Sandra Tsing Loh goes skiing... kind of.
Over Christmas, for the first time in more than 40 years, I skied—or at least, gradually fell down a hill. We think it’s snow sports can be bad in Russia, which is so unregulated people do things like zorbing—rolling in a ball down a hill—with disastrous results.
But me on skis is not great either. Instead of a skill level of five or four, I’m like a minus ten, meaning I need a team of sherpas not just to carry me up the hill, but to push me out of the way of actual skiers.
Even getting to the bottom of the bunny slope seemed impossible. How do you walk up hill in skis? I kept sliding backwards and careening into other people, including some five year olds. Fortunately all five year olds are excellent skiers—a Lilliputian team of them helpfully pushed me towards the rope tow.
The attendant handed the rope to me. I grabbed it, but it jerked forward with surprising strength and I was now being dragged face down, spread eagled, over the snow. It’s amazing how many things can go wrong so quickly. Later, I do a face-splat off a chair lift—They actually have to stop the machine for five minutes—I am a pox on Vermont!
Three months later, I’m at an aerospace conference in Big Sky, Montana. The conference is great, the people interesting, the food fantastic. The breakfast buffet has a make your own omelet station AND pancakes, sausage, bacon, and farm potatoes, PLUS chicken fried steak, biscuits, and white gravy.
Unfortunately, the dining room has giant views of the ski slopes with people shussing down them, a constant reminder that this 1000-calorie breakfast is meant to be sport fuel.
Stuffed full of chicken fried steak and gravy, I decide on the third day that I will at least try snow-shoeing. Slogging through snow in shoes that look like tennis rackets is not at all dangerous. Nor, sadly, is it very much fun. It’s hard to walk on tennis rackets. It only makes sense if you’re a postal carrier delivering the mail by foot to Bozeman.
Meanwhile, all around me people were blissfully skiing! Shuss, shuss, shuss!
How hard can that be?
Back on skis, I realize that not breathing and panicking and holding my body as rigid as possible is not how anyone else is skiing. I accept the fact that if gravity is pulling my body downward, and unlike the Denzel Washington movie "Flight," this is what is supposed to be happening. Skiing is falling!
So, for an hour I stayed on those skis, pretty much. I consider I’ve gotten my exercise for the whole year! Any excuse for more chicken fried steak.