Snow Sunday: The First Arc

As parents, we’re supposed to document it all. Her first word, her first tooth, her first step, and if you’re a former ski racer: her first arc.

That’s right. The first time she actually arcs her ski using legitimate shin-to-tongue, front-of-the-boot pressure, angulation and the entire ski, tip to tail. It’s no easy feat and takes years of ridiculous patience and prodding.

Those of us crazy enough to care, know the process well. We invested a year on the Magic Carpet and hundreds of dollars in hot cocoa and hot dogs. Then, finally we graduated to Lift One and the reins –that ingenious contraption in which your child skis on a harness in front of you as you ski behind her, literally reining in her speed. Genius, until your child falls in front of you and you almost run her over. It’s either that or speed tackling her as she skis rein-less toward the broad side of one of the stone bridges on Lift Ten. I’ve done both.


Then the day comes. Your child graduates from the reins and she’s skiing independently. You’re so proud, until you realize that you just traded in your days on Lift Nine for the Enchanted Forest, which you formerly never knew existed. Before long, you know the secret fort, all of the faces on the trees, and every divergent trail.


In three years, you’ve finally made it to Lift Four and you are so thankful that you are in emergency distance to the Saloon at Goronno’s. You learn of runs you never knew existed like Narnia and you realize why you never knew it existed —because unless you are four feet and fifty pounds, it’s impossible to get through.

And through all of this, you realize, your child really isn’t getting much better at skiing. She resorts to the power wedge, her legs are stiff, she’s in the backseat, and since she got poles, she skis with her arms outstretched like a pterodactyl. Yet, you keep taking her. And, you even believe your encouragement (aka over-coaching) is working.

You were once a ski racer after all; you’re warped. You did box jumps before crossfit made them trendy; you grew up idolizing Ingemar Stenmark, Pirmin Zurbriggen and Alberto Tomba; and no matter how many new-school, ski movies you see, you’ll never understand why these damn kids ski with their hands at their heels. You still tune your skis (actually bevel them, two degree base, one degree side), unbuckle your boots on the lift, and never have warm toes.

You keep pushing and slowly, your kid skis Gold Hill. No I mean it—she skis it slowly and upright. You think how much easier it would be if she’d just bend her knees. But, she skis it and then her first Mak’m. You’ve never bragged about her reading group or early mastery of multiplication, but you send a picture to Grandma and mention it at Oak.

The next year, you’re hiking Palmyra Ridge to Mountain Quail and then to Baldy. You notice she’s starting to take it down the fall line. She actually skis decent when she skis with her friends, and when she starts going through the Nastar course, you catch her getting forward in her turn, actually pressing her shin against the tongue of her boot.


Then one day (November 30, 2014) she actually arcs the ski. You hear the whoosh, you see the division between the upper and lower body, and you see the ski arc, tip to tail.

She keeps skiing, faster. You? You’re back on Lift One with her younger sister, cursing those damn reins. Then, you remember that first arc. You smile and head to the Enchanted Forest.












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