A/n: I put this as a "chapter" because I know that some people really don't like long-ass author notes at the end. This is totally optional / not really necessary info, mostly about skiing if you don't know much about the sport. There's some vocabulary that might be of assistance if something in the story confused you. Oh, and there's a "do not do this at home" warning at the end, too, lol.
Alpine Skiing/Skis: Alpine skiing is just downhill skiing, meaning you go to the top of a hill/mountain (usually at a resort), strap on some skis, and let gravity do its work. This is different from cross-country skiing, for example, in which you sometimes have to move across flat and even uphill terrain, which is so not fun because that involves a lot of work. Boo.
Used to, alpine skis were straight, narrow, and long. Most modern skis (also called "shaped" skis, parabolic skis, etc.), however, kind of resemble an hourglass in shape, with the tips and tails being a good bit wider than the waist. They are way easier to turn and just more forgiving, in general. Proper length of skis depends on several factors, including weight and ability. The taller you are, typically the longer your skis. But also, length of skis directly relates to stability, which relates to what kind of speed you can reach (wherein the ability part comes in). Basically, the longer they are, the more stable they are and the faster you go. On the flip side, long skis are harder to maneuver/turn. Hence, beginner skis are usually a good bit shorter than expert/aggressive level ones because being able to turn is… important in skiing.
Edward's Fischer RC4 racing skis are, um, fast. I do not have a pair. I ski Rossignols.
Other Equipment: Boots are just that. They are plastic and very stiff, made to attach to skis using bindings. They come up to about mid-calf and are designed to prevent your ankle from turning. The "stiffness" and "tightness" of them depends on purpose and level. Racing boots are typically very stiff and very tight for maximum speed and control. Bindings are mechanical devices that connect boots to skis. They are designed such that you can quickly step in and out of your skis using quick release latches. Poles are, well, poles. They are used more for balance than for forward propulsion. You can also sword fight with them.
Some Skiing Basics: Good form includes: keeping your knees bent, leaning slightly forward, and keeping your elbows and poles at nice 90 degree angles. In general, the straighter your skis are (meaning parallel to the slope) the faster you go. Some say keep your skis shoulder–width apart. Some say keep them tight together. That mostly depends on the skis, to be honest. One sure way to increase speed is to tuck, meaning crouch very low, keep your arms tight to your sides, and lean far forward, thus reducing drag. Snow Wedge/Pizza Slice/Snow Plow/Other similar names are terms to describe a beginner method of controlling speed and handling turns. Rather than keeping your skis straight, you angle the tips together to form a 'V', which increases friction and thus slows you down. This is a super helpful skill when you are first getting started. As a skier advances, he/she graduates to various other, more efficientturns and stops (stem Christie, parallel, carving, etc), in which you utilize weight shifting and let the edges of your skis do most of the work. When you see people impressively spray walls of snow as they stop or turn sharply, all they are doing is showing off. No, they're just moving most of their weight to one foot very fast, swiveling their hips, and leaning into the mountain, thus setting their edges at a hard 90 degrees to the direction they were traveling. It's a fast way to stop, and it's always fun to spray your friends, but your thighs and hips will hate you later if you do it too often.
The Mountain: You ski on trails or slopes. These are paths that have been designed based on skill level and skiing style preference. There are often many trails on a given mountain. They can range from a few hundred feet to a couple of miles long. Chairlifts are open-air seats that are suspended on moving cables that take you from the base of the mountain to the tops of trails. They can seat anywhere from 1 person per chair to 6+ and are the most common way to move people up the mountain. Chairlifts are often intimidating for new skiers because at the top, you have to exit while the chair is still moving. Gondolas are enclosed versions of chairlifts. They are sometimes used in very cold climates and/or for really long routes up the mountain. T-bar lifts and rope pulls are sometimes used on very short climbs or on low incline Green hills. Your skis remain on the ground as you ascend. Between you and me, rope pulls can be rather tricky, as you have to hold onto a moving rope and stand as you slide up the hill (mental picture: it's kind of like water skiing). Back when I was learning, I think I fell more getting off a certain rope pull than all the chairlifts I've ever ridden combined. Terrain Parks are designated areas with half-pipes, jumps, etc., and are much like skateboard parks. They are often used by snow boarders, but sometimes by skiers, too.
The mountain portrayed in this story is not one single mountain/resort. It's really a fictional combination of Mt. Norquay, Lake Louise, and Sunshine Village, all located in/around Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. Snowbowl is a real resort/mountain located in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Green/Blue/Black trail designation: In North America, trails are rated using the following system: Green Circle, Blue Square, Black Diamond, and Double Black Diamond. Greens are low incline, wide, groomed (meaning: all the hills/valleys have been smoothed out), and easy. The easiest Greens are sometimes called "bunny slopes". Tangentially, "ski bunny" is often used as a joking term for women who are more interested in looking pretty/fashionable on the slopes than they are actually skiing. Blues are intermediate slopes. They are usually still groomed and wide-ish, but the incline is steeper. At a lot of mountains in NA, there are more Blue trails than Greens or Blacks. Black Diamonds are for more advanced skiers. They may or may not be groomed, are often narrow, can be icy, and are steep. They can also include moguls (small hills that are a bitch to ski). Double Blacks are bastards. That is all. No, but really. They are for expert level skiers. They are often very steep, narrow, not groomed, icy, have fields of moguls, and can sport dangerous drop offs. While I typically ski single blacks, I've only skied one Double Black and that was long ago. When I made it to the bottom, my boyfriend at the time, a ski instructor, laughed and told me I looked green. I promptly vowed to never do that again. At some of the bigger mountains out West, there are Double Black Free Ride Zones that are just insane. You are basically skiing open mountain – rocks, trees, cliffs, freaking avalanches. Experts only, for sure.
The Super G (Super Giant Slalom) is one of a couple different speed events where the skier has to ski down a course, around gates/flags, as quickly as possible. Courses often consist of a couple of different connected trails.
Do not try this at home warnings: There's a scene included in this story that I don't advise actually doing. Unless you're with a skier who really knows what they're doing, having someone ski directly behind you with their skis on either side of yours can be a total recipe for disaster. It's one thing when you're skiing with/teaching kids; it's another with adults. Likewise, I'd be remiss to not say that while skiing backward is fun, I can't recommend it unless, again, you know what you're doing.