After Monday's theory lesson at the ski club, I was itching to get on my skis and try everything they had talked about. I didn't get the chance until last night, directly after a 14 km run with AIK.
I had asked J to wait for me at the ski stadium at 18.30, but I got there early. As soon as I stopped running, I started freezing (it was -13), so I jogged back and forth on the road along the ski tracks. My fingers were the first to complain, and by the time J got there and I tried to switch from my Kinvara to my ski boots, they were completely useless. It took me five minutes in the car to warm them up enough so that they'd be able to tie a knot.
I warmed up pretty quickly after that, and -despite the earlier run- I had the energy to try the different exercises they had recommended at the ski school: skiing without sticks, skiing with only the sticks (without moving my legs), skiing with only one stick at a time. It was hard work. I must have looked silly, because I hadn't even taken off my reflex vest after the run (too cold) and I'd forgotten I still had my headlamp from the run on my head. I suppose you can never be too careful after dark, not even in a brightly illuminated ski stadium with no cars anywhere near and almost no one else around.
After 5 km of having the ski tracks pretty much to myself, sharing them only with J, I looked at the slope at one end of the stadium. Slopes have become sort of a phobia for me, because I fall down nine times out of ten. So I avoid them, especially if there are people around. But, of course, I am going to inevitably tire of skiing round and round at the ski stadium soon, so if I want to ski at other places, I will have to learn how to not fall. So I started making up my way up the slope.
Parenthesis: I was tired at this point. I was really tired. I was so tired, I had missed the ground earlier and stabbed myself in the foot with the stick. Hilarious.
After climbing all the way up the 100-meter slope, I positioned myself in the tracks on the opposite side and, still feeling brave, got ready to just do it already. The conditions were perfect: the tracks were new and unbroken and there was no one around. But then I saw that there were a couple of kids at the foot of the slope. Granted, they were nowhere near my side of the track, but what if I lost my balance and left the tracks and flew towards them, unable to brake? It was better to wait until they were gone.
|The tracks were much better last night than in this picture|
But no. They were also climbing up the hill, agonisingly slow. And a grown-up was behind them, quickly gaining on them. I would have to wait! I couldn't have people (especially kids) looking at me! The embarrassment would be too great if I fell! Two skiers came from behind me and I had to leave the track to let them pass. They disappeared elegantly down the slope. They didn't fall. Where were all these people coming from? The kids were getting closer, and I was getting colder, standing there like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Minutes passed. My bravery evaporated rapidly, uncertainty and fear seeping into my brain. Now J was up the slope wondering what was taking me so long. "Just do it", he said. Well, see, that doesn't work for me. What I would really need right now would be to remember all those psychology tricks I read about in my Sports Psychology course, which were inconveniently eluding me now when I needed them most. Where was my confidence? Where were my relaxation methods?
The kids caught up. ”Are you going to ski down the slope?”, they asked innocently, the little brown-haired nine-year old
brat girl stressing me out accompanying her five-year old
brother. ”Soon”, I said, infuriated, because these little kids
could definitely see through me and knew I was a coward standing
there in the tracks. ”You go ahead”, said J. And they did. The
five-year old went first, fearlessly, and made it all the way to the
bottom without falling. The nine-year old followed just as
effortlessly. My shame at the prospect of getting bettered by kids forced me to start gliding down the slope, making it past the steepest part.
Just as the ground started evening out, something happened. I say my
skis were faster than the rest of me, making me lose my balance, J
says it looked like I got scared and gave up halfway, but whatever
the reason I sensed how I was leaning backwards more and more until I
was on my butt, creating a snow cloud around me and leaving a nice
butt print on the until-then perfect tracks. Well, that's one way
Needless to say, I was frustrated. I was beaten by some kids. I never wanted to see another slope in my life. I got up and glided away, because chances were I would otherwise take the sticks and break them in two. Shaman smash! Which would have been fine, if they were my sticks. But I had borrowed them from J's sister.
A few minutes later I had calmed down. I will defeat my fears. That's why I'm attending the ski school. I'm a beginner, I'm going to learn, I'm going to get better, I'm going to ski down that slope without falling.