Everyone raved about the ski trips in Korea. Having lived in California my whole life I don’t even know how to walk in snow, much less strap large boards to my feet and propel myself forward in snow. But I let my friends persuade me to give it a try and I figured after teaching myself some moves on the bunny slopes I’d be “shreddin’ the gnar” in no time (since I obviously already had the lingo down).
Somebody told me skiing might be easier (than snowboarding) for my first time, so I clicked them on and waddled outside. Due to a series of miscommunications -cough, my friends totally ditched me, cough- I found myself alone on the snow, while the bitterly cold wind blasted snowfall horizontally into my face. I looked down at my feet. “Umm, go,” I told them.
I suddenly realized I didn’t have a single clue what to do. Was I supposed to move my legs one at a time, like skating? Or just leave them straight under me and push myself forward with the poles? But, for that matter, how did I use these dang poles? I kept running over them and then tripping, followed by inadvertently whacking a nearby stranger. And how did I stop?! For the time being I used a fence and innocent bystanders as brakes. The only thing anyone had told me about skiing was “pizza” and that turned out to be of very little use without context. I was a
In the midst of my antics my friends called to say they’d taken the lift up the mountain and I should come up, too. “Absolutely not,” I declared. “I have no idea how to do this. If I go up the mountain I’ll have to ski down it, and that would be a disaster.” They assured me there would be an easy way down and thirty minutes later I stood on top of the mountain, grumbling obscenities.
A couple of people attempted to teach me the basics, but I’m sure teaching a newbie was the last thing they wanted to be doing so I felt bad using their valuable slope time. For some reason, I could not master turning or stopping, which happen to be the two main components of skiing. Each time I started moving too fast the only way to stop myself was by falling; I would tumble forward, skis flying wildly over my head in a somersault, until I laid on the ground flailing around like a turtle on its shell, unable to get up.
I was getting nowhere, and eventually I’d had enough. I wanted to go back to the lodge and lose myself in a spiked hot chocolate by the warm fire, but due to ‘inclement weather’ (it was a blizzard, as far as I was concerned) the gondolas weren’t operating. I’d seen the snow patrol workers taking people down on snowmobiles so I figured I could get a ride with them. But when I went to the office, a group of six other foreigners in the same predicament as me were already there. The officer’s eyes widened at the sight of us and he immediately cried, “No!”
We begged and pleaded, but the employees were not to be cajoled. “You must walk down the mountain,” they said. “Walk?!” we sputtered. They looked at us serenely and nodded without an ounce of pity in their eyes, and unceremoniously closed the door in our faces. Accepting our fate, we hoisted our skis over our shoulders and began our descent along the side of the slope, hoping not to be mowed down by rogue skiers.
Have you ever carried skis down a snow covered mountain in a blizzard? No? Well, now that I can check it off my life experience list, I’ll tell you that it’s every bit as fun as it sounds. It was so fun that my tears of joy froze into little icicles on my sunglasses. It was such a party that I had to chug two beers before I could feel my hands and face again. I think it’s just one of those things that everyone should try at least once.
The next day, another girl and I said “screw skiing” and we spent the day taking photos that only made it look like we were skiing. With the sun shining we took the reopened gondolas to the top to enjoy the scenery. Then we returned down the mountain in the comfort and safety of our glass enclosed lift and agreed that this was our favorite part of skiing.
To be fair, for those who enjoy skiing/snowboarding, Korea offers some of the best slopes in the world. We traveled with Enjoy Korea and stayed at High One Ski Resort. The trip was well organized and the resort was very nice!
This article first appeared in Platform, Daegu’s newest magazine aimed at reconnecting the city’s residents with the everyday highlights Daegu has to offer. Read the April issue HERE