Discussion Series: Your First Time
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Scott - DCSki Editor
January 9, 2021
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,187 posts

From time to time, I'll throw out topics to DCSki's readers inviting them to weigh in with their own thoughts.  I'm hoping this will help draw out some of the lurkers into the discussion as well, helping us to get to know each other better.

So here's the first topic: describe your first time on the slopes.  How old were you?  Where was it at?  What caused you to try out skiing?  How did your first day go?  After your first time skiing (or boarding), were you immediately hooked, or was it more of a slowly-acquired taste?  Did you first go to the slopes on your own, or did someone who was already a skier drag you along?  Have you introduced others to the sport of skiing so they could have their first time on the slopes?

Scott - DCSki Editor
January 9, 2021
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,187 posts
And I suppose I need to eat my own dog food, so I'll share details about my First Time.

Growing up in Colorado, I was cross country skiing almost as soon as I could stand up.  But I had never gone downhill skiing until I lived in Maryland.  My sister's at-the-time boyfriend had introduced her to downhill skiing at a brand new ski area that had just opened up -- Whitetail Resort in Pennsylvania.  My sister kept bugging me, trying to get me to join a trip, and I finally caved in.  At that point, it had been awhile since I had gone cross country skiing, and I wasn't all that motivated to try downhill skiing.  I didn't view any of the "mountains" in the Mid-Atlantic as mountains (where my barometer growing up was the Colorado Rockies), and going on a crowded slope covered with manmade snow didn't seem all that appealing.

My sister is great at many things, but teaching skiing to her brother wasn't one of them.  With no lesson and no instruction, I was set loose on the beginner terrain at Whitetail.  I didn't even understand how chairlifts worked (we didn't have those cross-country skiing).  On my first first chairlift ride, I proceeded to immediately follow the people in front of me as they moved forward to wait for the chair to swing around.  I didn't know you had to pause and wait for the next chair.  They were surprised to find me behind them as the chair rapidly approached, and thankfully an alert lift attendant saw the impending disaster and was quick on the e-stop button.

Of course, once I had made it to the top of the hill, I had no idea how to ski off the chair as I had no experience skiing.  And that hump at the top of the chair looks pretty steep to a first-timer.  So, I immediately crashed, once again causing an alert lift attendant to hit the e-stop button before a chain reaction of crumpled bodies ensued.

All throughout this, I seem to recall my sister laughing.

On the first day, I somehow made it to Whitetail's more advanced beginner terrain.  It soon became obvious that I had a remarkable ski: I could fall while I was skiing down the slope, continue sliding down the trail, and then bounce back up to a standing position without ever coming to a stop.  I don't think this is a particularly useful technique, but no one had taught me how to safely fall.  (When I teach new skiers, I always start by showing them the optimal way to safely fall.)

That first day was a bit of a train wreck.  I could barely move the next day -- muscles I didn't know I had were sore.

But, somehow, I didn't hate it.  I peered over to Whitetail's more advanced terrain and saw very tangible goals.  I wanted to progress to the point that I could ski those intermediate trails, and board that high-speed quad.  And then, I wanted to conquer the black diamonds.  Whitetail's terrain is laid out from beginner to expert as you sweep left to right, and that made for a very clear plan.  What I've always loved about skiing is that you can unlock new opportunities as your skill level improves; trails that seemed challenging at first soon become easy, and eventually you can ski trails that you thought were way out of reach.  On my first day skiing, I looked at Whitetail's terrain as a puzzle that I wanted to solve.  And then, of course, you can begin to explore more and more ski areas, each with their own set of rewards and challenges -- all of these aspects made me hooked from the beginning.

So I bought a night season pass and began visiting about one evening a week, steadily working on my skills.  I would have done well to get a lesson early on, to avoid learning bad habits and to shorten my learning curve.  But I was too poor, having spent all my money on skis and a season pass.

