Through the eyes of a child

By Merisa J. Sherman

“The next challenge,” I yelled out, “is to see who can stand on one foot the longest!”

The kids all scrambled into position, making sure they had just enough room to flail their arms as they were going down. It was a tight space, but not a single one of them was going to put themselves at the known disadvantage of not being able to wiggle when their little bodies needed the extra oomph to be the winner.

After two months of program, they are actually getting pretty damn good at this contest, as one little one explains how their hip is starting to get tired and they can feel the burn. But they keep trying to hold on, waiting until one of the coaches gives up on the challenge first. There’s only much attention a grownup can give to a one legged contest.

But the kids hold on, waving like trees in the breeze and as they start to drop, you can hear the cheers from the the crowd as they start to draw attention to themselves. They are very good at that — both fighting through a challenge and having grownups stare at them while they are doing it. They love it. Especially when we are causing chaos in the liftline with stationary balance exercises.

If you had asked my sister and I what our favorite chairlift was when we were little, we would, of course, have answered the Giggle Chair. That silly bend made us laugh every single time and we would beg to ride it every chance we could. But if you had asked us what our favorite liftline was, we would have answered Needle’s Eye Double. Because that liftline was absolutely awesome.

A simple merge-merge pattern (not these new attendant-called ones), we learned the art of shuffling forward and sliding past bigger people. But that wasn’t why it was our favorite. The liftline there was a show. There was a ticket checker/liftie who would somehow stand on the divider so that everyone could see him and yell out trivia questions, heckle the crowd and lots of other fun things. He would get the entire line participating in whatever the experience was and we would all be interacting with each other and just having the best time, not noticing the frequently one hour wait time.

That changed liftlines for me. Instead of an experience obviously designed to torture the skiers that have to get 25 runs in an hour or else their entire world falls apart, liftlines became a time to play games and be silly. We practice all kinds of awkward balance postures, ones that will stretch our quads and hamstrings as we get older but for now it’s all about trying not to fall on the person next to you in the liftline.

I’ve spent so much time in liftlines since childhood, I don’t even want to begin to calculate the number of hours. But any time on skis is a good time, right? Have you ever taken your pole and placed the tip directly underneath the heel piece of someone’s binding and slid it forward when they weren’t paying attention? Nothing makes me giggle harder than, when watching when one ski slide out from underneath them, they flail about and then look around trying to figure out what happened. I can laugh for hours on that one.

Or how about the one where you slide your ski sideways to put snow on the tip of your ski? Once you’ve got enough snow built up, you can then flick your ankle to send the snow flying into the air. If you’re good enough at it, the snow might even go down the back of the jacket of the skier waiting in line ahead of you or create a huge snowstorm if you all work together. That can bring on a huge set of giggles — just be prepared to start a snow flicking war.

This past weekend, we got creative and put our skis on backwards. You know, when you put the heel of your boot into the toe piece of your binding and then click in so that you are looking at the tails of your skis? We used to do that back when I was a kid in Superstars. I think I even did the ski off like that one time, just to aggravate PK and Bruce. We had so much fun skiing Killington as kids, I refuse to stop looking at Killington through the eyes of a child.

So I am probably not the best person to ask if the lines were long or how people felt about the liftlines on a particular day. Unless they are clearly out of the maze, then it doesn’t matter to me. We are so busy having fun and learning balance, muscle control and equipment knowledge that we don’t even notice.

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