Skiing — It’s Like Downhill Ice Skating, Right?


By Michelle Garcia

My first time on skis? On the French Alps.

My fellow newbie skiers, with Sebastien at the head of the pack, headed over to the gondola to take us to the top of the mountain. As we ascended thousands of feet, I saw ski and snowboard tracks on every available inch of mountain. Not just on the marked trails, but between trees, and on faces of the mountain that seemed to be purely vertical. I could already sense my Olympic dreams careening like an avalanche.

When we got to the ski station, I duck walked my way over to a pole lift, where someone had warned that she had once fell off of one. I was pretty confident, however, that I have pretty good balance, and I had yet to fall, even at the baby garden. When it was my turn, I whipped that pole between my legs and flew up even higher. When I got to the top, I fairly gracefully landed at the launch point for the course, which I noticed had those blue and red slalom flags.

"Go left around the blue ones, and right around the red ones," Sebastien said, as though he was telling me to do something simpler like write a symphony or cure cancer.

I made the first few turns, but as I started to gain speed, my body began freaking out. I suddenly couldn’t remember how to slow down, or stop, or how to keep control. So I just dove down into a snow bank to my right to stop myself, instead of flying off the left side of the course as I had feared. Then I was stuck trying to figure out the most important part about falling — getting back up. I almost hoped someone was filming me trying to stand back up with skis on, because it would be YouTube gold. I was laughing so hard at myself that Sebastien, who has the patience of a zen monk, thought I was crying. He helped me stand up, and I finished the course with the speed of a turtle that was missing an arm. On top of that, I was so warm, my hair had stuck to my face like Little Richard had sweat out his Jheri Curl.

After a few more runs, I fell a couple more times, but it didn’t really hurt, as I anticipated. In fact, laying in the snow was sort of enjoyable, since I was boiling through all of my clothes, and (bonus) I had figured out how to get back up without Sebastien pulling me up like a loose sack of skin with no feet. By the end of the ski lesson, Sebastien said I was ready for a slightly more difficult slalom slope. It was faster, and snowboarders were zipping down as though this were the X-Games.

I cautiously inched down, zipping left and right, apologizing to anyone who passed me for possibly being in their way. But I made it down to the bottom without falling. I earned the cocktail waiting for me in the lodge down below.


MICHELLE GARCIA is the managing editor of She definitely wants to ski again. Follow her on Twitter @MzMichGarcia.

Tags: Ski, France