What Goes Up Must Come Down. That’s What Scares Me.

I have a confession to make.

I am terrified of skiing.

I have been afraid of it for as long as I remember. In fact, I vaguely remember being invited by my uncle and cousins (avid skiers) to go along with them when I was a youngster, and the thought of it paralyzed me so I stayed home.

It’s a weird fear to have, I admit it. It doesn’t seem anything like “I’m afraid of spiders” (I’m not) or “I’m afraid of zombies” (Uh, yep!): those are commonly expressed fears. NORMAL fears.

I’ve always been afraid of heights, and even though I conquer that fear for about an hour each and every time I head up to the 103rd floor of the Sears Tower to visit Skydeck Chicago and the Ledge, you will not catch me jumping out of a plane or bungee-jumping anytime soon, trust in that. I don’t even like climbing ladders. Fear of heights? Normal.

Lastly (for the purposes of this post, anyway), although I’m better at it than I used to be, I have always been afraid of public speaking. Years of teaching spin classes helped me calm down a little bit; in fact, put me in spandex clothing with a headset microphone and I’ll speak to a whole stadium full of people. Dress me up in business casual and put me on stage as an expert? I’ll be shaking in my boots, thank you very much. (For some reason, taking the stage for LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER doesn’t scare me at all; in fact I’m quite comfortable. I think this has something to do with the fact that just about everything related to LTYM is magical in some way for me.) Fear of public speaking? Normal.

Skiing? Weird.

Why am I so scared, and why have I been scared since I was a kid? I’ll answer those two questions in reverse order.

(I could have edited that sentence and reversed the order before answering them in order, but that wouldn’t be as entertaining for me as imagining you smiling and shaking your head at me while you read this very long sentence.)

When I was a kid, I had two kinds of from-afar exposure to skiing. One was the Olympics. The other was Skiing for Intellivision, the video game console with which we spent hours and hours (and hours). What they had in common was skiers barreling down enormous mountains and tall ski jumps at breakneck speeds. Well, Intellivision not so much “breakneck speeds*”:

It wasn’t the speed–or lack thereof, ahem INTELLIVISION–that scared me as much as it was when the skiers fell down. You have probably all seen an Olympic skier crash and burn. It’s ugly and sometimes takes them out of the competition. Intellivision skiers have pretty messy falls, too.

In fact, I’m guessing that you probably got so drowsy watching those Intellivision skiers meander down those mountains that you stopped the video before one of them fell so in that case I’m going to have to ask you to go back and fast-forward to 1:33 with the volume up, Missy.

Hear that sound? THAT is the sound that broken bones have made in my imagination since I was a kid.

As an adult, I have added an extra layer of fear onto that fairly irrational one. Because I am bigger in size than when I was a kid, I know a fall is going to hurt even more. I mean, OUCH. Truly. A bad fall would also prevent my being able to do my workouts–not more skiing, I’m talking about the workouts I love.

Who says I wouldn’t love skiing? My fear does.

If Oprah were here, she would look at me with her sympathetic eyes, touch my arm while asking questions about what I think I need to do to get over this fear and then probably bring Iyanla out to help me fix my life.

This is the part of the post where I have to provide a non-disclosure disclosure. This is NOT a sponsored post by any means, as in I am getting nothing (but love) for writing it. What inspired me to write about my fear of skiing was meeting up with some friends who work at Vail Resorts (you may have heard of some of their resorts: Breckenridge, Keystone, Beaver Creek…) and finding out that they have acquired–and are renovating–two new properties in the Midwest for beginning skiers, Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan. I was told that these two resorts, which have both been in existence for more than fifty years, are getting snowmaking improvements, terrain improvements, new guest services facilities, and all kinds of other renovations that I don’t appreciate fully as a NON-skier but can imagine would be absolutely fantastic if I were, not to mention the inclusion of these two resorts in the Vail Resorts Epic Pass (a season pass for all of their facilities which, if I were a skier, would save me TONS of money.)

Which brings me to the part of the conversation I was having with my Vail Resorts friends where they said, “Have you ever skied?” and I had to look down in shame (but mostly embarrassment because I knew my “no” along with #sadface would encourage them to ask “WHY?”, and it did).

I managed to blurt out something about how I’m just afraid of learning to ski because in my head I picture my first lesson taking place at the summit of a Black Diamond slope and they all laughed, but not in a “making fun of Melisa” way, more in a “Oh no no no, Sweetie, that’s not how it works” way.

Basically, when one learns to ski it’s normally on what one calls a Bunny Hill, which I think we can all agree sounds happier, friendlier, and way less menacing than that cruel, slick Black Diamond.

They told me that Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton (both using the tagline, “Where Epic Begins!”) are fantastic Midwestern training grounds for the big leagues, and I should visit them sometime.

After talking about the Bunny Hill versus the Black Diamond for a few minutes and then realizing that both Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton are within driving distance from my house, I actually thought that I might like to try it sometime. I mean, a fall on a Bunny Hill doesn’t even really sound painful. I bet I’d laugh my head off if I were to fall, or, let’s face it, there’s no “if” about it. But it would be funny! And fun!

Me! A skier! I can imagine possibly trying it! Maybe! (No, seriously. I think I might! At Mt. Brighton, because it’s close and I think I hear their Bunny Hills calling me!)

And we didn’t even need to call in Oprah OR Iyanla. Hallelujah. I bet they’re busy, anyway.

Now I need to find another irrational fear that I can cling to for the next forty or so years. Any suggestions?



  • Kari

    Ok so I had Atari Skiing and it was even worse than that.
    Think little lines going down a blank screen.
    With an occasional “pine tree”.

    I have skied since I was in 8th grade.
    I even taught five of my friends to ski.

    So if you are going skiing, it is with me.

    OMG lets do a blogger ski event?!?!?!?!
    AKA- sit in the lodge, drink spiked hot cocoa and giggle at the snowsuits.

  • Liz

    I went skiing, once: a friend of mine took me on what she insisted was “a beginner hill”, but the nice ski patrol people were kind enough to inform me that I had taken my first (and last) spill on “an expert trail” and, well, my friend?!? She and I are not friends, anymore. I will be happy to root you on, tho. From the lodge. With a warm beverage or cold drink, whatever, I’m easy.

  • Sally

    I can’t believe that your good friend Sue hasn’t chimed in here! I’ll bet she could teach you AND outfit you also. 🙂

  • Sylvia Joy

    OK your Uncle and cousins, did take me skiing once and we did go down the Bunny Hill after a teacher showed me a few things. I did like the ride up to the top.

    Your Uncle (my brother) said he and Richard would go basically back words down the Bunny Hill in front of me but that did not last long and I was going down alone with people going around me. I do have to say I stayed up all the way down the hill. But once down I told they I would never do that again and went off to the lodge.

    You may like it if you go with someone who will stick with you.

    Good Luck
    Grandma W