VIDEO: Skiing remains popular in Wisconsin even among first-timers

Learning to fly (down a mountain)

When we think about downhill skiing, the Olympics come to mind.

But we don’t have mountains here in Wisconsin. It’s hard to train for the Olympics here. But we do have over 20 ski hills and resorts, which, according to, put us third in the nation in terms of number of recreational downhill runs.

However, despite nearly a lifetime spent in the Badger State, I had never put skis on before in my life, and I probably wouldn’t have, except for an innocent enough mention at the end of our We Love Wisconsin Tour stop in Slinger last year when Little Switzerland owner Mike Schmitt, invited what they call a “never ever” to come and give it a shot.

So I did.

Mike left me in the hands of veteran ski instructor Steve Faller, with whom I hit the slopes with.

Okay, more accurately, it was off to a tiny change in elevation where other “never-evers” were. Never mind that most of them were six years old.

“Skiing is an athletic event,” Faller began his instructional session with. “Let’s pretend you’re playing shortstop. Get ready to get that ball – its coming. So you have to get you weight to the balls of your feet. Your hands are forward, you’re ready to move in any direction.”

I learned how to turn. I learned how to stop. Everything was going along pretty well. We kept going further and further up the ski hill.

Until – about 90 minutes into my first lesson – I can’t catch the turn. And when you can’t turn, you can’t control your speed. When you can’t control your speed and there are a group of about a half dozen 8 year olds at the bottom of the hill, you have a choice. Risk mowing them over, or hitting the eject button.

All in all, I had a blast, one bad (albeit intentional) fall notwithstanding.

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