Blown Away

Recently I moved from Shiga Kogen to Sugadaira to become a ski instructor for a little while. Never mind the fact that I don’t really ski, the experience has been great. The first 3 days I had awesome kids who had already skied before. The temperature got up to 9 degrees (48 F), the guys always wanted to go for another run, and we had a lot of fun.

Then there was yesterday. The morning was still tolerable. I had my boys from the previous days and they didn’t complain too much about the -8 degree (16 F) weather. In the afternoon, however, we had a new school coming in and had to give our first lesson in freezing snow conditions. I was in charge of 7 Japanese Junior high girls who had never skied before… We put on their skies, skated around for a while, taught them how to get on the lift, then headed to the top.

Poor choice. At the top the wind was blowing like crazy. Since the temperature dropped so much, melted snow became solid ice. We took one ski off and skidded down the first part of the mountain, only to realize that the rest of the run was too dangerous to put beginners on. We ended up walking down the entire run, carrying our skies and stumbling on the slick ice. One girl complained that she was going to throw up, another kept falling, yet another moved at a snail’s pace and had to be carried down the mountain. At one point I was carrying 4 pairs of skies, could not feel any part of my face, and wiped out flat on my back. It felt like we were on an Everest expedition and making it out alive was the best part of the day. No one got to ski, all the girls were complaining, and I’m not sure what our lesson is going to be like today, but I suppose that’s part of the job