It will likely be a photo to roll out at her 18th birthday. In it, Ivie has just been strapped to a set of skis for the first time in her life. She’s pathetically sliding back and forth. She is tired and generally miserable.
Her face droops, her hands, adorned with fish gloves, jut out from her body. She has a woolen rabbit hat on. It could be going better. It’s a great photo.
But it also adequately captures a rite of passage. For many children, including myself, a miserable first-time skiing story is part of the deal. It’s like a band aid – rip it off quick, get it out of the way and hopefully set the scene for a lifetime of enjoying the sport.
So, at three and a half years old, I thought it time my daughter headed up Rainbow Ski Area. To ease her into it there was, of course, the tried and true tobogganing. Rainbow has a great array of toboggans and areas to test them out in – ranging from easy slide to death defying. This got Ivie used to the idea of being totally out of control while sliding towards an unsuspecting victim.
But then it came time for the skis. We slid her feet into the tiniest ski boots they had on offer.
“These are weird boots,” Ivie said, as she hobbled down towards the ski slope. Wait until they clipped on to planks, I thought. We aimed her toes for the binding and stepped down.
Two skis on and away we went – me carrying her up the beginner’s slope before letting go and frantically running after her and hoping she didn’t kill anyone.
Her day began with that photo but ended with her yelling at the top of her lungs: “Look at me goooooo … I wanna go againeeee!”
The next time we went up we enlisted the services of Ian the Rainbow ski instructor who was infinitely more patient than I. He pushed Ivie up the slopes as they generally chatted about her fish gloves and the colours on his jacket. Hint: they were rainbow coloured.
He progressed her skills from plummeting down the slopes to making a “big triangle”. By the end she was able to stop herself without anyone running frantically after her.
The final photo of the day usurps the first – Ian and Ivie, grinning after her first time skiing.