About five years ago, I was living in Columbus, Ohio working at Ashley Furniture Homestore. That isn’t exactly relevant to this story, but it’s just where I was in my life. Several of my friends there in Columbus grew up in nearby Bellefontaine, Ohio, which happens to be the home of Ohio’s biggest ski resort(their words not mine), Mad River Mountain.
One Friday in December of that year they invited me to join them for an all-night session at the resort. I had never gone skiing or snowboarding before, but it seemed like a really fun time. I watched the snowboarding competitions in the X-Games and Winter Olympics at almost every opportunity as a kid. However, as someone who has had a spinal fusion to correct scoliosis, it was on the list of things I was not supposed to do. In 8th grade, I had the procedure done, and I distinctly remember Dr. Hoffman telling me, “no contact sports, no soccer, no football, and DEFINITELY no skiing or snowboarding.”
Me being the rambunctious little shit that I am, I threw that out the window at 16 when I first started playing soccer. I played for two seasons in high school, and since then have played at least once or twice per month since. Literally, whenever I have time, I try to play footy. I never have issues with my back these days so what does Dr. Hoffman know?
Anyway back to the story, against better judgment I joined them at Mad River that evening to get my feet wet in the snow. We made the short drive back to Bellefontaine and hit the resort. I started the evening off in a rental snowboard and several trips down the bunny slop listening to “Nothing Was the Same”- my favorite Drake album. After an hour or so my friends declared it was time to go up the main lift and get after it. So up we went. Upon my first ride down the slope, I fell more times than I can possibly remember. I spent far more time on my ass than I did actually riding the board. When we got back down to the bottom, my friends realized we had a dilemma. They didn’t want to spend their night babysitting me and not actually riding. So one of my friends made the suggestion that I swap out the board for a pair of skis.
There’s an old adage that ‘skiing is easier to learn but harder to master, and snowboarding is harder to learn, but easier to master”. I agreed to the swap and 20 minutes later I was back on the bunny slope in a set of skis. This felt far more natural to me. So after I decided I had conquered the bunny slope, I went back up the main lift and joined my friends. This time around, I was more confident and more capable in what I could do. I was actively figuring out the sport with relatively little instruction. This isn’t to say that I didn’t just magically stop falling over and wiping out, but I was enjoying the process of learning far more. As the night wore on, I felt so happy that I was essentially teaching myself how to do something I had never done before, and technically wasn’t supposed to do because of my back.
Eventually, the night came to an end, around 2 or 3 A.M. if memory serves me correctly, and we drove back to Columbus.
Sidenote- my buddy Garrett was a student at OSU at the time and drove an older car that had a sunroof. For whatever reason, he opened the sunroof on the way home and when he went to close it, it just wouldn’t close. So we had to drive for an hour back to Columbus with the sunroof wide open and it was probably under 20°. So thanks for that Garrett.
The next day at work, I was practically immobile. My body took a physical beating from the snowy icy ground. I felt like I had gone 12 rounds with a heavyweight, but I wasn’t throwing punches, I was just a live bodybag. I literally pulled out the wheelchair we had there at the furniture store and wheeled myself around all day because I couldn’t walk, (I could, I just wanted to amuse my coworkers).
Since then, I’ve been skiing every year and recently decided to start documenting my ski trips on my YouTube channel. In 2019 and 2020, I only made it skiing one time to Mad River both years. Last year, I took a trip up to Crystal Mountain in Michigan with a few friends in March. And back in January, I went to Keystone in Colorado with my friend Andrew. Going into the trip to Colorado, I thought it would be easy because I can kind of tear it up on the slopes here in the midwest. Boy was I dead wrong. That mountain taught me some lessons and beat the living hell out of me.
Since that trip, I’ve been to Mad River three times, and each time I’ve gone, it’s been with a mindset of finding a way to improve. To get better. And each time I left Mad River over the past month and a half, I believe wholeheartedly that I have improved.
Next Sunday, I’ll be out at Vail in Colorado to test myself and see if there has been measurable growth. I’m unbelievably excited to get out there and test myself again.
In the grand scheme of things, skiing has taught me that that’s what life is all about. Finding ways to improve yourself. Overcoming obstacles. It isn’t ever easy. But then again, neither is life. But that’s what makes life interesting. If life were a complete cakewalk, and you excelled at every single thing you did with no practice or effort, would it really be enjoyable?
Thank you so much for reading! I’m going to start blogging regularly again. The content itself will absolutely vary, but I still want to talk about footy because ultimately, that is where my heart lies. So stick around for the journey.