Things I Always Forget on the First Day of Ski Season

First runs of the season!
Though living in Pennsylvania doesn't give me access to places like Revelstoke, British Columbia, Park City, Utah, or Jackson, Wyoming on a regular basis, any day on any mountain is better than a day not on a mountain at all. And lucky for me, we got a good bit of snow pretty early in the season this year. Early enough, in fact, that I got to kick of ski season the second week of December.

The fluffy stuff fell the entire day while we skied at Blue Mountain, making it an absolutely perfect way to remind myself how much I love being out on the mountain, any mountain. It seems, however, that no matter how many days of skiing I have under my belt, there are always a few things I forget.

How to time sitting down on the non-padded chairlifts - Most ski resorts have a variety of types of lifts depending on the terrain. The most common lifts include aerial lifts (chairlifts and gondolas, for example), surface lifts (J-bars, T-bars and the like). Most of the Pennsylvania resorts I've skied at use chairlifts for the majority of the runs, and the lifts we used at Blue Mountain on the first day are all attached. Attached lifts run at one speed, as opposed to detachable chairlifts. One of the two lifts we used for the majority of the day is a two-person attached lift with no padding on the seats; it took me a few runs to remember how to time sitting down and avoid getting smacked by the chair. Ouch.

How cold my hands get - Really, I always forget how cold everything  gets. Even after growing up in central New York and living in Alaska, I've adjusted to Philadelphia's milder climate, a fact I'm always reminded of the first day out. I had two thin layers under my Columbia Shimmer Flash jacket, which weren't enough, and didn't break out the hand warmers until midway through the day. From now on, the hand warmers go into my gloves as soon as I leave the lodge.
My first really big resort - Revelstoke - since learning to ski in Alaska, circa 2011. Such an amazing place!

The value of a neck gaiter - It was a balmy 20 degrees the day we decided to head to Blue Mountain and I was comfortable in the parking lot without a balaclava or neck gaiter. I zipped up my jacket, put on my helmet and goggles thinking I'd be good without neck protection. As soon as we got off the Challenger Express lift and started down the mountain, I realized there's no way I'll ever ski without a neck gaiter again. I put mine on as soon as we finished the first run.

How awesome it feels when you get your feet under you again - Despite the fact that I know all of my technique flaws are still there, it's amazing that no matter how long I go between ski days, my body never seems to forget what to do. Skiing really is like riding a bike, as the old adage goes, which I'm quite thankful for.

How much fun it is to go fast - When I first started skiing, I was incredibly tentative. I wasn't afraid to fall as much as I was afraid of what would happen if I couldn't stay in control of my speed. I imagined myself unable to stop, hurtling down Mount Alyeska outside of Anchorage, where I learned to ski, and right into the Turnagin Arm. As with other downhill-related sports like mountain biking, I've found that the more tentative you are, the more likely you are to fall. This year, I'm going to embrace speed a little more. "Fast," I find, is a relative term, but I'm going to try to tighten my turns and have faith that when I have to stop, I'll be able to!

Have you been out skiing yet this year? How many times? I know some readers who live out west have at least a few days out already! Do you ever forget things on your first day out each season? Leave a comment!

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