“Balance is the key,” says Mark, my ski instructor as I struggle to stay upright on my slippery skis. I’m having yet another lesson in how to ski properly. It’s a beautiful day at Wintergreen Resort—sunny, blue sky, sparkling snow, and surprisingly warm. And once again I’m trying to master the finer points of skiing. Actually, my main goal is simple: not to fall down.
No matter how many lessons I take, I still can’t get the hang of skiing. I’m just not very coordinated. And staying in balance? That’s a challenge for me in daily life, much less on the slopes.
I’ve been trying to ski for nearly two decades now. My husband, Peter, started skiing when he was young and fairly floats down the slopes. He and our son, Scott, who’s home on leave from Okinawa, have taken off to pursue more challenging trails, leaving me here with Mark on the “bunny slopes.”
Actually, we graduate pretty quickly to the green beginner slopes and, of course, I take a spill as I exit the lift—all arms and legs and elbows, slipping and sliding down the tiny hill. So much for balance.
Mark is patient however and reminds me of all the pointers I should already know by heart. For example, when you want to turn, you gently lean on your outside foot. But in the process of leaning on one foot, I forget to keep my knees bent, and my graceful little turn becomes anything but! It’s also hard for me to remember to lean forward, keeping my shin against the front of my boot. Somehow leaning forward while going downhill seems counterintuitive.
That’s my problem, you see. I think too much. Skiing is easy, Mark tells me. It’s just like dancing. You get a little rhythm going and relax and simply glide along the surface of the snow. Happily, today’s snow is about as perfect as it gets. Wintergreen’s snowmaking equipment is some of the most sophisticated in the U.S., and the powdery snow makes skiing easy.
Well, easy is a relative term. I think about my very first skiing attempt in Vermont one cold winter long ago—definitely not easy. The snow was icy, hard, and unforgiving. I fell a lot and was not happy. In fact, I took a day off from skiing and sat in the condo and ate bonbons while my family had fun playing in the snow. I’m not a quitter, though, so I tried again and only fell a few times the remainder of our stay.
Since then we’ve skied up and down the East Coast and even ventured out west once to Salt Lake City, Utah. I was shaking in my boots there. I’ll never forget the time my green beginner trail ended abruptly midway down the mountain, and the only way to get to the bottom was on a blue trail. Who the heck designed this, I wondered? I could see my husband and sons waiting for me at the trail’s end, but there was no way I was going to make it down this blue slope. So I undid my skis and trudged to the bottom in my ski boots, slipping and sliding and feeling like a loser.
By comparison, Wintergreen’s slopes are just my speed. There are plenty of challenging trails, too, but I am happy on the beginner slopes. In fact, after my lesson with Mark ends, I feel pretty good about my skiing. I don’t fall down once, including getting off the lift!
Later in the condo, Peter, Scott, and I are pleasantly tired—and ravenous. Luckily, I brought along a cooler full of groceries, so we enjoy a hearty meal of homemade chili. Wintergreen’s restaurants offer a delicious option when you’re too tired to cook. Devil’s Grill is the resort’s upscale dining venue and serves eclectic Americana fare—maple-glazed pork belly, anyone? We like the more casual Copper Mine Bistro—perfect for warming up and enjoying a bite when you’re on the slopes.
Speaking of warming up, the resort also has a lovely indoor pool, ideal for families. After a dip in the pool, Peter, Scott, and I decide to venture out into the frosty winter air for a soak in one of the outdoor hot tubs—seeking balance between extremes. Next I head to the sauna where I get an extra dose of heat. The resort offers yoga classes as well, and when I show up for a class, I’m the only student. The instructor graciously works one on one with me as we move through several poses. This is balance of a different kind.
The Spa at Wintergreen offers guests luxurious spa treatments designed to balance mind, body, and spirit. It’s an oasis of calm and offers seasonal treatments. This winter, for example, you can book the Hot Chocolate Indulgence. First, you’ll enjoy a rich cocoa sugar scrub that smells good enough to eat, followed by a cascading vichy shower. Finally, luxuriate in a full-body chocolate essential oil application. Warm stones placed on your back complete the experience.
The best part about Wintergreen is it’s just up the road a ways—less than four hours by car, perfect for a weekend getaway. Even better, take a day off and make it a three-day weekend. Life’s short, and we all need to work on our balance.
For more information, visit www.wintergreenresort.com.