How I Was Reinvented As An Athlete.

Riding the rope. Harriet’s daughter Alison, 5, in leather boots and wooden skis on Jiminy Peak’s rope tow. Credit: Harriet Wallis

I learned to ski on a dare. Actually, it was a threat.

When my husband announced he was going to learn to ski, I gulped. I thought skiing was something crazy people in the other side of the world did, but not here in Connecticut.

“You’re going to do what?” I asked. “How are you going to learn to ski?”

“I read a learn-to-ski book, and I’m going to do it,” he said.

I was still processing that concept when he added, “And you can babysit the kids.”

I was being told to stay home and take care of the kids while he was going off to learn some stupid sport. That was the last straw.

“Whatever this ski-thing is, we’re all going to learn to ski,” I insisted. “You, me, and the kids.”

It was the early 70s and equipment was changing rapidly. Plastic boots were making a hit, and leather boots were cheap at ski swaps. We outfitted all four of us – boots, boot carriers, wooden skis, poles, and a few jackets – for under $100. Lessons got us started, and we spent many Saturdays practicing wedge turns from Jiminy Peak’s free rope tow. The sport was beginning to stick.

As for me, I didn’t know I was athletic until I learned to ski. I was in my 30s with two children. Back in high school gym class, I was always the last one picked when they chose teams. I wasn’t even chosen. I was the last one standing there and the gym teacher would say: “Harriet, go over to that team.”  I just wasn’t very good at team sports: volleyball, basketball, or softball. But when I learned to ski, I was reinvented as an athlete.

And that has stuck too.

One Comment

  1. Mary Hilton says:

    . I would love to ski with you at Alta for a day. Or maybe just a couple hours would be more appropriate. Today happens to be my 65th birthday, and I’m beginning to feel a bit ‘senior’! Well at least in my knees a little bit. To meet you in person would be an honor.

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