Since then, I've introduced many friends and colleagues to skiing.  Some tried it once or two and lost interest, while others have turned into life-long skiers.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
January 9, 2021 (edited January 9, 2021)
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,821 posts
I honestly can't specifically remember my first day of skiing. I know it was during Christmas vacation back in the late 60s and it was at Blue Knob, PA. I believe it was at Christmastime in December of 1967, when I was age 14. My earliest ski memories are an aggregation of several cold and icy experiences at Blue Knob.

My parents didn't start skiing themselves until a couple of years later.  The extent of my earliest ski instruction consisted of my three older siblings pointing me towards the beginner area and telling me to have at it.   I have joked over the years that I thought the area was called Blue Knob for the color of the ice on some of the trails due to leaky, inefficient snowguns.  Blue Knob is an upside down resort. The base lodge and beginner slopes are at the top of an exposed mountain, elevation 3100' in western PA that is often subject to wind.  They may qualify for one of the coldest beginner areas in the state of Pennsylvania.  More of my early ski memories here (saved from 20 years ago thanks to Scott):  https://www.dcski.com/articles/582

This is my dad in the late 1960s with a Scotty trailer that we slept in at the summit of Blue Knob during several of my earliest trips to Blue Knob. In 1972 my father purchased a vacation home near Blue Knob that we visited frequently for 15 years.
1596588637_wkcyvahhq.jpg


Here I am on right with my two older brothers at Camelback, PA in 1968. My brother in center had just returned from a tour of duty in Vietnam, USMC Infantry. My other brother on left has a new pair of black Head Standard skis that he got that year for Christmas.
jim john ed camelback 1968.jpeg








imp - DCSki Supporter 
January 9, 2021
Member since 01/11/2007 🔗
262 posts

I had a pair of wooden skis with beartraps in my yard for a few years.

I got a chance to go to Laurel Mountain the year after the lodge burned down with a ski patrol friend. He had taught me to use what I had in my yard.

I got rentals at Laurel which had survived the fire and away I went. All that was open was upper Broadway with a poma and upper Wildcat with a rope tow. A very steep rope tow. If you ever get to Laurel the rope went between Wildcat and Laurel Run behind the pines.  50 years ago

wfyurasko - DCSki Supporter 
January 9, 2021 (edited January 9, 2021)
Member since 07/27/2014 🔗
283 posts

Ski Liberty, 4th grade, year not important

My mom took my younger brother and a friend of mine on one of the Monday holidays. I wasn't good at snowplowing and didn't much care for the j-bar. My friend never tried again. I only went up on lift once and crashed coming off.

I went to Ski Roundtop, Wisp and Whitetail with scouts and got marginally better. I was pretty good at falling.

The older kids in my neighborhood had skis, so I wanted to ski because they did. When we had very large snowstorms, they'd get their skis on an make jumps and pressure younger kids to laydown next to the ramp so they could jump over them. I won't say which Congressman's yard that occurred in.

What really got me going was getting some old skis, new boots and taking skiing for phys ed credit at Penn State Hazleton. Every Tuesday night for 7 weeks at Big Boulder. Learning on that hard pack, when I was finally getting somewhere. I took it my sophomore year too. I still ski with one of my friends from that class about every other year.

The best teacher, of course, is skiing with someone better than you. That and daily wall-sits for a month leading up to that one precious day I tend to get on the slopes. I even had my co-workers joining me for wall-sits over several winters.

bob
January 9, 2021 (edited January 9, 2021)
Member since 04/15/2008 🔗
707 posts

My first time I was about 20. Place: Buffalo Mountain NW of Chicago - now know as Raging Buffalo Snowboard Park. Vert: maybe 200 feet on a good day. Snow conditions  made east coast ice look pretty good.

