Ski Diaries

From the time our children Mikos and Sonja were in early grammar school, they were skiing. I have never liked this sport or any sport for that matter, so my experience with skiing was always a new adventure. Before Mike and I were married we went on a  skiing date. I wore jeans and borrowed a pair of my mother’s leather gloves to protect my hands. As I was a novice, this experience was a series of falls, wet jeans and freezing hands. This sports trauma never changed; year after year we skied, and year after year I was still a beginner.

Sonja, 7 years old
Mikos, 4 years old

We had this fully loaded blue van that we named Vanna. Vanna weathered many annual trips to Utah and Mammoth Lakes. Utah was our base for skiing. Deer Valley was our favorite and back in the 90’s the lift tickets cost was a whopping $35. We worked hard selling Christmas masa (raw corn flour for making tamales) from our tortilla factory, and used this money to supplement our ski trips.

We stayed in Salt Lake City and drove the half hour up the hill to ski. Skiing was like getting ready for work, Mike and Mikos loaded up all the ski gear while Sonja and I got ready.  Once we arrived, Mike handed  over my heavy skis. I would lift the K-2’s over my shoulder and they would always split apart. I was a hazard even before putting on my skis. As I kept forgetting how long skis were, people would dodge my approach when I turned.

Mike purchased the tickets, making sure that we fastened them to our jackets, and then he had to deal with me. I could never buckle my boots and this became part of Mike’s daily ski routine. The boots were so bulky and uncomfortable that when the last buckle around my ankle was secured, I wanted to scream. It took several attempts to get this right and Mike was always the one to do it. It was no wonder that he was in a solemn mood by the time he got on the lifts.

The chair lifts were another hazard, and I was always in prayer that my ride up the hill  would be safe.  One time, the chair lift operator helped me on, he accidentally stepped on my ski and it fell off. As the chair went up I looked back in horror as my right  ski was at the bottom by the chair lift. Getting off a chair lift was already a challenge and now having only one ski added to my stress. It was the longest lift ride so I had plenty of time to plan the exit strategies off the chair. I remembered that it was a snowy day but I was was sweating profusely. Setting next to a stranger filled with useless advice just added to my impending fall. “Is it my balance that makes me fall?” I asked myself. My mind was running wild with ways to get off the chair without causing a dog pile. Finally the last jerk on the lift before the exit, and I told the stranger to steer clear of me (at that point I had not decided if I was going right, left or straight). With my left foot securely in the boot attached to the ski, and poles in my left hand, I scooted to the edge of chair lift. As if a pair of winged angels gently guided me in slow motion, I made it off safely and then I fell.  A few chair lifts behind was a man carrying the lone ski, I quickly put it on and skied to the lodge for some much deserved hot chocolate.

Back in the 90’s the tickets were punched to see how many runs you accomplished. To me, it was a bragging right and I wanted nothing to do with it. Mike on the other hand saw this as an investment, and he was going to make sure that we were getting our money’s worth. A stern reprimand followed when he found out that by lunch time I had only two runs. I reluctantly agreed to ski the rest of the afternoon.

Sonja was my ski partner but she quickly advanced, so I was the lonely skier of the family. Mikos and Mike were advanced skiers and never had the patience for me. My family would ride up with me on the chair lifts and then disappear. I once took a wrong turn on a pretty steep hill and the only way down was to ski. Remember the  MC Hammer song, “That’s Why We Pray”? Remembering the song is the reason I am still alive today. Traverse, snow plow across the wide mountain, fall, get up and repeat while singing MC Hammer’s song. This was my biggest ski accomplishment on a black diamond run (most difficult) and it was done without a single family member witnessing. This story will forever go down as a rumor industriously spread by none other than myself, but God is my witness, and it took almost half of the afternoon to get back to the lodge.

In the 20 years of skiing I have so many fond memories of family bonding. Both Mikos and Sonja have continued with the family tradition of skiing and believe it or not, Mike is still a great skier. Not me, I gave it up.


“He says to the snow, Fall on the earth,” and to the rain shower, “Be mighty and downpour.” Job 37:6


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