I’ve done cross-country skiing in recent years, but it must have been forty years since I had done any downhill. Matt (and Anne too) has asked me several times in the past few years if I wanted to go skiing. I had resisted until last Saturday (that would be March 15, I guess).

It’s not really far from Casco to Bethel, where Sunday River is, but there’s a very respectable ski area called Shawnee Peak that’s much closer. Shawnee is on Moose Pond in Denmark — well, I guess actually in Bridgton. As the crow flies, it’s about four miles from the house Arlene and I rented from one of her Newton teacher friends, but you can’t get there from there — the house we rented is at the end of a dead-end road, so you would have to loop back to the main road, go back towards downtown Bridgton, up Hio Ridge Road (you can wave to Linda what’s-her-name, Whiting?, of Pinestar Studio, who lives on that road) and then up Mountain road, over a little bridge at the narrows on Moose Pond, and eventually to the ski area. Or what we did from Casco, go through downtown Bridgton and towards Freyburg until you get to Mountain Road. That puts it about 25 miles from our house. Shawnee Peak is known as a family-friendly area with plenty of beginners trails. I figured that I was ready to try it.

I don’t have downhill ski equipment of my own, and after only having downhill skied twice after I did it in gym class in college (oh, hmm, maybe another time or two with the Browns at Nashoba Valley out in Groton) I signed up for a lesson at the “first time on skis” level. The whole package, skis, boots, poles (which they didn’t let us use in the class at all), lesson, and lift ticket (restricted to the beginners chairlift), cost $65.

It really all came right back, not just like riding a bicycle, but back. I never really learned much beyond the first lesson’s worth in gym class, so I felt that I was doing about as well as I ever had — which isn’t saying much, just snowplow turns. There were seven people in the class, three adults and four kids. After the instructors went over the basic ideas of stopping and turning and had us all do three or four 50-foot runs just to see if we had caught on, one instructor asked the adults to come with him. We went over to the chairlift,  rode up it  (the other two adults took the first double chair and I rode with the instructor. He turns out to run an ice cream business, but since there’s not so much to do in the winter, he does ski instruction then) and started down, in two short runs to get the feel of it and then one long run that went all the way to the bottom. I did fall on the second of the short runs — well, it was the steepest part of the run — but basically by the time I got to the bottom I was saying, “I could get to like this.”

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