A Flatlander Skiing Wintergreen, Virginia

When I posted a picture from the top of the slopes on Facebook, my jaded West Coast friends responded with ridicule and words like “bunny hill” and a definition of “slope.”

In Your Bucket Because…

  • It’s good for learning — or re-learning — snow sports skills.
  • There’s a spa for apres-ski aches.
  • Great for families and skiiers of all levels

Okay, so it was only Wintergreen Resort in the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains, maximum height 3,200 feet. But for me – a Florida flatlander who hadn’t donned skis for more than 18 years — “daunting” was the word that came to mind.

First view of the slopes

First view of the slopes (image by Aaron Walton)

I was in my 30s the last time. My husband, too. My son was 4. So why did the latter two think they could just jump on a snowboard after all that time? For my part, I was severely doubting I could even stand up on snow and ice, something I had not done for a few years.

I actually avoid snow, ice, and cold religiously, but it was my brother-in-law’s 60th birthday in March 2013. He lives in Richmond, Virginia. He wanted to ski. So we packed up about a dozen of us – we two couples and the 20-something-year-old kids and friends, who couldn’t wait. They hit the hills the night we arrived, taking along my son Aaron for his snowboard initiation.

Wintergreen Accommodations

We had rented a five-bedroom condo at the top of the mountain, and the wind was rattling the windows when the kids hopped aboard the shuttle to the lodge. We parents contented ourselves with a fire in the fireplace and cocktails as we prepared dinner.

Aaron returned frustrated, as his cousins had predicted, but ready to try on the morrow. My sister-in-law, Julie, once more tried to talk herself out of skiing with me the next day. (Last time she had skied was with me, those 18 long years ago.) Husband Rob remained determined to snowboard, which brought a certain glee to son Aaron’s eyes.

Next morning, the experienced snowboarders got out on the slopes surprisingly early considering the beer cans we picked up in their wake. Aaron lagged behind. We couldn’t decide if that was because he wanted to stick with us greenies or watch his dad fall down as much as he had the previous evening.

Skiing the Slopes

He did get that latter opportunity. Julie and I skated off when we heard Aaron instructing Rob on equipment and Rob saying “That’s not right! My feet can’t go that way.”

I got the falling down out of the way immediately. Softly. Nothing hurt. I didn’t bounce like I did 18 years ago, and after finally pushing my way erect, I promptly decided I would fall no more. And I didn’t.

It all came back, that month of college interim sessions my friends and I had “studied” in Minnesota learning to ski. It actually got to be fun. After three runs, Julie and I decided we deserved a bar break. Rob had already forsaken his snowboard and was ready to trade in for skis, so he met us there.

One glass of wine under my belt, and I found Aaron, who told me “I feel like I know what I’m doing!” Julie and I were going to do only one more run, but the kids started skiing with us, taking us down different slopes, egging us on to keep going. And we did. That driving need to do just one more run — and then another — added up to a great day on the mountain.

Aaron (right), happy to be upright  - with cousin Alec.

Aaron (right), happy to be upright – with cousin Alec.

The party that night was joyous. The four-story condo – perfect with room for everyone to get together or apart — shook with merriment rather than wind. There was puzzle-making and Yahtzee, lasagna and the suspect skunky scent of 20-year-olds partying from their third floor lair. There was also the news of an incoming 8 inches of snow arriving by nightfall the next day, which meant we had to get off the mountain earlier than planned.

The Walton boys and their friends skied again in the morning, and then we were off to Richmond, all a-chatter with the re-remembered exhilaration that comes from schussing down a mountain. Julie thanked me for forcing her to go out with me. Aaron is ready to go again. Rob is still thinking he can lick snowboarding if he tries once more. Me? I’m already looking into our next family reunion — in Colorado.

Practicalities

A full-service destination resort, Wintergreen Resort (855-699-1858)  offers winter snow sports plus golfing for warm-weather visitors. Its accommodations include 300 villa-style condominiums and rental homes, from studio suites to seven-bedroom homes, with a fully equipped kitchen and living area – most with fireplaces and a balcony or deck.

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