It's no secret that I ski during the wintertime. I've mentioned it often enough.
But from time to time, I get funny reactions from people who seem to be convinced that I'm an accident waiting to happen.
Now, I could understand that if I were jumping out of a perfectly good plane with a parachute.
But we're talking about a sport, a past-time where there have been dramatic improvements in materials, safety features, trail markings, snow manufacturing and slope grooming over the decades.
Still, the stereotype of sweater-ed co-eds sitting around the lodge fireplace with a cast on one foot is hard to shake. The majority of people who ski never see an injury, and ski within their abilities.
This came up on my most recent (and only) trip this year... as a superior skier asked me where I had been all day, since they didn't see me out on the slopes.
I replied that I had had a great day, keeping on the more gentle "green" coded slopes, and occasionally pushing a little more into the blue slopes. I had been careful not to over-assume what I could do, as it was the first day I had been on any slope in about a year, and I was rusty and quickly finding those unused muscles once again. A bit of warm up exercising would certainly have helped me prepare.
I took frequent breaks, resting on the ski lifts and sitting with my feet up when eating in the cafeteria.
My friend was a black diamond skier, pushing the envelope and himself on the steepest slopes, and resting in the pub. So our paths simply didn't cross that day.
But there's no question that I had enjoyed myself. I never fell, never strained anything, and quit when I felt myself getting tired in the afternoon. So, I played it safe.
Now, some people claim that skiing is an expensive sport, and that only the rich can afford it. I'm living proof that this is not true.
I have found bargains, used equipment, and package deals that allow my family and myself to experience a couple of ski trips per season without breaking the bank or blowing the budget.
And for those who would like to try this winter sport, there are rental shops and package deals available at every ski resort. The variety in West Virginia can certainly cater to any skill level and budget. And there are day trips available to nearby states too!
In my case, I've been shopping for deals, bargain used equipment and inexpensive housing for years... and so, over time, I have collected enough gear to make an enjoyable outing without having to spend any more than necessary. (Just transportation, lift ticket and meals.)
It's true that some people go for the fashion, for the companionship, for the drinks in the pub or just to get out of town. And, I'm not knocking any of that social function. I've met some great friends through the Ohio Valley Ski Club and Skier's Edge Sports Loft!
All I'm saying is that we shouldn't be put off by the expense of the sport. There are ways to enter the field at a bargain rate, and to learn to enjoy the winter season.
Another great way to learn to ski, is to go on a bus trip, with a church group, scouting group or similar organized outing. This type of one or two day expedition goes on all the time. If you need help finding such a group, try your local ski shop, 'cause they typically hear of all kinds of trips and can advise you on the right set of gear for your skill level.
See you on the slopes?