Snow Sports

Snow Sports

I do not downhill ski.  I’ve never been able to do it.  The thought of strapping myself to two pieces of wood and flying down the side of a mountain has never appealed to me.  As a matter of fact, it absolutely terrifies me and I have not the slightest idea why people do it.  This was a hard paradigm to grow up with in New Hampshire.  By fourth grade almost every one of my friends had a clunky ski pass dangling from their winter coat.  There were the skiers and the snowboarders.  During the winter months, my school would organize trips to mountains.  Everyone would have the day off to hop in a bus and ski with their friends.  However, if for some reason you could not go to the mountain–possibly an injury, forgetting your ski boots, or having a complete lack of interest–you were shipped off to a farm owned by the school librarian where you could sled, watch movies, play hide and seek, and drink hot chocolate to your heart’s content.  This is where I went on these days, usually accompanied by a mass of kindergartners who were too young to ski.

By the time I was twelve, I was done with being the only one of my friends who didn’t ski.  So, I asked my dad to take me.  He got home after work one day and off we went.  I don’t know why he thought that night skiing would be a good introduction, but after the hour long car ride to Pat’s Peak, it was dark.  We went inside and he strapped me into the tightest boots I have ever worn in my life and we proceeded to the “Bunny Hill”.  He helped me on to this conveyor belt thing that slides you up to the top of he slope.  After falling off several times, I finally made it to the top.  I fell, over and over again, until the tightness of my boots, the glare of the flood lights, and the coldness of my legs were all too much.  My twelve-year-old emotions took over and I cried.  I cried a lot.  After about twenty-five minutes of crying and ‘skiing’, we went home.  I never downhill skied again.

I have met many people in my life who love to ski.  There are those who are not afraid of the lack of control that comes with this kind of activity.  I, however, am not one of them.  I always envied them growing up, and even now.  People who are not afraid to let go of control in order to master a skill.  I have never had an easy time ‘letting go’.  Even when doing something as mundane as going out with my friends, I like to be the one driving, I like to make a plan, and I do not like it when things intrude on that plan.  So, as you can imagine, something like downhill skiing is far out of my comfort zone.  I love to ski cross country.  It is a calm, methodical experience.  My brothers and I used to make our way down the snow mobile trails in the woods behind our house, all the way out to Wild Goose Pond.  Where we would ski right out onto the ice.  The sudden switch from the shade of the woods light reflecting off of the lake would blind us for a moment, and then our eyes would adjust.  We would swoosh through the woods.  It was rhythmic and easy.  Those skiing trips, I loved.

I have two younger brothers–one six years younger, the other just two.  My older little brother and I played a lot of hockey growing up.  Mind you, it wasn’t real hockey.  It was more or less us, with two found, fallen branches, and a tennis ball on the pond behind our house.  And with our rudimentary tools, we would precede to have life or death competitions.  He always won.  It got frustrating eventually because he just could not loose.  Neither of us was particularly gifted in our ice hockey skills, but he always managed to get the puck–or the tennis ball–from me.  I didn’t understand it at all.  I figured he was just better, he had a skill that I did not.

Then one day, we came inside from playing with our ice skates hung over our shoulders and my mother looked us over.  My brother’s pants were absolutely soaked.  From his butt to his ankles, his jeans were sodden.  I examined my own, they were relatively dry.  Around my ankles were damp, but the rest of me was pretty dry.  So, the nest time we went out I paid more attention. I watched him play and I realized why he was so much better than me.  It was because he fell, a lot.  He would come to get the ball and, bam, he would be on the ice; he went to make a shot and, again, he would fall on the ice.  He fell constantly, but he didn’t seem to care.  I still remember putting it all together and wondering if it could really be that simple.  I watched his knees smack that ice so hard, so many times before and I had never really thought about it.  He went into these games, knowing that he would fall, knowing that he would bruise and get wet, and he accepted that.  In that acceptance, was the key to being good at hockey.  When I played the game, my main focus was not falling.  I thought that was the goal of ice skating, and by extension our hockey games.  However, in that constant fear of falling, I was missing opportunities.  I remember that exact day on the ice and figuring it out.

