Snarky newcomer opines, basely

Participation trophy 

Posted 1/24/24

We weren’t going to bother using the free “Ski at Elk Mountain” PBS donation gift, because I had assumed Elk Mountain was a couple of hours away, like Shawnee or Camelback. I …

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Snarky newcomer opines, basely

Participation trophy 


We weren’t going to bother using the free “Ski at Elk Mountain” PBS donation gift, because I had assumed Elk Mountain was a couple of hours away, like Shawnee or Camelback. I hadn’t been impressed enough with skiing in the Poconos when my in-laws took us 45 years ago, to want to bother driving there and back today. I grew up skiing in the midwest, where they try to make ski mountains out of molehills, but at least it is cold enough that the snow stays snowy, instead of melting and then refreeezing into unnatural configuration of crystals which managed to be very hard, very slippery and very, very wet. 

It has been 50 years since I won Best Girl Skier (yes, I still have the plaque) at Maine Township North High School. 

Maine North doesn’t exist any more. A decade after I graduated, John Hughes used the Brutalist building as a set for a couple of his teen movies. The actors who were young enough then to play high school students are now answers in trivia games about ”classic” movies. 

Wikipedia reports that after its movie career, the school acted as a mortuary college. From “Home of the Vikings!” to “House of the Dead.” 

It’s currently the headquarters for both the Illinois State Lottery and the Illinois State Police. 

I’ve been through changes as well, like growing up and having to pay my own way, which was the end of my skiing. 

All of which should have alerted me that I no longer have the body that beat out Corrine S. for the award, although she was a much better athlete, in addition to being a cheerleader and homecoming court princess and all-around really nice person. But I had skied since I was four, and she was just learning. Sorry, Corrine S. 

Then I learned Elk Mountain was barely a 40-minute drive just down the road and I couldn’t resist. I really, really loved to ski. Did I say to myself, hey, we haven’t skied in about half a century? Maybe go slow? Take a lesson? Oh, heck, no. We signed up for the free ski. 

On the appointed day we drove a few miles and the mountain loomed into view ahead, my heart so jumping with excitement it barely stayed within my rib cage. 

On the bunny slope, spattered as it was with snowboarders on their backs taking in the lovely view of the sky, I impressed myself with my ability to remember how to ski.

After two more runs I was bored with the bunny hill and ready to tackle the easy slopes going down the whole mountain. 

Shortly after my third or fourth very slow, very wide, very timid turn from the top, I fell. My husband Mark was ahead of me, busy trying to not die on this, maybe his 10th time skiing. He hadn’t noticed. 

But falling just means you’re trying. Or so Dad used to yell from the top of the hill as my sisters and I skied down. Along with “Bend zee knees!” all in an Austrian accent which didn’t fit with his Detroit upbringing, but is how it sounds in my head 60 years later.

 And I couldn’t get up. 

I maneuvered my skis perpendicular to the downward slope. Scrunched over to the edge of the run so I wouldn’t be in the way of the young snowboarders, some of whom yelled HAHAHA at me, the sweet things, and tried to push myself up. First with my hand and then with the ski pole. And I couldn’t. 

OK, maybe the other side. On my butt, I turned and swung my skis into the opposite direction, so I was now lying on my left. I couldn’t push up from that side, either. 

Eventually, probably five minutes later, I gave up trying to get up from that position, unfastened my skis, stood up and put the skis back on. And continued skiing. Took maybe two turns. And fell. And couldn’t get up.

Again and again and again. Until I couldn’t even get the skis back on because I was shaking too hard, and ended up carrying the skis on my shoulder and half slipping, half walking, down the side of the run. 

Me sprawled in the snow was not a “How have the mighty fallen!” scene, but the late night TV ad, old lady bleating ”I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” 

I’d have had better luck doing like my old school and playing the lottery. It’s public television’s fault, of course. Those commies.

elk mountain, skiing, snarky newcomer opines basely


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