Embrace winter, roller derby skater: You already know how to downhill ski

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I want every roller derby skater to know this: You can ski. Down-a-mountain ski.

I took a snowboarding lesson once. It was a miserable experience that left my face, bum and ego bruised. It was extraordinarily similar to climbing up a small hill, tying my feet together and then tumbling down the hill. 30 times.

A year later, I took a ski lesson.

It was one of the most fun things I did all year. And it was so easy. “Why didn’t anyone tell me about this?!” I found myself saying on my fourth trip on the ski lift that day — by myself.

So I’m here to tell you: If you know how to plow stop, you know how to ski. (Maybe not expertly, but enough to get started.)

I arrived at my local mountain and signed up for a beginner’s group lesson (it was $50 including rental skis and a lift ticket), but I was the only beginner. I overheard one instructor say to the other that he was going to teach me how to plow stop and then he will send me over to the intermediate group.

“I think I might know how to do that,” I told the instructors.

They told me to show them, and sure enough, it’s the exact same move. Which, yeah, is obvious; a lot of leagues even call that stop the “snow plow.” But what I didn’t know is that is all you need to know to be able to navigate down the easy green trails. If you have a good hockey stop: even better.

Once my instructor brought me through some weaving cones and helped me learn to get on the lift, it became clear that to ski down a mountain, you just use your left plow stop, then your right plow stop, then your left …. repeat. If you go to fast … you plow stop. Some little kids don’t even weave using their left and right stops, they just plow straight down the mountain. Which sounds like a lot more work.

The words I heard most during my lesson were, “stand up straighter. Use your hips less.” … but! …

Now, of course, to get good at skiing, you’ll need more than a left, right and full plow, but as someone who has suffered through years of miserable winters — while watching my slope-loving friends beam at the blizzarding forecasts — I just wanted to tell you that even if you’ve never tried it before: you’re already really good at skiing.

Enjoy the snow.
Enjoy the snow.