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Skiing: My Nordic Heritage

So this weekend I found myself in long johns under clothes under ski pants and a heavy winter coat with a ski mask and a hat, wool socks, heavy gloves, hand warmers and goggles sitting on a moving chair twenty feet above the ground with long, thin boards strapped to my feet feeling every centimeter of skin not covered in the 5 F degree weather.

The moving chair was taking me to the top of a mountain with no way of getting down it except sliding down.  And I kept doing it.  For three days.

(I want to take this time to personally apologize to my thighs for not doing enough squats before this weekend.  My thighs have complained and I have heard them.  I am doing a Jillian Michaels workout tomorrow.  I’m pretty sure.)

When you think about it, skiing is insane.  People get injured all the time and the highlight of my ski days is the hot chocolate.  Midway through the day, I loosen my boots, warm up, drink hot chocolate and then go back out.

I actually enjoy this.

And I force my children to do it.

I know, my son looks completely tortured because I force him to ski.

I blame my Nordic Heritage.  And my parents.  They gave me that heritage.  (Although, I may have been switched at birth and my actual parents live in the Bahamas; a secret redheaded Nordic settlement on Nassau.)


  1. Rebecca Stanfel says:

    Wow! This piece (and the photo of your son) are great. I found your writing very evocative. I could feel the cold on the chairlift,as if I were next to you. It brought back my own childhood memories of skiing. I barely recovered from my parents’ discovery of their Nordic heritage. They developed a terrible love of cross-country skiing when we lived in Norway for 2 years when I was a little kids. This was in the days before Goretex and Polar fleece and waxless skis. We slogged through miles of snow in wool that quickly got wet and cold and puffy coats that made us look like a troupe of Michelin tire men. I hated it. A particular low point was when I was 9. We were back in the States, living in upstate New York. It was bad enough we had family ski nights going around (and around) the farmer’s snow-covered field across the street from our house, while the cows huddled together for warmth a scant foot from the “track” my Dad cut. But on “special” weekends we got to go ski the mens’ Olympic ski course in Lake Placid. Twice. I was thrilled when my parents next moved to Louisiana a few winters later. No snow, not even real fields. It was beyond my wildest hopes.

    My boyfriend (now husband) coaxed me into skiing again over a decade after near frostbite in New York. My face probably looked a lot like your son’s, as I clipped my boots into the rented ski bindings. I was thinking up some snarky thing to say…until I had a great time. It was like kissing my first love again (and with a new guy along for the ride! OK, that’s weird.) I loved the rush of cold air, the sharp sound of my skis as they rattled on hard-packed snow. But what made the experience perfect was being able to stop the second I wanted. Well, that and there being no half-frozen dairy cows out there too. And as many cups of hot chocolate as I saw fit. I haven’t inflicted too much skiing on my 8-year old yet. Wonder why?

    Thanks for such good writing that it jump-started my memory. And for your humor.


  2. I hear you, sistah. Was out on a mountain myself on Monday. I find skiing most insane before I actually get on the skis. Dressing up up in multiple layers (and still having some skin exposed… how does that happen???), then dragging all the equipment to a lift or a gondola while stomping around in impractically heavy ski boots, and, of course, getting to pay unbelievably high fees for the privilege. Those are the moments I ask myself what the hell I am doing.

    Once on top of the mountain, however, it’s a completely different story.

  3. Lori Dyan says:

    How timely…I’m about to force my son into lessons because I grew up skiing but haven’t gone since meeting my winter-sport-loathing husband. Skiing forevah!

  4. Never been skiing although I’ve been informed by the family that we are going. I doubt anything good can come of it except lots of laughter at my screams. Hmmm, I think I’ll make everyone watch the grizzly movie Frozen (about the skiers stuck for the weekend on a ski lift) just before we leave to even the skiing field a little!

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