Joel Reichenberger: Skiing with women a learning experience
There’s nothing like preparing to go skiing with a bunch of women to build up a guy’s confidence.
Before writing a story last week about the Women’s Skiing Seminars at the Steamboat Ski Area, I talked to instructor Gretchen Sehler.
“Women who are moms and have to be responsible can’t get hurt,” she said, explaining the difference between the way many men and women approach a day on Mount Werner. “Women have a tendency to listen a little better, where guys are more competitive and all about beating you to the bottom.
“Our class allows women to focus a little more without the pressure to perform in front of boyfriends or husbands.”
This all led up to a morning when I was scheduled to go skiing with the group.
Maybe I am a lot faster than them, I thought as I loaded onto the gondola bright and early the next morning.
Maybe they will be in awe of my sweet skills and my fearless approach to the mountain.
OK, I didn’t really think quite all of that. And what confidence Sehler had inspired in me was squashed for good late in my three-hour ski with the women.
The myth of my invincibility was shattered before the women accompanying me even were winded.
I was standing ahead of the group, having gathered most of my photos and interviews, when instructor Kathy Gayer skidded to a stop right next to me.
“Hey, I wanted to give you some tips,” she said. “Wait, your boots are coming undone.”
My boots? They’re fine, I thought, glancing down and checking to be sure all the buckles were buckled.
“No, no. Look, your Velcro came off.”
As it turns out, the Velcro straps I previously had used only to haul my boots to and from my apartment are really supposed to wrap around the boot and pull the upper portion of it tight around the leg.
I often have Velcroed the strap to itself, then left it dangling in my wake. It made a nice calling card, I thought, marking my territory as I went. It’s hard to say how many days I would have skied under that foolish impression had Gayer not taken the time to point out my mistake.
“Wow. You do alright for having never put your boots on right,” she said.
I’ll take that as a compliment. By that point in the day, however, I already had spent several hours lugging after the women of the clinic.
Maybe Sehler and others who explained to me how different men and women ski were right. By the end of the day, I knew those women skied awfully well. As for me? Well, I couldn’t even put on my boots.
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