My ski journey

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Photo by Sharlene Chen

With goggles and ski poles in hand, I am ready to embark on this year’s skiing adventure.

Amy Liu

It seemed that my young skiing career was plunging downhill. My six-year-old self and my first-time skier dad had just tumbled off the lift on the easiest green trail at Mount Rose Ski Resort. A quarter of the way down the trail, I fell for what seemed like the millionth time that day, crying and refusing to continue. As we trudged down the remainder of the trail, my dad carrying my skis, I told myself that I would never ski again.

My whole family was too scared to attempt skiing the next year. However, the following year, I reluctantly agreed to go on a ski trip with a group of family friends, and the parents signed us all up for lessons at Boreal Mountain California.

I grumpily woke up at 6 a.m. and dragged my skis to the lesson, where the instructors kindly helped me fit into my uncomfortable ski boots. Despite initially resenting giving skiing another shot, I followed the instructor’s directions and learned the Pizza, a way to control speed by angling my skis inward. The instructor taught me that when falling, I should try to fall toward the mountain rather than down the mountain to land safely. Gradually, I began to enjoy slowly skiing down the slope as the view through my goggles shifted from distant snowy mountains down to the familiar wooden ski lodge. After a week of daily lessons, I felt more hopeful in my skills and asked my parents to ski again next winter, and soon, skiing became an annual tradition.

Despite taking a professional skiing lesson, my most effective instructor has always been my dad. While I was taking my first ski lesson, my dad simultaneously took a private lesson, and his skills drastically improved. When we were at home, he showed me ski tutorials from Youtube, and we pretended to ski on our wooden floor. During our next trips, my dad patiently taught me the parallel turn and the hockey stop, a sharp sideways parallel turn that would allow me to stop, even on steep slopes. Correcting my mistakes as I progressed, he challenged me to raise my difficulty in trails, and together, we embarked on blue and black- rated trails. Whenever I fell, he was always there to help me back up again.

After seven years of our annual skiing tradition, COVID-19 hit us like a massive snowball, launching us off our trail. The moderate San Jose weather felt unfamiliar and even unwelcome. I wasn’t used to not driving four long hours to Lake Tahoe while battling my carsickness. Each day, I wistfully dreamed of zooming down the open slopes and dodging trees on unmarked trails. I scrolled through my photo albums of our past ski trips, wishing I could travel back in time to those moments of laughing with my friends after falling. I missed gathering early in the morning to put on my stiff boots, relaxing during lunch before taking the lift back up the mountain and accusing each other at our late night Mafia games. Skiing transports me to a blissful world without the stress of school. Most importantly, skiing is a nostalgic portal to my childhood and an opportunity for me to spend time with my family and friends. The ski break from the pandemic made me realize how our annual ski trips have truly become an integral part of my life.

This winter, I can’t wait to feel the winter breeze tickling my face, the powdered snow flying behind me and the rush of freedom and adrenaline. While I may be skiing downhill, my ski journey goes only uphill from here.