It has been long since the last blog but it’s worth the wait, as I had one of my best days in my life at Greek peak mountain resort near Ithaca. Little did I know that Skiing would become the sport I enjoy the most. Owing to the winter, I have been indulged in sports related to ice since the past few days: Ice Skating, Ice Hockey and Skiing. I wanted to make the most of this harsh winter and was thus waiting for an opportunity to go Skiing.
Greek Peak is the only best option since it’s located at a distance of 23 miles in North-East of Ithaca. Cornell’s International student organization (ISSO) comes up with trips like this over the year. They announced about the Skiing lessons trip for which I had no second thoughts about enrolling in. Since the roads were slippery and dangerous I did not want to rent out a car and drive, so ISSO’s trip came at the right time. Finally, from my group of friends, only Akhil(my classmate at Cornell) and I were confirmed our spots for skiing lessons. Akhil had mistakenly enrolled for Snowboarding which was a lot tougher.
On Feb 22, Sunday at 8.50am we left for Greek Peak from Collegetown in a decent Swarthout bus. The view of white layer on almost everything around looked serene and made up for the rear seats (near the restroom) in the bus. We spotted the shaved mountains with chair lifts and I was excited to try Skiing for the first time. At the rental equipment center, I rented a jumbo locker, shoes(which took me 3 tries to get the right one), Ski, Ski Poles, helmet and went out to the mountains. The shoes were like the ones Iron man wears, bulky and very tough to walk but provided amazing safety.
We were told that Skiing lessons would start at 12 PM which gave us around 1.5 hours of free time to try stuff by ourselves. According to people, it was perfect weather for skiing: temperature in +ve Fahrenheit and a bright day. There were many slopes on the hill ranging from beginner to expert mode and they had chair lifts to take them to take to the appropriate locations. I got on the skis and looking around and eavesdropping for guidance I managed to ski for a certain distance. However, it was tough to climb up the short slope again and again. I felt it impossible to get up from a fall without taking off the skis or a helping hand. After a few attempts at skiing, I proceeded to try a simple track called Boardwalk which was pretty steep for a beginner. It had an escalator kind of set up which took us till the top of the slope. Taking a leap of faith I started downhill. Unfortunately for me, a guy had fallen on the track and as I did not know how to make a turn yet, I went and rammed into him. In the following attempt I fell again as I couldn’t stop at the bottom of the slope.
Till the instruction began, I just kept trying by myself. The gloves I took were not waterproof, so every-time I fell, I almost smeared the whole gloves with ice which wet it again and again. Soon the cold bit my fingers and I had a very difficult time with my cold fingers the whole day. Skiing lessons started around 12 PM, and our instructor Dave, taught us very basic things – posture, techniques to get on the skis and to ski, turn and stop(wedge). We then went to a slope which was simpler than the Boardwalk. My trials at skiing were relatively successful here, as I managed to make S-turns while skiing downhill. Along with another person of the team, I was selected to try the Alpha slope, where I enjoyed the most.
The chair lift to the top of Alpha slope did not work as I had expected. The lift is in constant rotation to increase the throughput. So people had to actually get on and off the slow moving chair lift. Sitting on the chair lift watching others ski and snowboard was an experience in itself. However I really had a hard time getting out of the moving chair lift on skis. It took around 4 tries to perfect the alight without a fall. Once we reached on top of the slope, Dave instructed us to go for S turns if we thought we were picking up too much speed.
I understood the importance of his advice only while the skiing down the slope. Taking his advice I started with S turns and managed to reach half way without a fall. Then I lost control as the slope was too steep. I guess I fell because I brought my skis closer maybe in the effort for turning. The fact that falling on ice doesn’t hurt much was enough to keep me trying. Making a right turn was almost natural but I had difficulty while turning left. I tried again and this time I managed to come down the slope without a fall. The feeling of gliding rapidly on the slope is just fantastic. One has to keep his body balanced, and his speed in check. The experience was thrilling, and skiing on the slopes a number of times was the part of the day i cherished the most.
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It soon neared 4 PM. We returned the equipment after a quick photo session. After my experience with the heavy ski shoes, my huge Quechua trekking shoes felt light like slippers. It was a beautiful experience seeing kids skiing confidently, and even the handicapped people having their share of joy. At the end of my experience, the only part that hurt was my wrist. We left Greek Peak with a hearty smile and a healthy body. It was the best experience I have had since I arrived in US. Oh wait, my day hasn’t ended yet. I still have my Salsa classes to look up to in the evening.
Anyways, here are the few tips I found/learned to be helpful for beginners:
- Carry waterproof gloves.
- Take lessons from an experienced skier initially to get your techniques right.
- Layer up, keep yourself protected from cold. Although you are in constant action you will feel cold.
- I felt that making the turns was easier than to wedge while coming to a stop. So choose whichever comfortable.