Editor’s note: Join Teewee Gal, Cecilie as she chronicles her journey learning to ski at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. She may be on Teewinot now but we can’t wait to see where she ends up.
It was the start of a new day, a new way of life, and opening weekend at the resort. I woke up Sunday morning feeling excited, nervous, and pretty scared. This is my first season skiing in Jackson, my first time exposed to true ski culture, but also my first time skiing, period. I’d heard horror stories of people getting in awful accidents on the terrain, or worse…couples breaking up due to the tense arguments that would ensue after full days of pressured skiing. What the hell was I getting myself into?!
Moving to Jackson four months ago was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my young adult years. I had visited over the Fourth of July and absolutely fell in love with the people, the sights, and the daily river floats with a beer in hand. It was then when I decided that I needed to make the move. After all, I had just spent seven years in Chicago working in the fashion industry, and having weekly bike rides on flat trails be my “way of getting outside”. So why not do the complete opposite and move to one of the most gorgeous mountain towns there are? After many long discussions with the boyfriend who had already moved to Jackson in the spring, we came up with a plan for the winter: lessons before boyfriends. Today, this has been the smartest decision we have made–ladies, please learn from this.
With months of preparation of getting my kit together, doing some damage at the ski swap, and making leg day a daily routine, I kept telling myself that everything was going to be okay. The day had finally arrived–my first lesson over opening weekend, and what everyone was calling a “fresh pow day”. It had been snowing copious amounts of soft fluffy snow..the best kind for skiing. My roommates woke up that day the same way I used to as a kid on Christmas morning: uncontrollable giggles, lots of squealing, and rushing to get snow pants on so I could play in the snow. Hearing of all the fresh snowfall, I was starting to realize that maybe it wouldn’t hurt that bad if I fell.
I found myself at the ski school’s front desk feeling like I had just been dropped off at my first day of kindergarten: I didn’t want to go with out my mommy. To my surprise, the front desk agent’s amazing customer service and willingness to calm my fears helped me start to feel relieved and eager to meet my instructor. I sat in a waiting area with other beginner skiers who all had the sheer look of panic across their faces..I was not alone. When 9:45 read across my phone’s screen, we all walked up the stairs to the entrance of the “Teewinot” lift. Many JHMR employees approached me with huge grins on their faces, assuming from the downpour of fresh pow, asking me my level and abilities with skiing. My answer? “I tried once before years ago in Wisconsin with low key panic attacks every time I reached a steep trail”. Giggling, they directed me to someone who they thought would be a perfect match.
The lesson started out with just the basic stuff, like how to put the skis on, how to hold your poles, and how to “pizza”. Our instructor, Gaen, has been instructing at the resort for over 20 years now, which basically means he’s a pro.. With how fearful and slow my group started out, I was amazed at how patient and lively he was with us the whole day. No matter how many times I forgot to “hold my lunch tray up” or when other ladies went full send down the Teewinot trails while forgetting everything they were just taught, he still made us feel safe and helped build up the thirst to go out and shred.
Towards the end of the day, improvements started to happen magically. My fear of falling had left, the pain in my shins disappeared, and all I had on my mind was the focus and the excitement as I went down the trails by myself with out our usual stopping points. Big accomplishments my first day? Learning how to link rhythmic parallel turns, and my favorite: hockey stops. Surprising myself after my first day, I realized that as long as you have someone you can trust and feel safe with, the possibilities are endless. First day was a success, but who knows what week two will hold for me.
Teewee gal, out.