Schuss Alert

Most of my friends don't know this, but I've been skiing for a few years, mostly at the request of my wife, Lynn, a lifelong skier. There's a great photo of her peering over her father's shoulder in a napsack while he skis. Apparently she was egging him on to go faster. Lynn's a black diamond skier, and she and her skiing family have been very supportive of my efforts to learn. I've gone to ski school on various local trips, and we've been to Taos, Banff, and Whistler.

But I never really got it, and I've only had maybe 15 days on skis in my life, and wasn't sure if I'd get from slog to schuss. My goal wasn't to become a black run skier, but rather to be comfortable on green and reasonable blue so I could enjoy myself. Before this last week, it was fun but really hard work, which limited the time I could spend on skis.

We bought season passes last summer for Summit at Snoqualmie, the local ski area about an hour from Seattle that's the result of several separate resorts being bought out. It's got a lot of variety. Because we bought passes, the snow came late, of course.

Wednesday was my first day out this season and Lynn's fourth. I fumbled around a bit, but did okay. Lots of snow plowing, some turning, maybe 40 minutes before the boots hurt too much and I was just too worn out in the old legs.

We went back on Friday, though, in preparation for a trip in a week to Big Sky, Montana, and I set out and did a couple of very green runs okay, but still a lot of work. We moved up to a bit of a steeper green -- the steepest Lynn said she'd ever seen -- and I found myself stuck. I did some side slips down, but I knew I could just turn and go, but couldn't quite get up the gumption.

Finally, I just turned and -- well, I skied nearly perfectly. I finally put it all together, and remember to weight that darn downhill ski, and made turn after turn that were pretty terrific, and it felt great. Lynn caught up to me quickly when I stopped and said it looked like a time lapse trick effect of someone learning how to ski. My feet felt fine and I had a lot more endurance -- snow plows and stopping take a lot out of you.

I'm still not sure where it all came from, but I did several more runs, each of them just as good. Look, ma, I'm skiing! I'm skiing! We'll head up to Snoqualmie one more time next week at least, and then six days in Big Sky. Yes, photos and short movies to come.