Slalom Ski: Trial 1

We stood on the dock, while my oldest son shot shaving cream into the boots of the skis and used his own strength to push my feet into the boots. Then, I stood on the dock and I cried. My legs felt as if they were in traction — I could not walk. Again, the fear of being pulled behind a boat gripped me, my stomach, and all I could do was cry.

But, I asked for this. I asked for a chance to slalom ski (on one ski)– just because everyone else is doing it — very well.

Last summer, I learned to ski on two skis. Now, I want to do it on one , just because my husband says I don’t have to go 32 mph, I can go 20. Hopefully, that won’t feel too fast. I don’t want to be an awesome skier – I’m not interested in cruising behind a boat soaring at 32 mph, while I make cuts back and forth in the wake as the water sprays over my head — like my friends up here. I just want to know that I can ski, just like everyone else.

I don’t want to say, “I’m too old to learn,” even though, maybe I am. I just don’t want to think that way.

This summer, I’m putting an end to that; I will try every day that I have a driver and a lightning-free lake, with the hope that maybe by the end of the summer, I will get up — just for a bit. A bottle of champagne is waiting in the fridge for that day.

I wiped my tears, and just then my friend — an awesome skier, my neighbor, came down to help. I sent my son for her… there were just too many guys around, and I needed sisterly support — also someone who knew how to ski. (Plus, she calls me kiddo, even though we’re close to the same age.) I’m so grateful for her presence– she was busy mowing the lawn when we captured her.

She helped me into the water, and for some reason, being in the water seemed to calm me down. Let’s see if I can remember her advice:

  • Ski tips up… my ski says HO right at the tip — “Keep your HO UP!”
  • Knees pulled into the chest
  • Rope to the right of the ski (my left foot forward)
  • Push… push… push with your legs.


Day 1 Result:
I pulled, pulled, pulled with my arms. I felt nothing in my legs. I fell face forward and swallowed water every single time.

My husband said, “I know you know how to push… you did it four times!” No, that’s only two times, remember? I had a c-section twice. My friend answered, “Different muscles… trust me, entirely different muscles.”

These muscle cues are important.. they are windows into mistakes, and help me make corrections.

I panicked every time I thought about myself standing up, and not knowing what to do when the waves came in.

I’m Chickin!!!

Maybe my legs just don’t have the strength? She said, “I know you have the strength… if you can walk, you have the strength.”

I tried 6 times.
If there’s any light, she said she was pleased with the way I kept my tips up. We will be bonded for life if she gets me up this summer.

Probably, this has more to do with mind over matter than muscles. Until I can visualize myself skiing without panic, I probably won’t get up. These practice sessions are breaking down the barriers of fear, bit by bit.

Immediately afterwards, I felt sore under my forearm, right out from the fourth finger. No pain in the legs, where I was supposed to be pushing.

Within an hour, I felt sore in my hips and my shoulders — and my butt.

Still, I can’t help but wish I had 20 summers ahead of me to learn to ski, and 20 summers more of youth.

P.S. Now, as I’m writing this, I’m feeling some burning in my inner thighs. I guess I was using my legs more than I realized. Someday, I’ll get up — even if it takes me all summer.


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16 comments to “Slalom Ski: Trial 1”
  1. Way to go! When you do get up, and you will, try not to celebrate too much. That was always my downfall. Literally. Just try and be blase about your major accomplishment and celebrate on land.

  2. If you can get up on two skis you can get up on one…it’s the same principle! Perhaps go back to two skis for a few goes before you try the one again.
    Me, I never ‘got’ water skiing. I love snow skiing and being towed behind a boat was just boring after a while. Mind you I never did any of that cutting across the wake thing, I didn’t have time on the occasions I went (twice). There were always other people wanting a go. I’ll be watching with interest.

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  8. Here’s the things I think about, make sure your ski is at a 45 degree angle to the boat not 90 straight up in the water. Make sure your left knee is closer to your chest than your right. Watch the boat (not the ski), keep your core strong and lean back with your shoulders strong. Good luck and good for you for going for it!

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