Sorry if this is a bit verbose but I can remember this like it was yesterday...
I started late compared to most... 18 years old and went with a few friends, my dad and a caravan. Stayed right next to a lake (not clever) that gave a good impression of Siberia when the wind whipped up
As I had no experience, we went to a rather sedate area Smiggins Hole (NSW, Australia) where we were met with blizzard conditions. Thinking that I'd enjoy the sport, I had bought some low cost clothing from my local surf shop in Sydney (Jacket, bib & brace) for a grand total of $29 in a beautiful late 70's style blue. Bought a ticket (all of $16 in those days), hired some skis and proceeded to fumble my way onto the snow proper.
Now I had water skied for many years and thought to myself, "it can't be that different - who needs a lesson" and promptly tripped (adding a cart-wheeled for difficulty to the fall) into the lift line. After enlisting some poor soul as a leaning post for the duration of the line, the lifty managed to get that piece of torture between my legs (it was a J-Bar) and I was off! Somehow, I managed to stay on the thing all the way to the top (all of about 100m vertical) and felt pretty good that I had got off the thing leaving my wedding tackle intact and without ending up on my backside.
Then came the crunch...I got up to the top okay but how do I get down! That bunny slope looked like a cliff and people on the lift line looked so far away (I asked myself why did I do this??
) Oh well, too late I surmised and timidly aimed my skis slightly downhill. I was off and a second question started to niggle on my now slowly freezing brain - "I wonder how you stop on these things?"
(Maybe I should have tried this out at the bottom first!!) but adolescent bravo overruled common sense and I started to gather speed. I had watched a couple of skiers gliding down the beginners slope whilst riding up the lift so I gave my best attempt at a snowplough turn - it worked and I thought I was on my way to becoming a skier... that was until I tried to turn the other way! I couldn't and ended up sliding down the hill on my stomach until a ski tip managed to dig into the snow halting my penguin impersonation. Well, this continued for the remainder of the run - one turn and then splat.
When I finally got to the bottom, I passed on the lift line and decided to wander over to a less crowded area and practice a bit (both turning and stopping). I trudged up that slope and skied it for an hour until I felt I could manage that bunny slope without fear. I rejoined the lift line with new-found confidence but alas it was short lived... I kept falling off the J-Bar! After about six attempts I got my balance and managed to stay on to the top so I spent the next couple of hours exploring the joys of skiing until fatigue and a thirst for beer finally kicked in.
As I stated earlier, I'd bought a cheapish parka and bib & brace for this trip. What I hadn't noticed was the hundreds of threads that were hanging loose on the surface of the clothing. These threads had managed to gather snow throughout the afternoon and it looked like I had purchased the parka complete with white pom-poms.
Anyway, the day ended and after a good night's sleep we went back for more. This day was more fruitful and my passion for skiing was ignited. This passion (which still burns) has taken me on a number of overseas trips in search of better conditions and to some of the world's premier resorts (eating up quite a sizable amount of money in the process). Thank goodness I didn't give up on that first day.