My First (And Probably Last) Time Skiing

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the most physically coordinated person out there. The only reason I’d ever turn on ESPN is to watch the spelling bee, or perhaps curling. Other than that, I’ll pass.

I’ve been to Dubai a countless number of times, and have always marveled at Ski Dubai, which is the indoor ski slope inside Mall Of The Emirates. Much like the rest of Dubai, the concept of the ski slope seems like it’s style over substance, but then again, it’s at least pretty cool. There’s something awesome about being in a winter wonderland when it’s over 100 degrees outside.

SkiDubai

So I took Ford to Mall Of The Emirates on Friday, and he decided we should ski. The price actually isn’t half bad — they charge 200AED (~$54) for two hours on the slopes, and that includes all the gear.

Ford thought it sounded like fun, and for that matter he has skied many times before. So who was I to say no? There’s only one issue — I’ve never skied before. I told Ford I was scared of making a fool of myself, though he assured me it would be fun. After all these are tiny slopes, and as he explained it, by putting my skis in a “pizza” shape, nothing could possibly go wrong.

I was sold!

So we headed to the ski slopes at around 11AM. While we had two hours of skiing, the process leading up to skiing took about an hour, as we got suited up.

I actually felt at ease as a result of this, because I saw huge groups of tourists getting suited up as well. I figured at least I wouldn’t be alone in not being an experienced skier. Beyond that, there were really young kids getting suited up as well.

There’s a chairlift which takes you to one of two “stations.” You can either start halfway up, or otherwise can start at the very top.

Ski-Dubai-2

Since it was my first time skiing, we started halfway up. I was feeling pretty good while on the ski lift looking down.

Not a single person had fallen, and there was even a group of four kids who must have been 6-7 years old at most, who were killing it.

Ski-Dubai-1

We got to the halfway point, and I was still sort of nervous. Ford assured me everything would be fine, and showed me how to make the “pizza” motion with my skis, which would slow me down. Since I was scared, I said I wanted to watch him go down once, and then I’d go down with him the second time.

He agreed, and off he went. A minute later he made it to the bottom. Given how easy it looked, I figured I’d impress him by going on my own. What could possibly go wrong?

I skied for roughly six seconds before I fell flat on my ass.

What proceeded was several minutes where I could have used one of those Life Alert monitors:

It’s great that Ford taught me the basics of skiing, but he didn’t teach me the basics of getting up after falling from skiing. Which if you’re as uncoordinated as I am, is probably more valuable.

After probably three minutes of trying to muster up the power to stand up, I finally made it. Only my skis were facing forward, so about two seconds after I was up I fell again. Crap!

Long story short, I fell a total of six times on the way down. I’d actually say I covered more distance on my rear than on my skis.

At this point I was feeling really discouraged and borderline humiliated, but Ford assured me it was a one-off, and that I’d do better next time!

So we went to the halfway point again, and this time Ford went down with me. Which was great, except for the fact that I fell five seconds after starting to ski again.

On the plus side, I only fell four times on my way down this time. I think Ford’s emotions were somewhere between laughing at me and feeling badly for me.

At this point I decided I was done skiing, and would instead limit my activity to using the lift. I figured I’d take the ski lift to the top and then back down, so that Ford could ski from the top. Sitting on the ski lift the entire time seemed more fun than waiting for him at the bottom of the slope.

Ski-Dubai-3

So we got to the very top, and Ford got off while I stayed on. The chairlift operator yelled at me and said I should get off. I figured he was confused, and assumed he thought I wanted to ski from the top but missed the “exit.” I said “oh no, I want to stay on, that’s fine.” So then he proceeded to stop the entire chairlift system to offload me, since apparently you’re not allowed to take the lift down with skis on. Oops!

Here’s the conversation that followed:

“You have to get off here. You can’t take the chairlift down.”
“I’d really prefer to take the chairlift down, though.”
“You can’t take the chairlift down with your skis.”
“But I don’t really know how to ski.”
“What do you mean? You have skis on.”
“Yeah… and I’m discovering I really don’t know how to ski.”

Apparently I had to wear “normal” shoes on the way down, only they didn’t have any extras in my size at the top. So then I had to stand there for 20 minutes waiting while someone else working there had to bring up a set of shoes.

That’s the point at which it all made sense to me. The hundreds of (mostly) Chinese and Indian guests in tour groups weren’t actually skiing, but had just paid to ride the lift around. They didn’t have skis on, but rather just shoes. Had I known that from the beginning, I might not have skied… and might not have been so confident in being able to do it all.

Bottom line

That was my first (and probably last) time skiing. I’m happy to go on another skiing adventure, though next time I’ll sit in the lodge sipping a hot, spiked beverage in front of the fireplace, while whomever I’m with can ski.