It sounds cliche, but it is so so true–you cannot be afraid to fall.  On the contrary, you have to be ready to fall, at all times.  You have to expect it.  My brother’s hockey skills taught me that the only way to be good at anything is to do it so hard that you smack your knees on the ice.  I would like to try downhill skiing again someday, knowing that falling is half of the experience.  Through writing this essay I have come to find that snow sports are a good metaphor for life–for me anyway.  They exist outside of my comfort zone.  That is where I have to learn how to fall, and that is a terrifying idea.  However, I know that the important thing is the amount of yourself that you put in to your work, and allowing yourself to fall really hard, is a good thing.

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I think I am still looking for something in this work.  When I remembered this one experience of playing ice hockey with my brother I thought, there it is, there is an opening for an idea.  I did not really know what that idea was.  It ended up talking a lot about falling.  It is a very specific thing that has happened to everyone.  I think that this concept is too narrow.  I realized that the idea that I had been circling was not just falling, but the fear of falling.  I am having a difficult time landing on some way of conveying this clearly.  I want this essay to sound less cliche, more original.  However, I find myself writing with the purpose of being unique, and I cannot find my voice that way.  I need to know what I’m doing, and I’m still not quite sure if I do.

4 Replies to “Snow Sports”

  1. Idea : Anna’s idea is that falling is apart of life, apart of skiing and apart of hockey. You have to fall to learn how to get back up. Winter sports are about learning how to let go of the control within your body and just glide across the snow or ice.

    Evidence : Anna takes the moment of her learning how to ski with her dad and puts the reader in her shoes. She sets the scene by talking about how when she was young all her friends could ski except her and this is what drove her to try and learn. She felt left out, which is a very hard feeling to deal with at a young age. She draws out this feeling when she says she keeps falling on the bunny hill and eventually gives up.She also does this with the moment of her and her brother playing hockey. It is not until she realizes her brother keeps beating her in hockey that you are suppose to fall to win. Both sports require the ability to know how to fall in order to get back up and keep going. This gave her the realization of wanting to try again knowing falling was only apart of learning how to ski, and that you should approach everything in life giving 100% and knowing that if you fall everything will still be ok as long as you try again.

    Presence: Anna’s entire essay is based off of her personal experience with winter sports. Her voice is clear and easy to follow, her writing flows and allows the reader to understand the point she is trying to make throughout the entire essay. Each paragraph is split up into sections that allow the reader to make clear distinctions of the idea of each individual paragraph and clear transitions.
    Love this one alot Anna !! – Devon Sacca

  2. Presence
    There is definitely a presence and a passion in this essay. It starts with a simple topic of skiing, but by the end the reader is given a mind-expanding conclusion. Nicole B. Wallack says that presence is more than just a voice, but I believe that voice is a huge part of the presence. This essay has a lot of voice. Beyond that, the essay has presence because you speak about how these memorable experiences turned into a life lesson for you. If you had focused the essay only on what it is to learn a new skill, there might not be as much of a presence, but the way you were able to tie it into your personal life makes it far more enjoyable to read and I’m sure more enjoyable to write.
    Idea
    At first, I thought the idea of this essay was going to be more on your evolving through winter sports, but the ending of the essay broke open the central idea of not being afraid to fall hard. This is a great idea to focus on in my opinion because it is a motivational one to anyone who comes across this blog post. Don’t be afraid to hit your knees on the ice, because it will help you strengthen your skill in the long run. I also like the tying together of the idea that, while you have to be willing to fall, you also have to be prepared. You have to brace yourself, not just let it happen. Yes, be willing to try and fail, but know that you will have to fail to succeed.

    Evidence
    I think it’s pretty clear that the evidence here is your personal experience. It draws me in more that you use personal evidence for your idea. The moment when you realized for yourself that you have to be willing to fall is the most central evidence you have in the essay. I would say if you wanted to expand this essay you could add in a similar situation that someone you know (or maybe a widely known person) had that made them realize what you did. You could ask one of the many winter sports fans you know if they have any experiences like this, just so that you could keep your overall theme intact. You have great evidence, though. It really works for you that you have anecdotes from different winter sports experiences and you show the reader the feeling you had through these experiences and your inner thoughts in these moments.

