I’m up for almost anything new and potentially disastrous. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t go out looking for a something that will turn into a disaster. No. But, if I’m presented with an idea, and there is a possibility that could turn into something that resembles a disaster, well, I’m intrigued.

Is that unhealthy? I know it sounds crazy. In fact, several family members and friends have told me so. You know, that I’m crazy.

When I was invited to return to Banff this year to learn how to ski, I was intrigued.

I have avoided skis since 8th grade when a girl in my class skied down a hill, across a parking lot and into a car. Breaking her leg. Yep. I heard about that and I decided to never ski. Not ever.

Until this year.

I flew to Calgary for a 4-day weekend of fun and adventure in Banff. I went snowshoeing in Kootenay National Park. I rode in a dog sled to the Great Divide arch. I swallowed my fears (well, kind of) and put on ski boots for the very first time.

I was at Ski Lake Louise. It was a Saturday and the weather was absolutely gorgeous. After a small breakfast I was lead down to the equipment rental area where I had the awkward task of putting on ski boots.

I take back everything I said last year about snowboarding boots feeling weird. Ski boots are just wrong. Wrong!

Once I had all my gear, I walked awkwardly outside and onto the snow to meet the other newbies. Walking on a slope, in ski boots, for the very first time, was far too weird. Add that I have the ability to slip and fall in a small puddle of water and you’ll understand was incredibly cautious and slow I was. Needless to say, my instructor gave up waiting for me and came to take my skies as I slowly walked towards the group.

Was I embarrassed? Nope. I was too focused on the ‘don’t fall on your ass with everyone watching’ thing.

Putting on skies and slowly walking on flat ground felt slick, but not too bad. It wasn’t until we had to walk up a small slope that I started to get nervous.

Yes. You can laugh at me now.

I have this thing about fear. When I am truly afraid of something (no matter how ridiculous it sounds to you), I have small panic attacks. It doesn’t mean I don’t challenge my fear. I will challenge it. It just means I may have a mini meltdown in the process.

Getting up the slope was interesting. Once I felt comfortable with the side step, I was good to go. Getting down the small slope was an entirely different matter.

My instructor, Marie, held the tips of my skis and encouraged me to ‘make a piece of pizza’ which I was told would help me stop when skiing downhill. That. I understood. It was when she told me to make a bigger piece of pizza that I started to panic.


Marie bent down and started to stretch my legs further  and further apart. My knees hurt. My legs were bent in ways that didn’t feel natural at all. Plus, it felt like I was squatting and everyone was about to see me do my business.

That is when the panic started to set in. My legs don’t bend like this! OMG there is no way I am going to stop myself! I am going to do a face plant in the snow or break a limb! OMG, if I break my leg, how am I going to drive home when I get back to Toronto?!

It was sad. I know that now. But, when it was real. I was afraid. I was having a small panic attack, and as Marie held the tips of my skis and I started to go down the hill, there were tears running down my cheeks. Yes. Tears.

I know. This is something I should keep to myself. It’s embarrassing. But, if you really want to know what it was like, then I need to tell you, honestly.

I made it down the hill, in one piece. My legs were like Jell-O, the rest of the group was clapping and only Marie and I knew about my small panic attack.

My first panic attack over, and Marie sworn to secrecy (which is pointless now), I took of my skis and made my way back up the hill.

I managed to get in another run, this time without Marie holding my skis. The next run I did without poles. Both times I made it to the bottom in one piece -although my legs were jiggly by the end.

My second day of skiing was a little different. I traveled to Sunshine Village Ski & Snowboard Resort for the day.

Putting ski boots on proved to be more challenging and painful than the day before. I couldn’t understand why. By the time I made it through the rental area and walked over to the Gondola, I was in a lot of pain. It was like I had a charlie horse in my feet that wouldn’t go away.

I returned to the rental area, and put on slightly bigger boots. It felt a little better. But still super awkward.

My hill for the day was the bunny hill. Ah, my favourite hill. The one that is short and easy. Sean was going to show me the ropes and didn’t waste time. He snatched my poles and encouraged me to get onto the moving walkway. Except he didn’t know I had never skied onto a moving walkway.

I stood and stared. A very small panic. Nothing close to the day before, but I was afraid. Pathetic? Oh yes, definitely. It was truly sad.

When I finally got myself onto the walkway, I was fine. Until the end of the walkway. For some silly reason when I walked off the walkway, I kept sliding backwards. This wouldn’t matter, expect there were people coming up behind me. I reached out with my hand and motioned for the guy hanging out at the top to give me a hand.

Now that I was at the top of the hill, it was time to go down. Sean reminded me about ‘making a pieces of pizza’ and I slowly (and I mean slowly) started to go down hill. I was nervous. I was going faster than I was comfortable with. But, I made it to the bottom.

My legs were achy and shaky. I asked Sean to help me out of my boots. After a brief rest to get the feeling back in my legs, I put my skis on and attempted another run. This time I was a little more confident.

I spent the morning skiing onto the walkway, skiing down the bunny hill (and attempting to turn) and then spending a ridiculous amount of time off skis in an effort to settle my legs.

It was a sad affair. My legs were sore from the day before, as well as a few bunny hill runs at Sunshine. I wanted to keep going, but I wasn’t sure if my body would allow me to do so. Ultimately, I opted to not go on a real run. I know. It was a cowardly choice. Believe me. I am well aware of the fact that I should have gone on one and prayed that I made it down in one piece. I was also fully aware that Sean was probably more than slightly disappointed. Which bugged me. But, I chose to listen to my joints and not do it.

That being said, I haven’t given up on skiing. I’ve tried both skiing and snowboarding and I think I would be a skier, if given the choice. In fact, I can see myself giving skiing another go next winter.

Have you ever tried something that scared the hell out of you? How did it go?


About The Author

I'm a travel writer and photographer who specializes in bespoke travel experiences. I write about boutique, savvy and cultural travel. My writing has been featured in Outpost Magazine, Travel + Escape, and UP! Magazine.

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7 Responses

  1. Jill

    Skiing is quite hard! I went cross country skiing for the first time a few weeks ago and spent a bit of time falling on my ass until I got the hang of it. That didn’t stop me from running into trees on downhill parts, falling (practically diving forward) facefirst into a snowbank, and having a complete slip-and-fall moment (banana-peel style) on the last little hill. It’s fun though!

      • Mark

        Walking with skis is one of the hardest parts. A lot of people start to get pretty decent at going downhill and then still do this awkward little two-steps-forward-one-step-back shuffle. 

        The nice thing about cross country skiing is that the skis are usually designed so that they don’t slide backwards like downhill skis do. You can actually push off your ski in traditional cross country skiing.

  2. bigtraveladventure.com

    Well done at least you tried it and had a little bit of fun minus uncomfortable boots.

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