Weber’s Ski School

The sky spat a little piddly bit of snow at us here on The Planet today but it was mostly gray and penetratingly cold and my brain was pretty numb, so we just spazzed around with Pooh and The Marquis all day.

What I used to do for the first five days after Christmas was go to ski school. Ski school was a volunteer endeavor to get the kids of Sault Ste. Siberia skiing. It was held at Mission Hill, a ski area just off Lake Superior, a few miles west of the Iroquois Light. We had a morning of class, then terrorized the ski hill all afternoon. We were in classes of about 20 or so: B-9, I-13, etc. “B” was beginner and “I” was intermediate and the number was our approximate age. I got my first skis when I was about 10, so I guess I would’ve been in B-10 to start out.

Our instructors would line us up on our assigned area of the bunny hill and we would slowly sidestep up the hill until it was our turn to ski down to the bottom. We learned how to snowplow to a stop, then progressed to snowplow turns. The intermediate kids did the stem christie and eventually the much coveted parallel turns. Once, to my extreme mortification, the TV 9&10 news team caught me on camera in mid-fall and broadcast it *twice*.

After a few years of progress through the beginner and intermediate classes, I was about 14 and decided I was too old for ski school that year. The Commander had a different idea. “If you are too old for class, you are going to *teach* this year.” My friend Helen and I were assigned to teach B-8. Those kids were learning skills at about a level that matched our competence for teaching. I think I learned as much about ski, boot, and mitten adjustment as they did about skiing.

I was a mediocre but very enthusiastic downhill skier. Christmas holidays and weekends we nagged our parents incessantly to drive us out to Mission Hill. Weeknight evenings, we schlepped our ski equipment up the escarpment to the Minneapolis Woods rope tow. Whenever we could manage it, we engineered special expotitions to Searchmont, Ontario or Boyne and Nubs Nob down in the northern lower peninsula.

When I got into my twenties, I got my first pair of cross-country skis and eventually migrated completely from downhill to cross-country. It’s cheaper and more accessible. I almost want to say it’s better exercise but I think that’s arguable. We used to be pretty darn tired after a long day of vigorous downhill skiing.

I love cross-country skiing and it isn’t without hills to negotiate. But every once in a while, when I see a chair-lift or watch the Olympics or whatever, I think about the days when we used to careen (or is it career?) wildly and clumsily down the hill, narrowly missing trees and cliffs and other people and whatever. And then there were those rare times when I had a perfect run, carving every turn like an expert and swishing to a spectacular parallel stop at the bottom.

Comments are closed.