My ass is still sore from the number of times I fell, even four days later.

On the plus side, Ford had a nice time… I think.

Ski-Dubai-4

Comments

  1. The W Verbier is said to be good if you are looking for place to take Ford Lucky.

    Small tip, try hiring a skiing instructor or sign up for group lesson before hitting the slops the next time.

  2. “I’d actually say I covered more distance on my rear than on my skis.”

    Ha!

    “My ass is still sore from the number of times I fell, even four days later.”

    Double ha!

    😉

  3. What do you make of Singapore announcing service to New York in 2018? I just saw it on Instagram, and there were no other details. This could be a real story too. Thank you!!!

  4. My friends did that to me … I ended up shutting down the entire mountain (and causing a compound fracture on my friends leg).

  5. Probably the long range version of the A350 that was mentioned in media during summer, was said to start in 2018.

  6. Skiing for the first time is much more difficult than it looks, you should have definitely had at least a basic ski lesson before hitting the slope. But don’t give up so early, no-one can do everything without practice.

  7. You can’t really expect to be able to ski the first time, with no lessons. Falling over constantly is pretty much par for the course at first. Take a lesson and really learn how to ski – if you’re patient, you’ll find that the payoff is well worth it. Especially at a real ski resort in the Rockies or Alps, where the views are unparalleled.

  8. I echo the comments that you definitely should have signed up for a lesson. Having worked as a ski instructor, I never had a student that couldn’t make it up the lift, and ski down in control, after an hour’s lesson. It’s pretty much a coordination-proof sport; you can be the most uncoordinated person, and still do well. The secret is TAKE A LESSON from a certified instructor.

    So take Ford down to Santiago, and head up to Valle Nevado for a lesson. So many great miles destinations have world-class skiing, you’ll be able to impress Ford many times over.

  9. I will echo others and say a lesson is very important. And a good rule with lessons is to find someone who is NOT: 1) a close relative, 2) a romantic interest or spouse. More than anything this keeps the relationship intact.

    Peace out.

  10. I echo the many comments about taking a lesson. So many people go out on their own without a lesson, have a bad experience and then get discouraged. Skiing is such a fun activity–give it another shot but set yourself up for success with an instructor.

  11. LOL!!!!! I never laughed so much by reading your blog. Pizza and french fries!!! That is the basic of ski for kids. 🙂

  12. I grew up near a lot of great skiing but had never skied. My kids wanted to go so we got them into it but then they wanted me to go too. I didn’t get a lesson. Mistake #1. We went night skiing. Mistake #2. In early spring. Mistake #3. I made one run that night but my view of the starry sky was fantastic (from my back side as I laid on the slope). Icy spring night skiing was NOT the way to learn how to ski… But I’ll head back up the slopes again this year, this time I’ll hit ski school with my 6 year old. And I have to say that skiing outdoors is amazing, I can only imagine the blah indoor scene. Go stay in Park City during the Sundance Film Festival, ski in/ski out from the St Regis Deer Valley or the Hyatt Escala at the Canyons. Ski during the day and movie/movie star watch at night.

  13. I tried skiing one day (and almost one night) in PA. I varied between an impressive move turning an attempted stop into backwards skiing (some people mistook me for hot-dogging it) to a spectacular intentional wipe to save a group of little kids that had stopped in the trail right after a hairpin curve that I took too fast. Everything I had exploded out like in a hockey fight when equipment goes flying.

    When skiing backwards I also had to quickly figure how to do a backwards snowplow. When it came time for the night skiing the bar thankfully pulled me away to safety.

    I had a half hour lesson first, but that wasn’t enough (especially for the intermediate trail that my “friends” talked me into).

  14. Lucky, I was like you and went skiing for the first time with friends in Big Bear and was told to do the pizza to control my speed, and I naturally leaned back out of fear, resulting in falling on my butt a lot. I was scared of speed. It wasn’t fun and I got discouraged.
    Fast forward over a decade later to when I was in my late 20s and I took what ended up being three days of lessons with the professionals at Steamboat, and I learned that you can control your speed by leaning forward (shudder), keeping your skis parallel (shudder), but gradually turning back up the slope to slow down or stop (yay!), making wide serpentine curves, much like roads are built up a steep mountain. Once you change your mindset about how to be in control of your situation, you’ll be set up for success! (They also taught me how to get up after falling–position skis below yourself perpendicular to the direction of the slope, then push yourself upright.)
    Now, having both my feet strapped to a single board while going down an icy slope…I haven’t figured out that one yet 😛
    Good luck next time. You’re “lucky” so you’ll get it! And don’t forget to wear a helmet.

