I Can Ski Clearly Now
Updated: Apr 3, 2019
For more than 50 years, I have been a good skier—no Lindsay Vaughn (although I have had injuries}—but good enough to take on just about any hill except a bumpy double black diamond.
Last year when we went on our annual family trip to Steamboat, Colorado, however, I felt tentative. Not surprising given my lack of confidence, I took two scary falls, one on a steep, flat face where getting up was nearly impossible but for the help of a fellow skier’s shoulder to lean on. So last month, when my husband, daughter, grandchildren and I headed west, I thought my skiing days might be behind me. No sense in getting hurt…better to quit by choice instead of because a knee injury, I told myself. And although there’s nothing better on a sunny early spring day than skiing down the mountain from the top of the gondola, there are plenty of other fun activities to pursue.
There’s dining and shopping in Steamboat Springs, an authentic western town not even a mile from the ski resort. Our go-to casual restaurant is Salt & Lime, with great Mexican/Southwestern fare. Our favorite store is the iconic F.M. Light & Sons with its array of cowboy boots, hats and Levis. Years ago, that's where I bought my jackalope, a mythical antlered rabbit now mounted in my breakfast room. Guests sometimes think is a real species.
Outside the store are a life-size bronze horse where kids (and sometimes adults) pose for pictures. There‘s also statue of Benjamin Franklin, who begs for ladies to cuddle up with him as they supposedly did in real life.
You can also soak in the natural outdoor hot springs, try snowmobiling and tubing or go fly fishing in the Yampa River or one of the many other local steams. Not the active type? Visit one of the many galleries that specialize in western and Native American art and then finish up the day with an lazy happy hour on one of the outdoor decks in Gondola Square while listening to a band and awaiting fireworks at dusk.
All well and good, but by day three, I had had it with watching the rest of the gang head out for the slopes. So, I took to the mountain with my daughter as my guide, tentative at first but quickly gaining confidence. I found my ski legs; my rhythm was good; I was loving it. “You look great,” several people in our group said. (I wish they had taken a video, in case this year really was my last time on the slopes).
What made the difference? I couldn’t figure it out at first, and then I realized: I could see. Last November, I had the vision in my left eye corrected because I was having trouble reading street signs while driving. I had never considered that my eyesight might also affect my skiing, but a clear view made all the difference. I could once again look down the hill, anticipate what lay ahead and plot my course. So, I enjoyed two great days with my daughter and grandsons, feeling (almost) like the teenager who once showed off at Western Pennsylvania’s tiny Laurel Mountain Ski Area wearing leather boots with laces and wooden skis with cable bindings.
There aren’t many activities three generations can share with equal passion. I was lucky to have that chance, and at the end of the last day, I said a skier’s silent prayer of thanks that we all had made it through the week safely.