Skiing and Cerebral Palsy: Two Consecutive Days

The last time I skied two days in a row was during my youth. There were a few years in my early teenage years when ski trips took place each winter. Traveling to Idaho and Utah was exciting in the middle part of February. This season has been full of more frequent trips up to the mountain. After skiing once per week for a couple months last year, I decided to get a season pass for the winter of 2023. Giving me the freedom to venture up more often, if the desire struck. In the last few weeks, I have taken on the larger challenge. Elevating my frequency of skiing from the once per week habit of a season ago. The fear of becoming too tired has been a mental hurtle for me to cross. A worry of becoming stuck on the side of the mountain. I fear the possibility of falling, without having the strength to stand up, and finish the slope being skied. The situation would cause frustration and could carry the consequence of halting my courage to ski, entirely. So, I have become careful about not pushing my ability too quickly. Because, I remember being a kid on the ski bus, when a fell on my own, it drove an incredible fear of skiing by myself. The effort to overcome that anxiety has been an immense challenge. Taking years of cautiously improving my ability. 

My anxiety around skiing seems to be rooted in getting overly tired. Taking on challenging terrain when I’m not feeling fully prepared to tackle the slope. Something great about skiing on a season pass has been the removal of the pressure. When I head up for time on the slopes, the pressure to get my monies worth doesn’t persist. Instead, I feel free to ski for as long, or as short a time, as feels comfortable. The situation leads to a feeling of taking my time, in building up the endurance to ski longer. So, this season, after spending time to get my skiing legs underneath me, following the off-season. It felt like a good opportunity to play with increasing my frequency of trips to the slopes. Plus, I wanted to do my best to turn my season pass into a positive decision. I started my journey of higher frequency by trying to ski a couple times during the week. In order to accomplish the goal safely, I wanted to spread out the days inside the particular week. Skiing in the morning of a day in the middle of the week, has always been great. The mid-week morning was the day I had identified last season to be on the mountain. Last ski season, it was often a Wednesday morning that I headed up to the snow. The morning was almost always quiet. Allowing for an incredibly relaxed atmosphere to overcome my fears of being on the slopes. The plan worked out incredibly last season and I wanted to keep the feeling going, this season. Helping me continue to gain comfort on the mountain. 

With the midweek morning ski on the priority list. I spent time thinking about the most productive second space in the week. The thought of a time when the resort would not be too crowded. Another aspect in mind was finding some time to ski under the lights. Skiing at night felt like a great opportunity to take advantage of, at the mountain. All of the processing of information landed my mind on the ides of Sunday afternoon/evening. It could be a quiet time during the week, as kids prepare for the upcoming school week. For the first few Sundays in the early season, I headed up in the afternoon. When the sun sets early during the winter months, the lights take hold before the 5 o’clock hour. Providing for some fun skiing in the early evening. I was really enjoying the contrast of skiing at night, as compared to the mornings of the middle week days. The resort looked different under the lights. Creating a unique atmosphere that was fun to experience. The pattern of skiing in the night was the push needed for me to ski more challenging terrain. When we showed up to ski on a Sunday night, preceding a Monday holiday. The line for the easiest Daisy chair was overflowing. Looking like it would take a while just to get onto the lift. Not wanting to wait, along with feeling like I could handle the challenge. An intermediate chair was chosen and the night of skiing became an unforeseen skiing accomplishment. I proved to myself that my skill level was improving. 