Took a lesson, and thought I had the snow plow down pretty well. Took the lift to the top and started down the ice, and my snow plow was not slowing me down. I continued to gain speed as I neared the bottom where a large number of people had gathered. If I continued to snowplow, I was going to run in to the group. Then I remembered watching the winter olympics and seeing skiers do what I later learned is called a hockey stop. I executed a perfect hockey stop about 30 feet from the bottom - then fell over.

I enjoyed the experience so much that I didn't strap on skis again for another 21 years. I returned to the sport in 1991 at Blue Knob and the outcome was much better. and have thoroughly enjoyed the last 30 years on snow.

fosphenytoin - DCSki Supporter 
January 9, 2021 (edited January 9, 2021)
Member since 12/20/2017 🔗
155 posts

1st ever was in Breckenridge 11 years ago, the week after Thanksgiving.  My college friend from Texas got a time share there and asked if I wanted to join her family for a CO road trip.  After I got off the gondola at Breck, I saw this big status board, it has trail names and flashing green / red lights next to them.  My first impression about skiing: this (sport) seems complicated and overwhelming.  It reminds me of train station and airports status boards back in the days.  


I took a never ever lesson the first day, it was a group of 8 - 10 students on bunny hill.  I remembered our instructor told us: point your skis straight down and let it slide, you would go straight and stop at the end of the trail.  Everyone else was able to do that except me…. After several attempts, my instructor said: “just let your skis run and don’t stop.”  I listened, and I ran into this pole and fell.  The liftie helped me to get up, and asked: “Ma’am, you ok?”  I replied: “Yes I am ok….”  He then commented: “Boy, I am glad you are not a man, coz that would hurt…..”


2nd day I took another beginner lesson in the afternoon, this time I got to ride up to the mid mountain.  First run, I could not stop and ran into a snowboarder that was sitting there….  No lift chair in that learning area, only T-bar.  I had countless face plant trying to get moving from that T-bar.  A liftie tried to push me to get me going, I still fell….  Eventually, it took the liftie and my instructor, one on each side, pushed me to get going....


At the end of the day, all students from that group lesson was able to ski down to the base area, except me…  My instructor had to call ski patrol and I rode on a snowmobile to get down to the base. 

So I was not hooked on skiing at all.  Why would people like skiing?  It is so scary.  That was my thought after I “skied” 2 days at Breckenridge.  


2nd time was in Snowshoe.  I’d actually consider it was my true first time skiing because that Breckenridge trip was a disaster and I got nothing out of it besides I know I don’t like skiing. 

Snowshoe trip was in 2010 President’s day weekend.  Another college friend from Indiana (her husband likes to ski) proposed to go to WV Snowshoe and suggested we do Chinese hot pot one night…….. I love hot pot, that was the only reason I felt motivated to go…Not because of skiing, but my love for hot pot. 

We planned the president’s day weekend trip months in advance.  Until late January, we did not have any snow and I was wishing we could have some snow for this ski trip.   Be careful of what you wish for.  2010 was the snowmageddon year.  We got snowed in for more than a week in Feb. I drove to WV on Friday, just 2 days after it finally stopped snowing.  

I needed a new start over, so I took another never ever lesson.  Second day after the lesson,  I remembered I was standing at the top of this green run, feeling intimidated and nervous (because I fell on that run during the lesson), trying to calm myself down mentally. A mother with her young daughter were next to me. The girl was also freaking out…. I heard her mother said “come on, we need to face our own fear….”  I think it was that moment I become “interested” in skiing. I thought to myself, I could use this sport (as a surrogate) to learn how to face fear…  

From the Snowshoe trip, I know I want to pursue this sport and; I need to find friends that ski so they can help me to learn the ropes.  

I met this couple through a mutual friend at a dinner gathering in winter 2014.  I learned they have been skiing almost 10 years.  I asked if I could tag along if they go skiing…  I started skiing with them and did few late season trips to Liberty that year.  The first few years I skied with them, they kept saying: “All our friends have stopped skiing since they are getting older.  We are the only ones still ski because we are the youngest of the bunch, but we plan stop in a few years also…. “  They said this every year for the first few years.  

