Our Skiing Evolution

As we patiently await the start to the 2014-2015 ski season Alex and I have been recalling just how far we have come as skiers over the last several years. We also realized that we are entering our seventh ski season in Washington, making that Alex’s eighth overall ski season.

{From the 2012-2013 ski season at our home mountain, Crystal Mountain Resort}

{From the 2012-2013 ski season at our home mountain, Crystal Mountain Resort}

Somehow I had a lot of confidence as a skier back in 2008-2009 while I was rocking my two-sizes-too-big white, down puffy coat that I had to get that big so it could fit all of my layers underneath {thanks mom}, my hand-me-down snowpants, another thanks to my mom, and my old school hand-me-down straight, skinny skis from my aunt who is at least 5 inches taller than I am.

{Whistler December 2008!}

{Top of Alpental, March 2009! Either I look like a snowman or a marshmallow? What’s your thought?}

Really, though, I remember thinking I was too hot to trot back then. And looking at the pictures I am really not sure what I would think if I saw me standing in the lift line for an “expert only” area of the mountain. Actually, I do know what I would think!

{Our first ski trip together - skinny skis and all! Whistler, December 2008}

{Our first ski trip together – skinny skis and all! Whistler, December 2008}

{We fell in love with Whistler back in 2008, even with the temperatures down to 30 below zero, hence the gigantic mitts on my hands.}

{We fell in love with Whistler back in 2008, even with the temperatures down to 30 below zero, hence the gigantic mitts on my hands.}

Moving on… Skiing in Washington has really been probably the best thing that Alex and I have done. As a kid I had fond memories of skiing, though I wanted to ditch my parents and just go find the jumps. Eventually in high school I became too cool for skiing and tried my hand at snowboarding a couple times before giving up on both completely. Somewhere along the line in college I yearned to go skiing again.

{I believe this was taken at Buck Hill in Minnesota around 1988}

{I believe this was taken at Buck Hill in Minnesota around 1988}

At that point, Alex had never tried skiing or snowboarding, and finally, our senior year of college Alex’s family took a trip to Breckenridge. I encouraged Alex to ski instead of snowboard and thankfully he listened. His family secured a ski instructor and Alex was hooked. Just like that.

{The family that skis together....}

{The family that skis together….}

There are a lot of people who I credit Alex’s unbelievable transition to becoming an exceptional skier. The person who wins the gold star is really Alex, though. I have come to realize how difficult it is to learn how to ski as an adult, mainly because you understand pain and risk and it’s a bit unnatural to fly down a snow {or ice} covered mountain with two wooden planks attached to your feet.

rendezvous bowl

Alex bit his tongue and followed his ski instructor’s words of advice, then trying to be Mr. Big Shot, kept his mouth shut as I dragged him down a double black diamond mogul field known as Parachute. Oh the fond nights we spent learning how to master the Pacific Northwest at Snoqualmie those first few years. Neither one of us had any idea what we were doing. We just went for it.

{Backseat Betty! Alex's first time skiing powder in March 2009}

{Backseat Betty! Alex’s first time skiing powder in March 2009}

{I had such great form!}

{I had such great form!}

{My brother wins the award from that day - it was also his first day skiing powder but he flew down the hill like a bullet and left us in the dust!}

{My brother wins the award from that day – it was also his first day skiing powder but he flew down the hill like a bullet and left us in the dust!}

The second year we lived in Washington we looked the part a bit more. I got a new more modern ski coat and pants, along with my first pair of shaped skis. We both got helmets to complete our look. I think this was the year that Alex bought his second pair of skis.

whistler 001

{Showing off my new ski gear in Whistler, 2009/10}

Our third ski season in Washington was the turning point for us, I believe. This particular year we had the opportunity to follow Patrick around Crystal Mountain during the four weekends we rented a cabin near the resort. Patrick is a fearless skier to say the least. We explored Crystal Mountain together with him and Carrie, as well as his childhood friend Chris and his wife Diane, both of whom are incredible skiers.

{Our perception changed a lot this winter. Behind me is a Breckenridge double black diamond. We're fairly sure that this would be a blue in Washington...}

{Our perception changed a lot this winter. Behind me is a Breckenridge double black diamond. We’re fairly sure that this would be a blue or single black in Washington… Either way, I LOVED Horseshoe Bowl – one of my favorite areas on the mountain.}

In addition to our local charades, we also took a trip to Breckenridge and had a private ski lesson from the man who taught Alex how to ski. That was singlehandedly the best thing we have done to improve our form.

{Putting the new skills we learned in Breckenridge to the test in Cheyenne Bowl in Jackson Hole}

{Putting the new skills we learned in Breckenridge to the test in Cheyenne Bowl in Jackson Hole}

I’m not sure how many ski days we had during the 2010-2011 ski season, but I bet it was pushing 40. That was the year our foundation was set and our skills and techniques were on their way.

{One of our trips to Whistler - we both agree that Whistler is our favorite ski resort and the place we wish we didn't have to go home from}

{One of our trips to Whistler – we both agree that Whistler is our favorite ski resort and the place we wish we didn’t have to go home from.}

The years that followed have allowed us to refine our form and continue to improve, but no ski season sticks out in my mind as much as 2010-2011. It paved the way for us. The following year we kicked it up another notch by taking another ski lesson, and I got a new ski outfit that made me look a bit more professional and put together and ready for several more years of adventures on skis.

{Sometimes I even surprise myself by pushing the limits a bit more. Last winter we hiked for what felt like a day, but was probably 30 minutes to Southback, an area of avalanche controlled backcountry terrain at Crystal Mountain.}

{Sometimes I even surprise myself by pushing the limits a bit more. Last winter we hiked for what felt like a day, but was probably 30 minutes to Southback, an area of avalanche controlled backcountry terrain at Crystal Mountain.}

{Alex got into backcountry skiing a while back and has taken several avalanche safety courses.}

{Alex got into backcountry skiing a while back and has taken several avalanche safety courses.}

{We took advantage of a really long snow season and did a ski tour on August 28th back in 2011.}

{We took advantage of a really long snow season and did a ski tour on August 28th back in 2011.}

We are both so thankful to our families for providing us the opportunity to learn to ski. We are very fortunate to have been able to take up a sport like this in the way that we have done. It’s a focal point to our winters and it makes me wonder what we would do all winter long if we didn’t ski. Now, here’s to the 2014-2015 ski season… if it ever comes to Washington!