  3. i. Idea

    Though the essay starts off heavily opinion based, this bias serves a purpose and quickly delves into reflection: the idea presented here, in my eyes, is the willingness to fall not only in individual instances but in life as a whole. I absolutely loved the metaphor between winter sports and life, especially since my opinions on the sports are completely opposite yours— I absolutely hated the few times I’ve gone cross country skiing yet love barrelling down a 70-degree slope. I think the area where your idea falters a bit is that there isn’t much area allowed for counterargument and the essay goes from point A to point B really quickly and in a very ordinary, predictable fashion. You talk about “falling” as essential and beneficial, which is great, but (and this is purely speculation) there’s certainly some downsides to falling as well. For example, what about the possibility of falling and not being able/not knowing how to get back up? Just some thoughts!

    ii. Evidence

    I think you handle evidence immaculately throughout this essay; retellings of personal accounts are, in my opinion, the single most effective sort of evidence and you certainly provide plenty of it. I find that starting out with a story is strong as well, and the particular story you tell fits in super well: either the reader doesn’t like to ski just like you, and so they can relate directly, or the reader is an avid skier, knows the struggle of learning the sport and can relate in that way. Either way, you succeed in drawing interest in your writing, which is definitely the most important part! The continued evidence throughout is awesome; it’s easy to start out with a story and then ramble on about your topic from their, but you bring it back to the story about you and your brother and tie that into the whole very nicely.

    iii. Presence

    The first thing I notice in this regard is that a lot of your sentences are consistently short, which provides a certain voice over your essay– now I’m not quite sure what that voice is, but it’s definitely there and I think it works! Aside from the encompassing metaphor throughout the piece, I don’t find many examples of rhetorical devices in individual sentences or paragraphs, but I think there’s a presence that shines through with your very blunt and to-the-point diction regardless. The piece is organized chronologically, moving from your first time skiing to your time playing “hockey” (which, I’d like to add, was wonderfully written) and gives off the feeling that we’re following your experience as we’re reading. The strongest component of your presence, I think, is your point of view towards winter sports and downhill skiing in particular— you start off hating it, terrified of it, and just being unable to do it but then open up and state how you’re envious of the people that practice it. Something about that example just works really well for me!

  4. The Idea:
    If you are afraid to fail or lose control of a situation, you will never be able to improve and eventually conquer that situation. I am a skier myself and there is a term that I use when tackling a new feature or trying to land a jump. “Fall on your ass, make another pass.” There is a certain value in failure that allows you to make correction, see where you screwed up, and also learn to forgive yourself for not being confident. In failure, there is either acceptance or denial. To accept and keep trying is better than the latter.

    The Evidence:
    “My brother’s hockey skills taught me that the only way to be good at anything is to do it so hard that you smack your knees on the ice. I would like to try downhill skiing again someday, knowing that falling is half of the experience.”
    This is evidence from your own life. Your own experiences, along with your brother’s experiences have changed how you think and act. Evidence is the fact that your brother seemed to excel in skills that you were lacking, not because of natural talent or ability, but because of your fear to fail and your brother’s eagerness to fail. You saw what your brother was doing and applied it to your own life.

    The Presence:
    From the first essay-
    “I think that speaking can be intimidating. However I also think it can provide a more authentic persona, while, in writing, you have to compose your own voice.”

    From the second essay-
    “There are those who are not afraid of the lack of control that comes with this kind of activity. I, however, am not one of them.”

    -There is a confessionary way of speaking that is very humbling but also very informative. You talk about things that are intimidating or out of reach, like speaking well or skiing well. You say how she feels about a certain topic, then she states the values and complexities of that topic. (Skiing is hard for me because there is a lack of control—speaking is different from writing because it is more authentic.) These are your opinions, but they also relate to larger concepts.

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