My mom and dad put me on skis when I was just a one-year old. My dad was super into the whole “start ’em when they’re young” thing…don’t ask…I have no idea why. Obviously they wouldn’t try it again until I was a bit older, which turned out to be of the earilest memories I’ve had. I was five years old, and my mom had a shoot with ESPN at Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah. I needed a babysitter for the weekend–which turned out to be getting stuck in private lessons from Heather, a young ski instructor. Now, think of it from my little girl perspective: my mom and dad totally ditched me with this woman I’ve never met, I had these long boards attached to my feet (which kept slipping from underneath me,) and not to mention I was absolutely freezing. Heather was so incredibly patient with me, trying to make me have actually have fun and learn something while I was miserable.
For the whole weekend, I had her to myself. Heather stayed right next to me, picked me up when I fell down, and gave me compliments left and right. She praised me on my effort, and not actually how I was skiing (because it was horrific.) She didn’t do it for her, she did it for me. She didn’t ski for me either; please–she had her own skis on.
Seventeen years later, knowing what I know now…that day changed my life. I was so small–and so young–in comparison to Heather. She knew way more than I knew about the sport, but loved me enough to spend one-on-one time with me. She taught me that those boards on my feet were not supposed to make me fall, but in reality, to help me strengthen my own legs and help me go even faster than regular running shoes–that I thought would be just fine to put on for the rest of my life.
For the next few years, I actually started to like to ski. We went skiing as a family almost every weekend, which were just good little joy-rides down the canyon. Over time, I tried to take more jumps and paths, and learned that the more time I spent crashing and falling, were the times that I learned how to get back up and ski even better and harder. Up until my senior year, I thought that’s pretty much how far you could enjoy skiing, just little side jumps and little trails through trees. Wow–how wrong I was. That last year of high school, my friends and I decided to grab a bunch of us and call ourselves the “ski club.” (We didn’t really have one, but the T-shirts made it official.) Weekly, we went up to The Canyons and went straight to the lift that literally had “EXPERTS ONLY” written at the bottom: 99’90. At first, my thought process was this, “Are you kidding me? I can’t do this. I like those blue squares. Can we go back to that?” But was I going to say that to my friends? Absolutely not. I just went with it. I learned how to suck it up, and started to really love it. After that year, I couldn’t just go on the paved runs anymore; it had to be pure, deep powder, or I didn’t learn a thing. I never get that rush of adrenaline if I didn’t push myself, which was the whole reason I went skiing in the first place.
I wish I could tell Heather now how much this sport has influenced my life. Not only have I become physically stronger from doing it, but from the relationships I’ve gained on the way. It takes a lot from learning how to actually get up on the mountain and put those skis on, to going all the way to learn how much my Heavenly Father throws us in situations. It doesn’t only guide me, it changes my perspective on just plain hard times. There is never a day when God leaves you in the dust. It might feel like it–only because we’re too young and inexperienced to understand what He’s doing. Just trust Him. He’s the ultimate ski instructor.