In recent years, we’ve done enough ski trips together that the wife and I become good friends (I no longer consider them as “seasonal friends”.).  She no longer tells me she plans to stop skiing ..…  From time to time she’d say, “I am so grateful for our mutual friend, I get to meet you from her dinner gathering.  Because of you, I am a much better skier now.  I’d stop skiing if not because of you.  As my husband is not keen on skiing, I don’t go if he does not go….”


I did not introduce others to this sport, but I like to think I keep someone in the sport.  I am sure her husband is grateful for me too, because I spare him from the misery of skiing….  


First day at Snowshoe in 2010, still snowing hard when we got there.  

1610241688_pbfbyfavtfkw.jpg


We stayed at a motel in Elkins.  They let us use the dining room for hot pot dinner, here is the spread.... 

1610241705_ndubjtlzjfoq.jpg

fosphenytoin - DCSki Supporter 
January 9, 2021
Member since 12/20/2017 🔗
155 posts

wfyurasko wrote:

That and daily wall-sits for a month leading up to that one precious day I tend to get on the slopes. 

 How many times do you do each day and how long do you hold the post for?  Asking because I am interested in this exercise to strengthen my quad.

Shotmaker
January 9, 2021
Member since 02/18/2014 🔗
108 posts

My first time was at Seven Springs I was 20 years old that was in 1978. I went there with a high school friend who had skied before. After getting my skis on I decided to go down a small slope which was located close to where we had parked. It couldn't have been more than 6' of vertical. I aligned my skis next to each other went straight parallel down then fell over. The falling part was repeated too many times to remember. I believe at one point I was keeping a count but gave up as the number got close to 100 times.

It was a bluebird day cold with plenty of hard pack (ice) everywhere. I had no idea what would be considered good conditions. My ski pants consisted of blue jeans which despite the weather managed to get wet. Guess it was the resting on the snow after a fall with my body warmth melting the snow into my jeans. I never really felt the cold as there was a perpetual smile across my face. I watched people ski and tried to emulate what other people did. The best skiers skied parallel so that is how I tried to ski. That was okay until I wanted to turn. Of course that's when I would fall. I most likely did some wedging but we were there for the day (7+hours of skiing). The mindset was to get your monies worth!

As the day progressed my love of the sport continued to grow. I found something that I really enjoyed. The skier that I most admired was Franz Klammer. He most likely was the reason that I finally got out on the slopes. After seeing him in the 76' Olympics I was in awe. Certainly, my friends and their peer influence had a lot to do with me getting into the sport. What I liked was the speed. In my 40+ years that has never wavered.

That first day I went from skiing mostly greens and blues to attempting the North Face run. Made it about half way down to just where the headwall started took off my skis and backtracked.

That was my day. It was great! A top 10 day of my life. A day I will never forget.

 

Dafixison
January 9, 2021 (edited January 10, 2021)
Member since 01/30/2020 🔗
23 posts

My first attempt at skiing was back in 1982 during my first winter in America.

We came to America (Harrisburg, PA) as boat refugees from Vietnam a day before Thanksgiving in 1982. Soon after our arrival, we were treated to our first snow fall.  At the time, there was a local Lutheran church group that took us in to help us with our assimilation to our new American life.  As part of that assimilation,  I was invited to join the church group with their children on their annual ski trip to Seven Springs.  

Bundled up in the donated winter clothings, I joined some of the children in the group on the bunny slope for my first lesson.  Chilled to the bone and can't speak a lick of English, I struggled through the class; but with every fall and ski cross, I remember the feeling of exhilaration that this strange winter activity stirred from within.  Despite being terrified of being away from my family with strangers in a new land, I was sad when we had to go home.  I don't think that I ever got off that bunny slope for the entire trip, but the seed for the love of sport was planted during that wonderful trip.

