After much deliberating, discussion and delight, The Ski Journal, in conjunction with Warren Miller, is proud to announce the top ten entries for our ‘First Time Ever on Skis’ contest. With hundreds of submissions ranging from 2010 to the 1940’s, from Norway to Dubai to Norcal, featuring tragedy and triumph, family, friends and strangers, uphill and downhill, poems, prose and even a few run-on sentences, suffice to say that theyall brought smiles to our faces—and brought back our own personal memories of the purity of our first time sliding on snow.
Alas, there can only be one winner, which you can read below and in the forthcoming issue of The Ski Journal. A special thanks to Mr. Warren Miller and contest sponsors K2, Orage, Smith Optics, and media partner Newschoolers.com. And you, the reader, who took the time to relive your first time with us—we hope your stories were as enjoyable to write as they were to read.
First Place: Grant Kaye.
When I was young, I used to troll the neighborhood garbage for things that people would toss away. I scored a lot of great “trash” this way, but one item in particular would have a heavy influence on the rest of my life.
One winter afternoon in the late 1980s, the cute blonde teenager who lived across the street and down a few houses in my hilly suburban neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania must have outgrown her red 160 cm Elan fiberglass skis. I couldn’t believe my eyes—there they were, sticking out of her rubbish can as I biked home from delivering newspapers on my paper route. I was beyond excited. I immediately grabbed her skis from the trash and rushed down the stairs to the basement and into my father’s workshop. I knew from obsessively reading ski magazines that skis required bindings and ski boots to secure one’s feet, but all I had lying around were an old ratty pair of Puma soccer shoes. Not to be deterred, I decided that the best idea was for me to screw them right down into the skis. I remember measuring back from the tips of the skis to line the toes of the Pumas up, and standing on a stepstool to get enough leverage to reach the skis on the workbench and screw the shoes onto them.
The wait for the next snowstorm was excruciating, as I recall it always was in Western Pennsylvania. Soon enough though, it came, and I marched out the door and up my street to the steep(ish) part, where I stood in the shoes on the skis, and laced them up as tight as I could bear. I lunged off without poles, right down the middle of the paved street in 6 inches of snow, and promptly fell on my face on the asphalt, laughing ecstatically. I tried over and over, until I managed to glide for a few feet through the slushy glop, scraping the edges on the pavement until they grabbed and brought me to a halt. I left the pavement behind due to being frustrated with the interruptions from traffic and the accompanying weird looks from neighbors, so I moved onto grassy slopes and eventually to my steep backyard. I skied over and over until it got dark and my toes were numb. I was hooked.
Twenty years later, I have never looked back, as I now live in Lake Tahoe and ski every chance I get at Squaw. Although I now make use of real bindings, which ski much better than soccer shoes screwed to the neighborhood cutie’s garbage skis.