The day was long overdue.
I’ve wanted to ski this winter but I wasn’t sure it was possible—health wise or logistically. Yet this past Saturday, Elizabeth and I headed to Great Bear, my hometown hill, for some fun on the slopes. Ironically, where we live in Sioux Falls is the closest I’ve ever lived to a ski area—under 10 minutes away.
The day’s forecast was for high winds—like the typical Eldora ski day near Boulder—but when we arrived at Great Bear, the large oaks swayed only slightly, the gentle winds blowing a mere 5-7 mph. The sun winter shone brightly and the temperatures hovered around 30 degrees—a perfect February day in South Dakota.
Over all, the day proved a huge boost for me—both physically and mentally.
When I broached the topic of skiing with my doctor a few weeks ago, he gave me a green light, though cautioning me to not fall at high speeds—because chemo does make bones weaker. He seemed a bit less concerned when he learned I am experienced. But really, should anyone fall at breakneck speeds, especially with sharp metal edges underfoot?
For most of my life skiing has felt as natural as walking. Maybe it’s my Norwegian roots—thanks Grandpa Mostrom. Yet, stepping into my brother’s skis (our gear is back in Colorado) I felt a little tentative—my body has been through a lot this past year. Would I feel the aches and pains of the last year?
Fortunately, within a few runs, I felt back to form, making arcing slalom turns and carving some longer turns too. It felt good to go fast—to feel free like I have so many times before. The freedom was short lived, though, considering “Great Bump” only boasts about 178 vertical feet. Not exactly Whistler Blackcomb, but I’ll take what I can get! I’m just glad Sioux Falls has a ski area.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot about First Descents, a non-profit organization which provides “life changing outdoor adventures for young adults impacted by cancer.” At first, outdoor adventure didn’t seem like a good fit for cancer patients, considering all the health risks, but a primary goal of First Descents is to use outdoor adventure to help restore dignity and confidence—to help make people feel normal again.
Saturday proved as much to me as well. Cancer strips away so much—health, energy, and even my confidence to engage in sports I excelled in before. That’s why I think the day of skiing meant so much to me.
The day was also a boost for Elizabeth. Skiing for the first time in 16 years, she seemed to re-learn parallel turns rather easily—which reminded me just how adventurous and athletic my wife is, though she would not present herself as that :). She switched to snowboarding after injuring her knee in 2001 but has always wanted to try skiing again. Saturday was the day.
It was a great day together, one the Lord blessed us with. I thought of Psalm 103—one of my favorites. “Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things (verse 4-5a NIV).” I’m glad I serve a God who is a Redeemer and Satisfier.
With this day on the books, I’m now hoping to ski again sometime soon, in Colorado and maybe even a day in the backcountry? Anything seems possible at this point.