When I first met Bee Knees (who, from here on out, will be referred to as BK) our biggest concern was his knee. We had many, almost tearful, conversations in November and December about the fact that he would not be able to snowboard this winter season—he is always heeding the Doctors orders. All the while, I am saying silent prayers of gratitude to the mystery in the sky, Thank you... I will be able to avoid skiing for one season and this man won’t have to see me in my most vulnerable athletic state (the state one is in when they have just fallen on their ass or face or in any other unbecoming fashion, like this. Unfortunately, and thankfully, these silent prayers were never heard.
We started slowly at, what would become for me, Winter Sports Challenge Season. While BK was still following Doctors orders, he had decided that his knee was in a good enough shape to do some Cross Country Skiing. What is that? Well, here is a link, but I can tell you that it is, quite possible, the most physically demanding winter sport. You are using two poles to propel your body forward on two, waxy, skinny sticks, and trusting that they will assist you at gliding forward. The night before our first challenge, my status as a novice winter sports girl was no mystery. I shared my qualms, admitting to BK that I had never done this before. He seemed unfazed by my lack of raw talent and rather asked, “So, what did you do in Chicago?” When I could not answer he simply said, “Oh Victoria, don’t worry about it, anyone can do it.”
It was a Saturday and we left at around nine for Červená Voda. I laced up my borrowed boots, mustering all my anxiety so that the complete and utter terror would not show on my face. I looked at the mountain. I looked at BK, “You want me to climb up that?” “Tak jo, šup, šup.” I waddled my way awkwardly behind him, the sticks (some people call them skis, but they are sticks) and poles banging up my shins because I could not carry them properly.
On the chairlift (I still don’t know how I managed to get on the first time, I think BK held my hand), it was beautiful – & with heated seats, who knew! I started thinking; I could ride this thing all day while he skis, brilliant! Apparently, this was not an option as the safely bar was quickly yanked from my grasp “Okay, we are going to have to get off now,” he looked at me knowingly. “Just stand up and push yourself off.” Easy for him to say. He is not aware that the last time I hurled myself off a chairlift, on downhill skis, I could not stop. I slid right behind a snowboarder, who was tightening his binding, and bent him over in this most uncompromising fashion, in such a way that he became a bottom and I became a top (don’t look that up—see ski video above). So, what happened this time (you all wait with baited breath….)? Of course I fell, and not only did I fall, I pushed BK down with me.
This would be the first of many falls that day, some less glamorous than this one. There was no escaping the truth, BK would no longer see me as poised, graceful, Victoria (though I doubt he ever did), but rather I would become Victoria, who he sees more on her ass than on the skis (there are loads of video and photos of this)
I cannot relay all the wipeouts of the morning, there were simply too many, but I will say that the majority of the morning was down hill. When I say I cannot stop on skis, cross-country skis make that simple act even more impossible. The epic fall came sometime after lunch. We had climbed a small kopec to reach our destination pro obed. As BK taught me that morning: what goes up must come down. We had been lucky, while there were many other cross country skiers, the paths were not terribly crowded and you could move at a nice pace. At this point, I had escaped many collisions with others as I wobbly flung myself down the hills, but this time it was different. BK took off and I was feeling a brush of confidence at having completed 8km, albeit they being down hill, so I took off down this hill. As I was picking up speed, I noticed a family trudging up this hill on their skis, oh shit I thought, this is not going to be okay. As expected, I lost control, somehow catapulted myself, and tackled the mother of the family to the ground. The crash tore off her off her skis, sent her poles flying, and put her in a position that looked as if she would be left for dead, and eaten by the wild bears that roam the mountains. Okay, so that is a bit exaggerated, but it was a bad fall. Taking someone out like that is horrible anywhere, but taking someone out when you don’t know how to express complete and utter regret and humiliation is even worse, “Promie, promie” I said fervently, as I attempted to assist her with retrieval of her skis and poles. Much thanks to BK, he was watching the whole thing, laughing. However, he did contain his laugher long enough to help me.
As the afternoon progressed, I wanted to kill BK less and less. I was actually having fun and only he tried to kill me once, which is a good afternoon for us. At one point he made think that we were going to have to ski down the hill, the skiers were on, that was not as funny. Eventually, the first day ended and somehow all my joints and limbs were still attached to a body I claim to be mine. Our first day ended up being 15 KM, which is decent considering I had never done Cross Country Skiing before.
On the way home BK told me how proud he was of the progress I had made and that we would go again next weekend. We drove a little while longer and he said, “I think my knee might be able to handle a little snowboarding. We should try some downhill skiing soon….” To which I responded, “Sure, zlatičko, of course.”
& That is where Winter Sports Challenge Season: Part 2 will begin.
Thanks to BK and Devendra Banhart “Now That I Know”, for getting me through the tedious task of displaying my humiliation via this medium. Tak Čau.
What Czech winter looks like from the passenger seat of Emily (BK's car).
To show that not all of Winter Sports Challenge Season was dangerous and life threatening. By next year I will have perfected my backwards glide for video viewing pleasure. 2014 Winter Olympics: Vote Victoria