Winter 2015 Ski Report -- It's a Wrap!

We still have an 8-foot snow bank next to our steps on the north side of our house.  With the melting, raining, warming, then freezing, it is more aptly termed an ice bank.  A land glacier. On the inside of our Massachusetts house, the hallway is still lined with heavy duty winter equipment.  Hard plastic ski boots.  Hard plastic ski helmets.  Wool socks.  Over-sized ski bags.  Given the amount of snow still on the ground, I don’t have the heart to pack it all away, but I’m 90% sure the Malcolms are done with ski season.  This is my official Winter 2015 Ski Report.

The first ski attempt for Liam ended in tears before he even got on the slopes.  We were coaxing him to put his feet into his ski boots – the ones he wore last year.  We rented boots and skis that weekend after that torturous experience.  If I knew he wore bigger shoes than last year, why didn’t I assume he would need bigger ski boots??  I don’t know.  Perhaps because the ski boots look three times bigger than our feet.

Trading in the ski boots and skis from last year, Liam and I made a new friend in the young owner of the nearby ski shop.  I was set on buying used equipment.  I don’t mind if the skis are purple and the boots are orange.  With growing feet, we will get by year-to-year with mish mash.  “Look at these, Liam,” the shop owner was holding a pair of green and blue skis.  I noticed they matched Liam’s coat.  “Both ends are tipped, so you can practice your tricks going backwards down the mountain!”  Liam’s eyes reflected the sparkle in this young mountain man’s eyes.  My Iowa eyes went stoic and my Iowa lips pulled into a thin line as my flatland heart skipped a beat.

Liam proved they worked while he and I were on a run together.  “Look, Mom!” that sparkle was in his eyes, smile, and backward-facing skis pointed downhill.  Fine.  That’s fine because there is a ski patrol on this mountain.  Then, waiting in line for a chairlift, Liam’s face tilted up to mine.  “That was a sick ride, wasn’t it, Mom?”  Simultaneous thoughts: Liam is talking like a 14-year-old but he’s only the height of a 9-year-old & how do you spell that kind of “sick”?  On the way up the mountain, Liam clarified that it was most likely spelled “sik.” Here's a little skiing clip of my skiing grammarian beast.  Note the nice cross-mountain traverses until he's away from me... then his skis point straight down the mountain.

We skied at Smuggler’s Notch over winter break.  Will is in the highest level ski class, and there were only two or three kids in his class each day.  And they all wanted to ski the same place: the glades.  For my fellow flatlanders, that translates to “through the trees on steep hills.”  I ski one level:  the gentlest, easiest runs, the greens.  Trails marked by simple green circles.  For this reason, skiing is the one place in Will’s life that I am completely hands-off.  No choice: I’m on green circles, and Will is on black diamonds.

We received an email from the ski instructor the evening of Day One to let us know how Will had done that day.  They ski with GPS gadgets that also monitor speed.  Will’s top speed that day was 31.7 mph.  Must they torment me?  “Will, you would be breaking the 20 mph speed limit in my hometown!”  A grin in return.  Day Four, Will returned ecstatic.  “We went down the triple-black diamond!  The Black Hole!”  I calmly congratulated him.  That evening, I Googled “triple black diamond.”  What is the first thing that pops up?  The world’s scariest triple black diamonds in the United States. Number one, the Black Hole – pitched at 53 degrees – at Smuggler’s Notch.  The only triple black diamond east of the Mississippi.  My beast, Will, thinks it is spelled "sic."

After this short recollection of the Malcolm ski season, my heart is beating quickly.  Erratically?

Tonight, I’m packing up the ski gear for the year, for I feel a little sick.

(Have you read this Malcolm skiing adventure? Ski School.)

Recap of Smuggler's Notch, VT

I wrote at the beginning of our 5-day trip to Smuggler's Notch; now for posterity’s sake, a recap. Day 3, we tried one long green run as a family. I finally sent them ahead. It’s too daunting to watch their little statures flying down the mountain. That anxiety nearly knocks me over. Put me on my own little green run and meet me at the end of the day. That’s the ski equivalent of fingers in the ears singing “la-la-la” when you don’t want to hear what’s going on around you. Worried about me, Bill called to see if I was OK. “Going at my own pace.” I like to ski alone. If for some reason I can’t make it down a slope, I have confidence that all those instructors of 4-year-olds on my green run will get the ski patrol involved.

We will probably need to hire someone to ski with Will on those double- and triple-blacks he wants to ski in the future. Bill skied hard on blues and blacks with Will. Bill concedes that Will can pretty much out-ski him. The kid thrives on challenge and calculated (hopefully) risk-taking.

Liam exhibited control over apparent chaos. The last day of class was a Saturday. Parents collected at the bottom of the hill waiting for their kids to return from lessons. While waiting, I noticed that too many Saturday parents were waiting 10-deep directly in front of the lesson starting points which were also the finishing points. Thinking that was a little dangerous for the kids, I shrugged that thought off and tried to remember what the goggled skier I was waiting for looked like.

Ah, yes. There he was in a blue and green coat and a dark blue helmet – with bright orange goggles that confirmed he was mine. Cranky, he was going fast. And he didn’t slow on approach. And… he’s heading right toward all those parents! I waited for the crash. Instead, Liam disappeared into the crowd, and I watched as parents’ heads jerked upward like bunny heads popping out of holes. Liam zig-zagged through the crowd, full throttle. “Hi, Mom,” he said casually, innocently as he stopped 18 inches away from me. Liam had seen my purple and pink plaid coat and skied to it. With absolutely no idea of the chaos he had created in the crowd. Liam will always ski from Point A to Point B, no matter how many classes he takes. Making only as many turns as necessary.

Did Instructor Snow teach Liam everything he needed to know?  I see a kinship in those smiles.

Have you seen my "shredder" look?