Of the four seasons we experience at Dartmouth, winter term is undeniably the grimmest – temperatures drop to scary subzero figures, half the student body flees off campus to warmer locations, and it’s nearly impossible to brave the outdoors without putting on at least three extra layers. Last year, rather than taking complete refuge indoors, I decided to embrace the weather by signing up for a particularly exciting sounding winter PE class – “Downhill Ski – Beginner.”
As a freshman from sunny southern California, I had never lived in freezing temperatures, let alone attempted to get onto an actual chairlift. My first day of class (which, due to my questionable judgment during course election was on a Saturday morning), I grabbed my skis, poles, boots and helmet, made the long trek from the River cluster to the Hop, and got on the first bus to the Skiway. I had signed up with one of my best friends (also from California) and the two of us had a combined two days total of ski experience. Nevertheless, we were both excited to hit the slopes, and felt confident that we’d be experts by the end of week two. (Spoiler alert: neither of us ending up actually receiving PE credit for the class.)
As it turned out, “hitting the slopes” meant awkwardly maneuvering our way onto the J-bar in order to attempt the bunny slope. Surprisingly, I managed to make it down without wiping out. The main issue, I realized, was mastering the back-and-forth zigzag motion necessary to get down the slope without gathering unreasonable speed. I was pretty good at “pizza-ing” down the hill, but in the world of real-life downhill skiing, that was clearly only going to get me so far. At the end of the first class, I hobbled over to the lodge, grabbed some hot chocolate, and strategized for week two. Certainly, with enough practice and effort, the actual chairlift wouldn’t be in far sight.
Unfortunately, reality soon hit. Due to, well, complete laziness on my part, my subsequent attendance of the class proved to be fairly dismal. I made it to a total of four of the seven classes required to earn a PE credit. The times I did go to class, my performance on the J-bar was evidently still below par and despite my best efforts, I was never cleared to go on the chairlift. Maybe one day I’ll figure out how to make it down a hill without resorting to pizza-ing, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be that year.
In all seriousness, if you are considering signing up for a winter PE class, I’d say go for it. Freezing temperatures aside, the New Hampshire snow is absolutely gorgeous, and there’s no better time than now to try something new. As for me, I think I’ll stick to Zumba for the rest of my PE classes. Stopping, dropping, and pausing is more of my area of expertise.