I’m 82 in Ski Years

Skiing is one of those sports that seems like a great idea as a family pursuit in the long run, but requires a good amount of gear, expense, organization and whining management skills upfront.

This past weekend, we packed up the kids, 5.6 million metric tons of stuff, and off we went. We had originally planned this trip for the long Presidents’ Day weekend but the temperatures in the Northeast at that time were in the I-don’t-fucking-think-so range (around -25, give or take a frostbitten, amputated extremity). So we held out for early March and hoped for more survivable conditions.

I had a plan for this trip. And, like most of the scant plans in my life, whether or not it was going to work or fail was an utter crapshoot.

The mission was two-fold:

1) Get my older two kids skiing. Legitimately skiing. They have taken periodic lessons here and there, but never with enough frequency or intensity to make any real progress past the magic carpet or carving out the largest pizza pie that their little legs could handle without snapping off. The mountain we were visiting this past weekend was billed as extremely family-friendly, with a big focus on the kids. And so, I signed them up for two straight days of ski school, at six hours per day. For those of you keeping track at home and using Common Core Math, that is the equivalent of 39.2447 daily complaints about boot discomfort, a layer of clothing being bothersome or general discontent. Per kid.

2) Get my ski legs back under me. I grew up skiing and continued into my mid-20s. I was never an expert but could hold my own on most trails. I stopped after a crazy mishap with a tight rental boot landed me a blood clot back in 2003, and then I eventually had kids and just never picked it back up. Thirteen years went by until January of this year, when I finally got back to it, with a clear goal: just survive (aiming high, as always). Now I wanted to see if I could actually get some decent form back. In addition to my body cooperating with this mission, it was also contingent on the two year-old agreeing to hang out in the mountain’s day care center for a few hours.

Let’s just say that the odds were stacked against me on both fronts.

Then, for reasons I can’t explain and that probably fall in the supernatural realm, the tide started to turn in my favor. The late winter weather was gorgeous – nobody was going to perish from exposure. We got the older two kids layered up and into their ski boots with minimal complaints. The toddler offered only a minor protest at the notion of the day care, easily solved by a “Paw Patrol” episode.

And so, it was 9:36am on Friday and we had managed to get all three kids settled into their respective settings that did not involve us supervising them in any capacity. We looked around as if incredulous or clearly the victims of a reality show prank, and then sealed the deal with a high five, as only the over-40 dork set does.

If I’m being honest, the first thing that crossed my mind after this miraculous drop-off trifecta was to just go back to the room and take a nap. Simply because I could. Quickly reminded by both my husband and my unflattering ski pants of the real reason we were there, I soldiered on and made my way over to the chair lift.

When we reached the top and approached the trail map, my eyes went directly to any and all green on the map. I wanted the easiest way down. In fact, I followed signage that actually said “Easiest way down the mountain.”

No matter, I thought. It was our first run.

But, no. The green trails and I were as thick as thieves. Could I do the blue ones? Yes. Did I? Some. But I quickly realized that I am now the spry old age of 82 in Ski Years. My style can best be described as tentative and generally paranoid. My mission? Do not get hurt, do not get hurt, do not get hurt, which I chanted in my head at regular intervals down the hill.

I wanted the least amount of ice, the gentlest slope and as few tween snowboarding daredevils as possible within a 12 mile radius. I had become the skiing equivalent of “Get off my lawn,” as I scowled at any whippersnappers under the age of 20 who flew by and put my life and limb in danger.

Now, the problem with my newfound geriatric approach is that I had skied with my husband back when I was in my 20s and we were dating. At that time, I was probably trying to impress him, or just generally didn’t give a shit about my well being or how a body cast would impede me from driving a minivan. He remembers these days fondly and suggested a few “easy” black diamond trails that he felt I could still handle. It didn’t help that, in the ongoing and great injustice of being married to him, he is able to pick up any activity he hasn’t done in years and just excel at it. Sonofabitch. So he was all swish, swish, swish and I was talking to myself as I tried to maintain both general control and all of my limbs.

I did get my ski legs back over the course of the weekend and managed to do a pretty good job for a 40-something mom who was way out of practice. But my approach is just different now. I’m all senior citizen, all the time. If AARP is looking for a sponsorship opportunity on my helmet, they should totally call me. I don’t want the stress or the speed or the jumps. I want to cruise down the pretty little slopes and not worry about bodily harm. And I want a spot on the Olympic Apres Ski Team.

apres ski

Oh, and I want ski pants that make my ass look better. Even if I’m 82.

{And how has nobody improved the ski boot experience? We can put a man on the moon and cure horrible diseases, and yet we still require footwear for this sport that distinctly resembles a medieval torture device. Can someone get on this, please?}

Back at the day care, the toddler hung tight and probably binge-watched all three seasons of “Paw Patrol” in our absence. But that’s OK. His vision is slowly coming back into focus now that we’ve been home for a few days.

And finally, circling back to the first part of my mission, here’s how it went at the kids’ lessons while we seriously upped our apres ski game (because it’s important to condition and build endurance over time): They had graduated from the magic carpet to the chair lift, which seemed unfathomable to me. And the next day, from the novice lift to the big one that goes to the summit. Basically, by the end of the weekend, they were skiing the same runs as their 82 year-old mother.

ski kids

Now that I’m back home – operating the minivan without any detectable fractures and wearing sensible shoes that don’t make me want to cry – I’m glad we went. I’m excited that 4/5 of us can enjoy skiing together. And I’m 100% sure that I’ll be the slowest one in the group from now on.



Speaking of mountains and general outdoorsy-ness, just a quick footnote to follow up on my last post about the NJ vs Colorado Pressure Cooker Decision Weekend. Even though we loved Colorado and we live in a state that has birthed a million punch lines, we’re staying put. 




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  1. i’m right there with you on the greens…all the way. But it’s ok – I just keep telling people how I “raced” in college:) I even wear my ski team sweatshirt when I’m feeling particularly geriatric.

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