Following my instinct leading to the intermediate chairlift on that Sunday evening proved the elevated skill. The night ski was my second time of skiing during that particular week. It had also been around my second or third consecutive week of skiing twice. The overcoming of my fear in regards to the fear of fatigue could not be ignored. I was skiing with more energy on more challenging terrain. During that first night of focusing on the intermediate ski runs, I only fell once. It was something for me to proud of accomplishing. All the ski runs I had taken on the beginner slopes. Trying over and over again to improve my technique, while also strengthening my body. Everything came together on that night, because of the crowds of skiers. But, it also leads me away from skiing at night. At least when it came to skiing on a Sunday night, with a holiday to follow on Monday. In the following days, I was asked what was going through my head when deciding to ski that night. To be honest, there didn’t seem to be a good answer for the question. I didn’t really understand the impact a Monday holiday would have on the Sunday night crowd. There have been many different experiences this year, due to skiing on a more regular basis. Things I can file away in my thoughts for understanding, if I decide to renew my season pass. 

After those few night skiing experiences, I was satisfied. Deciding to stick with skiing during the week in the mornings or afternoons. For the following few weeks the goal was pretty well accomplished. Finding a couple days in the flow of my week to go skiing. I was starting to ski a morning here and an afternoon over there. The days of skiing continued to be spaced apart by a couple days of rest. The idea of skiing two of three days was playing in my mind. But, the courage to give it a try, hadn’t materialized. The reason for thinking of elevating my frequency was traveling to ski at a destination. It feels like the only way to make a ski trip worthwhile, would be developing the strength and ability to ski a couple times, within a three or four-day period. So, in having the goal of strengthening my ability, in order to travel with my skies, a week arrived to take my next step. Arriving on my weekly schedule was a busy one, drawing me into trying the concept of skiing two out of three days, because that was all the time I had available. There would be a day to rest my body between them and I knew this would be a good test. The week arrived and I stuck with the plan. Skiing on a Wednesday morning and again on the Friday morning, a couple days later. The two days were pretty easy skis, as I stuck with the beginner terrain. They left me feeling slight soreness over the weekend. However, the two-day trial, with the rest day of separation, left me feeling like it was doable. The next step would be more complicated.

With the accomplishment of skiing two out of three days, I had the opportunity to push forward. My weeks were beginning to fill up with obligations and time to ski was shrinking. Inside my new schedule was left two prime days for skiing, midweek. The challenge was they arrived on back to back days. Tuesday and Wednesday would be free of weekly obligations. Since I can do my writing at any time, it can be worked around my skiing habit. So, looking at the weekly schedule I had pieced together. The only way in which I could ski two midweek mornings, would be to ski them on consecutive days. I decided to give the challenge an attempt just last week. The first of my two days was an amazing day of snow. With inches falling during the early morning hours. The dry layer of thin powder made condition unbelievable. Some of the best I have skied in my life, on the slopes. I skied the intermediate terrain for the entire day, as I became more confident of the challenging runs. Only spending one of the runs on a beginner slope, during the couple hours of skiing. On the second of the two days. Conditions remained great, but not nearly as magical as the morning prior. I took on just a couple intermediate runs and spent the remainder of my time on the easiest slopes. The second of the back to back days, left me feeling pretty tired. As my walk, back to the car was full of fatigue and emotion.

My goal of becoming a strengthened skier will continue to be challenging. At each step of my progression, I keep my disability in mind. The objective has been to have patience with myself. The journey of improving at anything, will take me longer to achieve. Which, feels like a major reason to find things I truly enjoy. Activities like skiing that bring happiness, even at the most basic of levels. The easiest of runs on the mountain can become boring at times, but there remains an inherent joy even when I want more challenge. There will always be strength to be gained from any level of skiing and spending time on the slopes accomplishes the goal of improving my disability. Helping me work on balance and coordinated movements within my body. Those improvements don’t require anything more than the easiest of terrain. However, the ability to become a better skier drives me to ski more often. I love the passion found inside the incremental steps involved with moving up to the intermediate level. With the hope of advancing my skill level even further, someday. The possibility for advancing my ski level comes from the accomplishment, already of elevating the frequency of my skiing. I have been grateful for the development of that strength, allowing for added time spent on the slopes. While, bringing to life the possibility of travelling somewhere awesome to ski. I now feel like I’m truly on the path to making a ski trip worthwhile. 

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