Ski season is definitely done. This is my view from my computer today. Rain, fog, thunder, no snow left. I know everyone else seems ready for spring, but I could use a few more days of skiing.
This was a great ski season! No, it wasn’t the best snow year here in the lower Northeast. We did have some great snow, but we also had periods of warm temps and rain. So why was this a great season?
This year, we did something new. I usually buy us a weekday pass – as musicians, we’re both busier on the weekends when it’s crowded, so we only go during the week. The weekday passes are much cheaper, and I usually buy them in the spring when they’re cheapest. But this year, we tried a new (to us) program: Windham Mountain’s 50+ program.
Windham is our usual Catskill Mountain hill. For the past few years, they’ve offered a program for people 50 and older. It’s 8 weeks of 4-hour group lessons every Tuesday, plus a weekday pass. It was a good enough deal that I thought, even if we couldn’t make it to many of the lessons, it was worth it.
Great idea!! We had a blast. And learned a lot. The groups were all pretty small, around 4-5 people at most. We’d ski for a couple hours, break for lunch, then ski a couple more hours. Often, people would quit early and we’d end the day with just 1 or 2 in the group.
R and I went with different groups. I started in a more moderate group because I didn’t ski at all last year, and with a lingering shoulder injury, I wasn’t feeling very confident. So I dug in, doing drills and trying new things, but mostly on easier slopes. After a couple weeks of that, as I started feeling more confident, I joined another group. With that group, I continued with drills, but the drills progressed to harder and harder things, and we did them faster and on slightly harder terrain. For me, it was a great balance between skills and drills, and just skiing. My instructor, and the guys in my group, all pushed me, and I like to think I became a better skier. This is my group.
And because we had these lessons every week, we ended up skiing on days and in conditions we probably wouldn’t have otherwise. There were a couple of days of kind of crappy conditions – rainy or too warm and slushy – and we normally would have stayed home. But we went because we had a lesson. And ended up learning about skiing in weird conditions, and having fun. So even though this wasn’t an epic snow year, it was one of the best ski seasons I’ve had.
There were many things I loved about this program. First, obviously, is the skiing. Second, I started to feel just a little athletic again. After not being able to do very much running, no windsurfing, no climbing, not much of anything for more than a year because of a frozen shoulder, I no longer felt like an athlete. This got me a long way toward feeling back to normal again!
And finally, I love the idea of the program – older adults staying active, doing something they enjoy, and learning new things. There were people who just wanted to have some fun. Others, like me, who really wanted to learn and improve. I met a few people who were totally new to skiing – in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. One guy had been on skis for the first time in his life the week before the program started in January.
It’s this last thing that’s particularly special to me. I love that they have a program encouraging older adults to stay active and keep learning. OK, I admit to making some jokes about skiing with the old folks. And having a pass that said “Senior Program” on it did feel a little weird, because that’s just not how I think of myself. (but then I’d see someone in their 80s flying down a hill, a way better skier than me, and I wouldn’t care about any labels, I just wanted to ski like that.)
As a fitness trainer, besides my work with cancer survivors, I’ve also worked with clients with Parkinson’s, MS, partially disabled from accident, elderly, and even clients with dementia. Always, I strive to help people find ways to stay active, build strength, and have fun. Because I believe anyone, no matter their limitations, can move more and be healthier. Just because you’re sick, just because you’re old, just because you’re injured, doesn’t mean you can’t improve. It’s always possible to improve and to stay active.