My trip to Holiday Valley last weekend was just what the doctor called for. I got some quality Vitamin D, some exercise, and quality fun time with some of the best people. I had never been to Holiday Valley before; my skiing adventures have been a little backwards. Until last year my skiing career had only consisted of Boston Mills/Brandywine. While both have black diamonds, moguls, and near vertical drops, I knew this wasn’t the pinnacle of winter sports. Finally, last year, after not putting snow pants on in gosh knows how long, I went skiing in Tahoe for New Year’s. I hung in there just fine. A couple months ago I had the best ski day of my life in Vail, CO. All the while never made it out to the two finer ski areas relatively close to Cleveland, Peak’n’Peak and Holiday Valley.
Nick elected to organize a trip to Holiday Valley this year. Everyone knows how exciting and exasperating coordinating these events can be. I can say that this was more successful than herdings cats.We ended up with an eight-person wolf pack and it was a blast. One thing I love about the group of friends that Nick and I have is that it’s usually a crazy modge podge of people who all want to have fun and the amount fun had as a whole is greater than the sum of individual fun levels.
Skiing is a good metaphor for two life lessons for me. The first being, the only way down is ski down the hill. Once you’re off the chairlift (which apparently is an ordeal for me…) the only way “out” is down. You have to just turn your skis down the hill and go. There’s a big element of trusting yourself and what you’ve practiced to instinctually do the right thing. In life, sometimes I have to just put myself on the top of the hill, even if I’m not sure I can do it. I still have moments of doubt about graduate school but I’m already halfway down the hill and the only way out is graduation. Stopping in the middle of the hill is not an option, because then I’m still not in the clear, I’ve just paused. I may not be able to go as fast as everyone, or look as suave doing it, but I’m doing it, maybe at my own pace, maybe stumbling a bit here and there, but I’m making progress. Taking a fall is a reflection of life too. I never really see it coming, I know it’s in the realm of possibility but I don’t prepare myself to fall because then it’s a guarantee. When I fall, it could be easy to get back up, other times I’ve lost a ski halfway up or down the hill, I take the necessary time to put myself back together and try not to get frustrated. Getting frustrated only amplifies and worsens a fall. The worst fall is one where you take someone out too, I try not to do this in life. When you’re skiing, it’s really easy for me to realize if I’ve hurt someone else as a result of my fall, in life, it’s not always as obvious- so I have to always be aware of my surroundings when I fall, figuratively.
The other life lesson of skiing is to know your limits. Yes, I know I just said to just dive in, push your limits, and go at your own pace, but you have to also evaluate the risk of a situation. In Holiday Valley there’s a double black diamond hill called “The Wall”. This may be pretty obvious but “The Wall” is a nearly vertical slope with viscous-looking moguls. I had been whipping down black diamonds all day with no problem and was ready to take on this new challenge. When I saw my better-half almost wipe out the moment he went down, I got nervous, but I went. About an eighth of the way down the hill, I panicked. I sat back and listened to my gut that was saying, “no fricken way.” The sun gleamed all down the hill, reflecting how incredibly icey it was. I wasn’t wearing my helmet and thought, I really don’t want a concussion today. Then, swallowing my pride, I inched back up to the top of the hill and opted for safer way to the bottom. Any cowardice I was feeling was overcome by the feeling of relief from not putting myself through the stress of trying to get down “The Wall”. While I’m a proponent of pushing myself and getting outside of my comfort zone, I must remember to be safe about it as well.
Who know skiing could be so philosophical?
On Saturday night we all went out on the town for Holiday Valley’s Mardi Gras. It was a good St. Patrick’s Day training session. For having a group of eight, I think we navigated the scene well. The town of Ellicottville is really quaint and the bar scene reminded me of Marietta’s.
P.S. Some (most) of the photos have been borrowed from Bobby!
Where do you go for winter fun? Do you ever bite off more than you can chew?