Skiing in the Italian Alps

To give you an idea of what it is like to go skiing with me I will tell you that my boyfriend, Steve, said to my mother, “A ski trip isn’t complete unless Emily ends up crying on the side of a mountain at least once.” I will be honest, I typically cry more than once per ski trip. While Steve is supportive and always tries to build my confidence, I am by no means an expert or even intermediate skier.

I have gone skiing exactly six times in my life. I learned on a bunny hill outside of Minneapolis, I’ve gone twice to Terry Peak, South Dakota (where at one point, with my legs and skis going opposite directions my friend said, “I have no idea how you did that.”), once in Korea, and I’ve gone skiing twice in the Italian Alps.

Let me point out that Steve is an expert skier. He started when he was six years old, was on the ski team at his high school in Wisconsin, was the ski and snowboard club captain at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for two of the four years he was in the group, and taught skiing and snowboarding at Lake Tahoe, NV for two years. He literally skis circles around me.

This might explain how, on my most recent ski trip to Cervinia, Italy this winter, I found myself once again sitting on the side of the mountain having a small panic attack.

The city of Cervinia (Cher-vee-nee-ah) sits in the western shadow of the Matterhorn, which lays half in Italy and half in Switzerland. The landscape was beautiful with the Matterhorn dominating the skyline, but at that moment I was too terrified to appreciate it.

After a semi-successful day of skiing (no injuries) I realized our last run of the day was far above my skill level and began taking my skis off in protest; planning to slide down the mountain on my butt, no matter how humiliating it was.

SOC out and about 4-20-16.jpg

This is me looking ridiculous in a ski helmet that is too big and a my boyfriends jacket, since I had packed an insufficient one. Look how happy I am…not. Terrified; I was terrified of falling off the side of the mountain.

As I detached the skis from my boots, the ski patrol stopped and said in their Swiss-German accents, “You can not slide down on your bottom. You will go too fast and you can’t stop and will fly right off the edge.”

This was not the motivation I needed so I said, “And what makes you think I won’t fly off the edge with these sticks attached to my legs?”

They did not reply, but waited until I had put the skis back on. It took me almost thirty minutes to slowly “pizza” my way down the mountain, but I did it. I was proud of myself for conquering my fear, but I will be damned if you ever find me on the side of another mountain with carbon fiber rods stuck to my legs.


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