Maddie had a field trip last week to learn how to ski. It doesn't sound like the most "educational" field trip, but I'm pretty sure most of the local schools have them around the 6th grade to get kids learning this winter activity.
I agreed to chaperon if Tracy agreed to join me. I did not want to spend a day on the hill by myself. I'm no fool; I knew Maddie was going to want to hang with friends before she hung out with me all day.
Tracy and I hit the chair lifts and were able to start skiing once our duties were fulfilled in the chalet of making sure everyone had equipment. After that our job description was to watch over the hills and make sure everyone behaved on the way down.
Maddie had to have lessons first - a "quick" run-through of about 6 stations. Tracy and I popped in everyone few runs to see how she was progressing. I think in total she spent almost an hour out there learning the basics. After that we headed down with her and her friend for their first official run. We convinced them one of the hills was better than the others.
On the way up Maddie and her friend were nervous about their first time being on the chair lift. We tried to give them some instructions but they were impatient/nervous and just got on. We tried yelling last minute reminders as they approached (we were right behind them). They didn't hear us.
Useless anyway - once at the top they tried skiing off the lift. This is a no-no. You are supposed to just stand and let the chair push you off. So, KA-PLOP. Down they went. The chair lift guy was very nice and helped them get back up. They swore they weren't going to ride again, but we told them they'd be fine on the next ride up.
On the way down - well, it started great, but after two turns, they both lost a bit of control and pretty much bombed the hill. I took off trying to catch up to Maddie's friend to give instructions or at least be there when she wiped out. Tracy caught up with Maddie and tried to talk/yell her down, I believe. Both girls managed to make it to the bottom without incident. I couldn't believe that they didn't wipe out.
So, we made them get back on the chairlift. This time just as the girls reached the top of the chair lift, it had to stop. Their feet were literally dangling about 5 inches above the spot you exit. The chair lift guy was inside his box waving at them to stay still. Tracy noticed this and realized the girls thought he was waving them to jump off. Tracy started yelling at them to STAY PUT.....DON'T MOVE....
KA-PLOP. They chair lift guy got out again (giggling this time) and helped them up explaining he was trying to tell them to stay there. The second time down the hill resulted in similar experience as the first time, though we didn't try to catch up quite as much.
Then the girls took off - they were done with us and wanted lunch. Tracy and I grabbed a late lunch and got a couple runs in before the day ended.
However, we had decided to stay a little longer with Maddie and not send her back to school. That's when the real instructions began.
We took her up in the chair lift - after ASSURING her that she would not fall off, we would each grab a side and get her off. This worked great and we each guided an elbow talking her through it all. She stumbled a little, but probably more from us being in the way. Then we explained about turning and how to be a little more in control of her descent.
This went great until Maddie got about halfway down the hill - then she'd lose control and bomb the rest of it.
Two more times up the chairlift and Maddie wanted to go it alone and did beautifully. No stumbles, no falls and she even managed to stop before going over the other edge.
Maddie also skied a little better with each run when we were right with her. When we started to let her go more on her own without shouting instructions at her, she would take fewer turns and lose a bit of her control.
She did best me in one area - she jumped right into using the rope tow. I announced well before this day that I would not be going anywhere near that evil contraption. Maddie's first few attempts on the chair lift were graceful compared to me using a rope tow.
Tracy and I had a great day. While the hills here are just that - hills - it was still fun to get out and ski which I absolutely LOVE doing. We've decided that Tracy will accompany me on Jake's 6th grade outing and I'll be her guest when her three munchkins get to 6th grade. That's a guaranteed four more times of skiing for us (over the next eight or so years).
Hopefully the Murphy's will be skiing a little more in the nearer future. Maddie, Jake, AND Mike are going to start ski lessons this week. Maybe they'll get the skiing bug too, give me a few pointers, and we can head out as a family!