Copper Mountain: My first time on skis

Last year, I became very curious about skiing. I had never been on skis before and I wanted to know how it would feel to have the mobility of two legs instead of being strapped into a single board. 

After six years of snowboarding, I also wanted to know what it felt like to glide off the chairs with your skis still strapped to your boots. I would find myself imagining not having to strap my right foot into the board after getting off the chair. I have Burton’s Step Ons, which make this process so much easier, but still…

Plus, I see old people skiing their asses off and thought maybe snowboarding isn’t going to be viable when I’m old and grey. 

So this past week, I finally shimmied, er, shoved my feet into some ski boots. 

I took a lesson at Copper with my cousin Jason. We were with the other group of adult first-timers. We looked like a bunch of tall kids, unsteady and unsure.

With pizza and french fries on my mind, we did a full day on the bunny slopes. 

Will snowboarding prove to be helpful on skis? 

I felt confident that my snowboarding skills would somehow help me master pizza and french fries much faster than other people in the class. It did and didn’t. 

It did because I was able to get a feel for edges and figured out pizza pretty quickly. It didn’t because it felt so foreign with my two legs separated on two individual, very slippery sticks. 

I also had a hard time carrying the skis and poles while waddling in my stiff ass boots. The left boot dug into my left shin all day no matter how much I loosened them. 

The skis were also surprisingly heavy. They kept slipping out of my mittens, which I realized were too small when I tried to grip the poles. Luckily, we ditched our poles for most of the day—they’re more of a danger or hindrance when you’re just learning.

The best bunny slopes ever

The bunnies at Copper are perfect for beginners. It’s a private section that has both the two-seater chairs and a Platter Bar. These bars terrified me, from my experience at an indoor ski resort when I was in Spain, years ago. I was on a snowboard and kept catching an edge and couldn’t make it up. I still remember the Spanish worker pantomiming to me and pointing to my left foot to make sure it was “Fuerte!” 

On skis, the Platter Bars are so much easier. I just made sure my skis were in french fry mode. I only fell once. 

The chairs are on the left and the Platter Bars are on the right.

After a few hours of Platter Bars and once on the chair, I wanted to sit down but realized when you’re on skis, there’s no sitting until you take the skis off. Sitting on a snowboard is so much easier. It dawned on me that the only people sitting on a mountain for breaks are snowboarders. 

I was careful not to pick up too much speed as I was going down the tiny hill. I mostly did pizza on the way down but felt my way through the edges and what happens when I put more weight on one leg vs. the other. This exploration of learning turns and stopping were so much fun. 

The simplicity of learning the basics

Learning to ski was humbling. It brought me back to my beginner days when I was snowboarding and couldn’t even stand up for longer than 30 seconds. On skis, I didn’t get a chance to explore the Copper’s vast blues and blacks like I did the previous week on my snowboard. 

But it was a nice change of pace to just work on stopping and doing slow “S” turns. I did pizza and french fries until I actually wanted pizza and french fries. My goal now is to practice so I can feel confident enough to graduate from the bunny slopes to the greens. 

I wonder if this will be the end of my snowboarding days?? We shall see…

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