On Wednesday I received a text from Dave, "Eric and I are skiing at Seven Springs tomorrow." Which translated means, "Reschedule all your appointments - it's time to hit the slopes!"
I posted earlier how I started snow skiing this winter with my daughter at the local hill and we've been having a blast. There are basically three places you can ski in NE Ohio, Boston Mills, Brandywine and Alpine Hills. They're all pretty tame and a good place for beginners like my daughter and I to start. If you're looking to upgrade your ski experience with less than a days drive, you can hit Peak N' Peak or Holiday Valley in NY, Seven Springs in PA or Snowshoe in WVa.
I've skied Peak N' Peak before and remember having a good time once I learned how to turn and control my speed. I was even being able to hit some Black Diamonds, so I figured with 5 days of skiing under my belt and even a few lessons, I would be good to go at Seven Springs.
Yeah...you know how this one is going to turn out.
Thursday morning I kept to my workout and got the gym at 5:30 and did a 30 minute kettlebell routine. I was at Eric's at 6:25 and we left to pick up Dave at 7:00. We then drove the remaining 2+ hours east to the Donegal exit on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I rented some skis and we were on our first chair lift around 10:30.
I explained to Dave and Eric repeatedly, "Hey guys, don't wait up for me. I know you want to do your moguls and all that...I'm going to hit some Green's and Blue's and just try and get better today." Being the true ski buddies that they are, Dave and Eric agreed to hang with me and introduce me to the mountain. Yep, true ski buddies...
We took the Polar Express Life up and started down Lost Boy trail (Green), which was easy enough, but then Dave and Eric decided to break off the trail and hit the Freestyle Terrain trail that ran parallel to Lost Boy.
Not knowing where I was going, I of course followed and started going over a series of shorter but fairly steep hills where you build up speed on the way down without even trying. Did I mention this was the first run of the day? And did I mention there were ramps (jumps) at the top of each of these hills? Yep, true ski buddies...
With the flat, low light it was tough to see the jumps at the top of each hill. Not knowing that there were jumps on every hill, I nearly went freestyle over one only to catch myself right before the crest of the hill and made a quick flops to avoid disaster.
I made it down, barely...
Next we took the North Face Lift up and then cut over to the Giant Steps Slope - a Black Diamond. Did I say I went down a Black at Peak N' Peak? It didn't seem this high. This is where Eric was a true ski buddy. He had been a ski instructor for years at Boston Mills and the guy just dances on his snow skis. He waited for me and coached me on the way down the hill. A true ski buddy...
What's interesting is that the technique he was showing me was really the exact same technique they were teaching us on the Blue's Boston Mills; which is the same thing we say about going from 30mph to 34mph, from 15off to 28off on the water!
Even though I took my share of falls, there were a few Blue and Black hills that I went down gingerly that I felt like could have handled with no issues had I did them a couple of times. Eric said that Peak N' Peak was not nearly as hard as Seven Springs, so all-in-all I felt good with my performance.
Anyway, I made it down and we took the Gunnar Lift up and the Lost Girl (Green) back down. Lost Girl was probably my favorite trail of the day. It's really long, narrow and has the potential to give you some good speed.
At the end of the trail there is a long straight shoot where you can just kind of hold your position and ride it out to the lift. Well on one occasion Dave goes blowing by me in a tucked position...I stepped on the gas and tried to stay with him. I was doing fine until I got this sensation that I was floating and no longer riding on my skis. I had no control and I knew it. I could feel my core muscles in my upper body firing non-stop to keep my balance. What a rush!
I eventually slowed and approached the lift unharmed. There's probably a 50 yard stretch from the end of the trail to the lift that you have get to cross country style. I was feeling good, pumping those skis and poles ready to celebrate with Dave...until my edge caught and I fell. Doh!
I could have spent the whole day here, but after 4 runs, we decided to make our way back over to Front Face and hit some other trails.
Here Dave and Eric spent the rest of the day going down moguls at Goosebumps Slope and I went down Boomerang and Corkscrew. Corkscrew proved to be a good challenge for me that I was never quite able to master. I could handle the top OK, but the bottom is where the trail really gets its name. The trails would require some tight, controlled turns while going down a fairly sharp decline.
Later, on what turned out to be my second to last ride of the day, I tried to take the full Corkscrew trail - instead of popping out early onto the bottom of Goosebumps - and it just beat the heck of me. I must have fell 5 times in that 100 ft. section alone. I was tired. I was done. One more ride for me, then I headed back to the lodge before I made a mistake to cause an injury.
What a day! The weather was perfect and the slopes were basically empty of people. With the exception of Lost Girl and Gunnar, I was going down trails by myself every time. On the way home we stopped in Irwin, PA to get some pizza at Vincent's Pizza Park - which was exceptional!
I've got a nice bruise on my hip and my elbow from a couple of falls. I pulled into my driveway at 9 p.m. - which made for a long and exhausting day, but it was as much fun as I've had all winter.