Saturday, January 21, 2006

Hitting the Slopes

Today, I had to go to work.

My alarm went off, and my body said, "Just ignore it. Go back to sleep. Nobody will miss you at work today."

I had to fight REALLY HARD to convince myself to actually get out of bed.

Get up, clean up, then start putting on layers of clothes.

Three layers, to be exact.

Why so many layers of clothes? (Actually, it's only one more layer than usual, but hey...)

Today was the Starfish High Teachers' Ski Trip.

Yep, today I was getting paid to go skiing. Most people in my position would be ecstatic. I was not.


Well, the fact that I hadn't been skiing in nine years was a big factor. Another big factor was that all of those nine years ago, I came really close to breaking my leg. And to top it all off, my knees have been giving me problems since last May. Hence, I was a little nervous about going skiing again.

We all met at school at 8:30 and piled into various vehicles. I hopped into Jack's jeep, and we loaded all of the gear in his rig as well. Then we were off to Sunlaiva Ski Resort in Noboribetsu.

Once we all arrived, we unloaded the gear and headed up to get our lift passes. I had to rent skis and poles, but I lucked out with wear and boots. Hiroshi let me borrow his ski wear, as he was staying at Starfish High all day. The school had a pair of unclaimed ski boots that fit me lying around, so now those are mine. Oh yeah, since it was a school event, our lift passes were free.

So after getting all decked out in my ski duds, I went outside with the rest of the group to begin our training.

Why training? Because we will be taking our students skiing in a couple of weeks, and we need to be able to coach them.

We did some stretching, some basic ski practice, and learned some ways to help show our students how to ski. Then it was off to the ski lift.

So far, so good.

Up the lift and down the hill five times: twice on the easy slope (once with poles, once without), three times on the steeper slope (twice with poles, once without). The whole "skiing without poles" idea was a little freaky at first, but it actually ended up being kind of fun. We did it in order to get our upper bodies to "open up" a bit more so we could ski with a more natural posture. I don't know if it helped, but I was having fun.

I only fell down about three times, too. Not bad for nine years away from the slopes. (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that prior to the half day of skiing nine years ago, I had only been skiing for two days three years before that. I am nowhere near being a "good" skier.)

A short lunch break to see some of the staff off and to grab a bite to eat (fried potatoes...three small potatoes dipped in a doughnut batter and fried...greasy goodness). Then it was back out to the slopes. Jack traded in the skis for his snowboard and we hit the first lift. At the top, we went down to the second lift and went all the way to the top of the slope.

At the top, we had our choice of the "Dynamic" run or the "Panorama" run. I figured that the "Dynamic" sounded, well...dynamic, where as the feel of the word "panorama" called up calming images of fields and seasides. "Panorama" it was, then.

Oh my.

That's some steep skiing. But no lie about the view. You could see all the way out to the ocean. How cool is that? You can look down on this white valley that stretches all the way out to the sea. Damn, makes you happy just to be alive.

Which concerned me a bit as I focused my eyes downward. Would I make it down this hill alive?

Well, there's only one way down, and that's on my skis. So off I went.

I didn't fall down as much as I thought I would, and I really started to get a feel for the slope...that is, until I hit the moguls.

Yep. The "Panorama" run had moguls.

I braved them all the way down, though, and managed to not only not injure myself, but also have a pretty fun time. So I went back up to the top with Jack again and hit the "Dynamic" run. Again, very steep, but no moguls. By this time, my thighs were starting to shake a bit each time I turned. Not a good sign. So I skied all the way down, and just did a couple more short runs before calling it a day.

After packing up everything, Jack and I hit an onsen before hauling all the gear back to Starfish High. He dropped me off at home, and then I was off to bed.


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