Skiing my first black run

If there’s one thing that really makes me happy despite the cold, it’s sunshine—and at my ski lesson yesterday, there was lots of it. After the past few snowy but grey days we’ve had, this was a welcome change. Considering this was my last ski lesson this winter, I was pretty stoked that I’d get to enjoy a nice bluebird day to end the season.

I was reunited with Ray, my ski instructor from last week. For this lesson, he decided it was a perfect day to head up the Crystal chair. Take advantage of the sunshine and the premium powder, not to mention the stunning scenery up top.

On the ride up, I could tell it was going to be a beautiful ski day. There was blue skies with hardly any cloud for miles and, because it was nearing the end of the season, hardly a soul skiing in sight. While on the Crystal, we were treated to a remarkable panorama of the mountains and valley around Sun Peaks. It was so clear you can see Lake Okanagan in the distance.

I took a quick snapshot at the top to capture the view. Then we headed down Crystal Run to warm up our legs. While the ski conditions down below were great, I can see why Ray wanted to ski higher up—the snow was in excellent condition for spring skiing. We were probably among the first to leave our tracks on the immaculate snow and fresh corduroys that day.

We picked up where we left off last week with the pedaling analogy. I also worked on mastering the correct posture—shins touching the front of the boots to keep the weight forward, knees slight bent, shoulders rounded. Ray said it helps to visualize holding a dime in your belly button.

After completing the warm up, we headed over to the Blue Line to ski along the snow ghosts. It was a remarkable experience. We’re very fortunate to ski such a postcard perfect run. After enjoying the view on the upper half, we worked on turn shapes and gaining more speed on the lower half of the run.

I found that the more confident I became with my skiing, the more I enjoyed the speed. At least now I know that I can slow down and stop when I want to. The ski lessons have given me the skills I need to do just that.

After Blue Line, Ray took me to another run I haven’t been on before. Before going down, he reminded me to make wide, rounded turns to regulate my speed. I looked down and hesitated for a second.

“This looks very steep Ray.”

But before fear could get the better of me, I went for it. The experience was like bungee jumping all over again. I followed Ray’s advice and fought the urge to change directions immediately before the turn was completed. Surprisingly, even though I gained quite a bit of speed while going down, I found myself slowing down at the end of the turn. Ski instructors have told me this before – “You will slow down eventually when you finish your turn”—but I never really listened. Now, I can actually say that they were right!

My head was swirling with adrenaline when I reached the bottom. Looking up at where we launched, I was so exhilarated that I made it down in one piece.

“Congratulations, you’ve just skied your first black run,” Ray said. Wow, my first black run!

This was definitely the icing on the cake and no better way to end the season. After that, we went back up and did Highway 22A (the name of the run) again. Because the snow ghosts were so lovely, we returned to Blue Line. Then we headed down 5 Mile, did a detour through The Other Way, and continued down 5 Mile to the village.

I promptly changed my Facebook status that evening to celebrate my achievement. A friend commented “I can’t believe it. You’ve surpassed me!” I thought to myself, “Neither could I.”

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