Forwarding almost 4 decades later, I still have a special place in my heart for Seven Springs.  Now that my kids are starting to enjoy skiing, we make it to that special place three or four times a season...Unfortunately, that means that they have put up with my story about my first skiing experience on every drive up I-68.

wfyurasko - DCSki Supporter 
January 10, 2021
Member since 07/27/2014 🔗
283 posts

fosphenytoin wrote:

wfyurasko wrote:

That and daily wall-sits for a month leading up to that one precious day I tend to get on the slopes. 

 How many times do you do each day and how long do you hold the post for?  Asking because I am interested in this exercise to strengthen my quad.


Of late I have been doing 3 sets at 30 seconds each. If I remember, I'll do it twice a day.

If I'm on top of things, I start November 1, but that doesn't always happen. Since I'm cycling on most weekends, I don't feel too bad about it. If I give myself a solid two weeks before hitting the slopes, I see the difference.

When I was younger, I'd worked up to two sets of 2 minutes, but I think that was overkill and put more stress on my knees.

There are other stretches that help that I sometimes do, but I feel like wall-sits are the most important.

wfyurasko - DCSki Supporter 
January 10, 2021
Member since 07/27/2014 🔗
283 posts
I really enjoyed your story @Dafixison
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter 
January 11, 2021
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
3,107 posts

JimK wrote:

I honestly can't specifically remember my first day of skiing. I know it was during Christmas vacation back in the late 60s and it was at Blue Knob, PA. I believe it was at Christmastime in December of 1967, when I was age 14. My earliest ski memories are an aggregation of several cold and icy experiences at Blue Knob.

My parents didn't start skiing themselves until a couple of years later.  The extent of my earliest ski instruction consisted of my three older siblings pointing me towards the beginner area and telling me to have at it.   I have joked over the years that I thought the area was called Blue Knob for the color of the ice on some of the trails due to leaky, inefficient snowguns.  Blue Knob is an upside down resort. The base lodge and beginner slopes are at the top of an exposed mountain, elevation 3100' in western PA that is often subject to wind.  They may qualify for one of the coldest beginner areas in the state of Pennsylvania.  More of my early ski memories here (saved from 20 years ago thanks to Scott):  https://www.dcski.com/articles/582

This is my dad in the late 1960s with a Scotty trailer that we slept in at the summit of Blue Knob during several of my earliest trips to Blue Knob. In 1972 my father purchased a vacation home near Blue Knob that we visited frequently for 15 years.
1596588637_wkcyvahhq.jpg


Here I am on right with my two older brothers at Camelback, PA in 1968. My brother in center had just returned from a tour of duty in Vietnam, USMC Infantry. My other brother on left has a new pair of black Head Standard skis that he got that year for Christmas.
jim john ed camelback 1968.jpeg

Enjoyed the story Jim.  Amazing how much you looked like your son Vince, at a similar age!!  MorganB






 

camp
January 11, 2021 (edited January 11, 2021)
Member since 01/30/2005 🔗
630 posts

I was 18 on New Years Eve 1979 at a party with a friend who said "let's go skiing at Massanutten tomorrow". He had skied once before. Typical teach your buddy from the top. I was pretty hooked from that first day. We went to Blue Knob a couple weeks later and were instructed by his dad on how to sleep safely in their Galaxy 500 at the top of Blue Knob in January. We didn't need to sleep there since he needed to drive me back to hospitals to fix the hand I broke on Mambo Alley.

My level of hooked has grown several times since, first with snowboarding, then with discovering powder, then White Grass and telemark skiing which really upped the obsession level. Current obsession is learning the different varieties of parallel alpine turns. Expert by 80 is my new motto.

Edit: I found this DCSki site in the early stages of my White Grass obsession when I started hearing about a new resort being discussed on Mount Porte Crayon. Searches led me to posts here and I've been a regular reader since.

Yes, I've introduced many others to skiing and passed it on to one child.

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