"Come on. You just have to lean back and keep your ski tips out of the snow."
I looked up at him, squinting spite through the layer of snow that coated my goggles, pausing only to let my mouth go slightly agape in disbelief, before continuing the struggle to extract my skis from their snowy graves.
With his snowboard over his shoulder, he had post-holed nearly 100 yards back up the slope to where I had fallen, finally finding me between two trees, face-down in two feet of fresh powder.
"You’re giving me skiing advice … while holding a snowboard?" I complained.
In all fairness, this was probably my own fault.
At the start of the winter, I’d amassed a group of ladies with whom I ski pretty regularly. Most of them are married or long-term coupled. Their gentlemen are nice fellows, gracious hosts and connoisseurs of great microbrews and even better snow sport opportunities. They all seem to have wonderful, well-rounded relationships.
And yet, instead of choosing to ski as couples, their men-friends will drive separately and ski en masse—without their ladies. And the women are just as happy to do the same.
Confused about this division of gender, I decided to buck my lady group‘s tradition and invite my guy to go skiing. Why can’t men and woman ski together? Why does it have to be a terrible competition all the time? Ski free and ski proud, I say! Ski together!
As I struggled to dig out my skis, my words were long forgotten. I realized that love does have boundaries and, in my relationship at least, they start at the chairlift.
Finally freeing myself, I thought, "How are a couple of competitive types supposed to put aside their gender differences for a day of play in one of the best assets we’ve got here in Yellowstone Country?" Here were my observations:
Have realistic expectations.
He likes to ride fast, in the trees and in the deepest powder he can find. I prefer to stick to groomers and bowls—my east coast upbringing has made me hesitant around anything but wide-open terrain and ice, hard-pack or crud.
He wants to get there for first chair—and wouldn’t mind if we stayed until the last. I prefer to take warming breaks, don’t mind getting a beer in the lodge and would be perfectly happy to leave at noon.
Had we known each other’s skiing preferences, we’d probably have been able to plan accordingly instead of fighting whether to ski a groomer or tree run each time. Knowing is half the battle. Next time, we’ll plan to stick together for the first half of the day and then split up for the second (so I can take as many breaks as I want).
Don’t go on a powder day.
Together, that is. Seriously. As we talked about earlier in the week, a powder day is a magical and sacred unicorn. Make powder days fun for everyone and reserve them for hard skiing and no-holds-barred riding.
Speak of what you know.
Perhaps giving skiing advice when you’ve never been on a pair of skis is not the way to go. Unless you’re a world-class snow sports expert, I’m not going to take kindly to the critiquing of my body position and the placement of my poles.
Make a contingency plan.
Meeting at the base of the lift is my favorite one. It lets me ski the bowls, get in a good groomer or two and still have company on the chair up.
When all else fails, listen to your friends.
Especially those of your gender. They probably know something that you don’t.
Now, I know that there are tons of couples out there that happily ski and ride together. Have you ever gone skiing or riding with a significant other and made it out, relationship intact?