Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Family That Skis Together

I’m not sure where in Colorado this was taken, but we were having fun!

When G-Man and I were first married, my folks took us skiing. They’d been the year before with the church and loved it, so they wanted to take their off-spring.

Since Dad had been once, he taught us so we could save what it would cost to take lessons.

After teaching us to bubble-hiney in order to make a turn, and cut a piece of pizza (“sit down on it, Susan!”) Dad thought we were ready to go for it. He pointed us toward the rope tow or easy-peasy lift. Our choice.

G-Man ignored the rope tow AND the easy-peasy lift and practiced on a small hill. He went up and down it until he could control his skis fairly well.

Determined I could do it, I wobble-kneed my way through the E-P lift line. When I saw that lift chair swinging toward me, I nearly panicked. I could just see the open chair taking off with me dangling from it by one arm, far above the snow-covered earth like a cartoon character.

So as it came toward us, I turned my back and closed my eyes. The chair hit me in the back of my knees and scooped me up as easy as Superman lifts Lois Lane. I even got off without falling in the middle of anyone.

That was the easy part. Getting to the bottom of the hill took a little more work. And a lot more time. But I made it without falling. 🙂 (My man, who fell several times that morning, tells me women have a lower center of gravity so they naturally fall less. I lovingly answer him, “Sour grapes.”)

After lunch (There might have been a quick nap with my head on the table during that lunch. Skiing is hard work!) we hit the slopes again, and I coerced G-Man into going on the E-P lift. We got pretty good at going up and down that baby hill.

The next day, we went to the top of the mountain. And like the wise adults we were, stayed on the easiest paths.

Brother Jeffrey and his buddy didn’t ski like G-Man and me. They took a three-step approach from the get-go.

  1. Go to the top of the highest mountain available.
  2. Point your ski tips toward the bottom.
  3. Go. For. It.

Zero to ninety in nothing flat. No fear. In fact, they rarely slowed down long enough to wave at friends or family unless we were at the bottom.

The last day of the ski vaca, Dad took us to the back side of the mountain. “Come on, you’ll love it. You’re good enough to do that.”

So, like lambs to the slaughter, we went.

To. The. Back. Side. Of. The. Mountain. (Duh-duh-dum!)

We took a lift, another lift, and then a long, scary, really high lift. And the we were in black, double diamond land. The steepest, deepest, hardest slopes in that part of the state were where we were.

Think of a tall waterfall, made of snow and we had to ski down it.

Gary’s early training on the baby hill stood him in good stead. I, on the other hand, prayed for a helicopter. When none came, I took off my skis and slid down on my hiney.


Ended up with a deep chill but no broken bones. 🙂

And our teachers?

When Mom skied, she was a little bit knock-kneed. Last year I saw a video of me skiing, and guess who I thought it was.

Mom. Knees and all.