back to the condo.
Breckenridge is awesome in so many ways, not least the huge amount of varied terrain. There is also a lot of emphasis on skier safety and responsibility. I also really liked that many of the intermediate runs had expert runs alongside, allowing us to separate and reconvene multiple times down the mountain.
It’s also a lot of fun to move from peak to peak, and next year Breckenridge is opening Peak 6 for even more options. In the meantime, I’m hoping to find some inexpensive but useful skis and boots, so we can get some Midwest skiing done before we go back. We had so much fun that the kids are already planning a longer trip next year, which would be a lot of fun.