Horst gives me tips. Keep your weight equally distributed on both legs. Your feet should stay pointed forward. Widen your stance and angle your upper legs in to slow down. I practice this motion several times.
We hop into a red 4-by-4, which Horst charmingly calls “the buggy,” and ride a short distance up the slope.
Horst clamps the skis onto my boots. He holds me in place, jogs a few steps with me and lets go. It’s kind of like when your parents help you learn how to ride a bike: euphoria as you’re set free, followed by panic when you need to stop. I tilt my legs in to brake.
We do a couple more of these runs. I ski, Horst shouts encouragement, and then he picks me up in the buggy.
We make our way up the mountain. My first tumble occurs at about the halfway point.
You know what’s the same in grass skiing as in snow skiing?
You know what’s different?
The same: I do it. Different: It hurts more without the layer of frozen precipitation.
We work on my turning. The goal is to do it slowly, incrementally, in a large loop, during which you’re supposed to push off with the ski poles. I’m pivoting too quickly, taking the weight off my uphill foot.
“I think the lesson here is that my ski habits are not so good,” I tell Horst.
“Sometimes we have more problems with the skiers,” he says. And here I was thinking I’d have an advantage being an intermediate snow bunny.
Finally, we arrive at the top of the mountain. One of my ski poles has gone AWOL, apparently out the back of the vehicle. Horst sets off to find it, instructing me to meet him farther down the hill. The terrain is fairly flat.
Turns out the terrain is a bit too flat. I can’t get momentum, and the fact that I’m down a pole is throwing off my confidence. Eventually I propel myself to the meeting point.
Horst arrives, hands back by wayward pole and goes back to helping me turn. I’m still turning too quickly, and I feel myself getting tired. Horst suggests that I take a break from turning and ski straight to a point where he’ll pick me up in the buggy.
Off I go. Euphoria. Panic. I try to stop, and before I know it, I fall forward and land on my stomach.
Well, I have stopped. I have skidded to a stop.
I push myself up. There are stains, dirt and bruises where you really shouldn’t have stains, dirt and bruises.
“I’m okay!” I shout. Then, “I’m done! I’m done.”
We ride to the ski school office. I spend the next two hours reading a book and trying not to be too self-conscious about the mud tracks on the front of my white T-shirt.
I’m looking forward to the zip line tour. I can just hang as I glide along the 10 lines that crisscross the mountain.
There are about a dozen of us on the tour — parents, children, even grandparents. As I come in for a landing at one of the final stations, a guide glances at my shirt and says, “Looks like someone had their grass skiing lesson with Horst!”
And I lived to tell the tale.