  15. Echo the others–pizza is conceptually simple but not really the right way to control going downhill. Get a lesson from an instructor, it’ll be revealing. Good instruction doesn’t actually take you uphill for the first half–they practice getting comfortable on the skis and moving around on them before you hit the bunny slopes.

    Also, try a real ski venue. There’s something about being in fresh air, with beautiful views of the mountains, that makes it worth it in a way that Ski Dubai never can (even though its novelty is definitely a real thing). You can always sit down and take a break there if you get tired and just take in the environment, and it’s pretty awesome.

  16. I love to ski but I would have hated that as my first experience. Quite shocked that your bf, knowing how to ski and knowing your fears, didn’t suggest/realise that a lesson would have been best. Takes all sorts, I suppose.

  17. Dang. Wish I had read this post a few hours earlier. I’m in Dubai right now. If I had known you could just ride the chair lift around, I would have done THAT. ;-). Maybe next time. I’m off to London in an Etihad First Class Apartment tomorrow. (Thanks for all the advice on your blog.)

  18. At least you made it to the ski slope. I managed to sprain my ankle in the parking lot before I got to ski. Agree, never again.

  19. Some people actually still say “peace out”???

    Take some lessons Lucky and you will soon enjoy skiing. It sounds easy, but just like water skiing, it ain’t when you first try it!

  20. It’s so much easier when you learn to ski as a kid. I’m completely comfortable on skis as I’ve been doing it since I was 10. However, I had a similar experience to yours when I tried snowboarding once in my late twenties. I borrowed my friend’s gear and just walked up from the bottom of the hill because I wasn’t comfortable doing a complete run. Even in that short distance I fell as many times as you did and I will probably never try snowboarding again. But I do love skiing!

    I’m usually stuck going on ski trips by myself because my friends have kids and can’t do anything fun anymore, so I’d be very happy to ski with Ford while you hang out in the lodge…

  21. Sounds fun!
    I saw your photos on Instagram;
    You both looked like you were having fun!
    Will have to try it someday, but will be sure to put cotton wool in my underwear 😛 😉

  22. Same experience at Squaw Valley 40+ years ago . “Come on we’ll show you how ” Fell down , fell down , fell down , fell down some more . At least my buddy taught me how to get back up . Funny now but , painful then . Never got back to it , which I regret . Years later took up cross country skiing . Slightly passed the beginner stage at that . Enjoyable to get out there !

  23. As a former ski industry “professional” and ski instructor I will echo the many previous comments: A lesson would have made all the difference. There’s a reason the very firs thing we teach a new skier is how to get up. You’re going to fall. Often. Might as well know the right way to get up. You’re also paying your instructor by the hour. Knowing how to recover from a fall will avoid wasting valuable minutes struggling and flailing in the snow while he stands there thinking, “Heh…they’re paying me $8.75 an hour for this.” I’ll let you in on a little secret that nobody in the industry will admit: the core concept of skiing is falling. When you learn how to ski you’re merely learning how to fall without ever hitting the ground. It’s that simple!

    I’ve heard many stories over the years that echo yours. People try skiing once, usually with a well intentioned friend, had a bad experience because they didn’t receive the proper training, and decide they’ll never do it again. I would encourage you to give it another try but this time hire an instructor. And go to a real mountain!
    Or don’t. You may find that you actually like it, and that’s a slippery slope (pun intended). All the gear, lift tickets, apré ski beverages…it all adds up. Fast!

    I find it more than a bit ironic that you lived in Seattle, with one of the best learning hills just 45 minutes away, yet your first on-snow experience was in a mall. In the desert! Now come to think of it that sounds so completely messed up I can’t not give it a try.

  24. Haha, Ben – I like the honesty of your blog. Next time you go for skiing (with ford), just rent ski blades instead of skier. They are a lot shorter and soooo much easier to handle for a first timer.

  25. I feel your pain Lucky! My hubby is a big time skier but not me. I took a lot of group lessons but didn’t help. I finally pony up and paid for private lessons and that made a big difference. I’m still not good at skiing but I can enjoy green slopes without fearing of death. Also, go to a real mountain with powder- much more fun than falling on ice!

  26. Ditto x25. Take a private lesson, give yourself a couple of days to learn, go somewhere uncrowded (deer valley, telluride are well groomed ).
    It really is worth it. I learned at age 30 (after a 4 hour experience in college very much like yours, after which I swore “never again”), and now, as a 56 year old out of shape, overweight woman, it’s my favorite sport.
    Give it a fair shot and get back on that horse what threw ya. ; )

  27. Is this blog going to be like million mile secrets now. We will have to listen cute stories of ford eveytime?

  28. ” I’m happy to go on another skiing adventure, though next time I’ll sit in the lodge sipping a hot, spiked beverage in front of the fireplace, while whomever I’m with can ski.”

    Aw man you sound so boring to hang out with 🙂

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