Christina Tuck led one of the fastest schools in the US and represented New York at the 1992 Olympics. Now a business coach, she lives in New Hampshire.
As I walked towards my rented Subaru Outback vehicle, my smile betrayed a kind of anxiety. I had to go out in Maine for an afternoon and two nights of snowboarding.
A spectacular true blue Maine coastline greeted me at every turn, but it was a place I had never been before, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Maine has a very small – and, at about 65 miles (109 km) long, difficult to get to from New York City – population. It’s known as the ski mecca of New England, where thousands of people travel each year to ski in the breathtaking daylight of Maine’s 30,000-plus acres of snow-covered mountains. And its winter scenery is a boon for year-round sightseeing and fine dining in coastal and surrounding towns.
As I remembered that Maine is my home state – the only place where my own mother was born – my anxiety eased slightly. Then I realised that I had pulled a ski vacation from someone else’s plans. Of course, I could never as long as I do get to live in New York City.
I’d learned long ago that winter racing – Cross Country Skiing, that is – can be so mentally draining that it’s the best time of year to zone out.
That was part of the reason I’d looked for a trip that would fit into my schedule while still “running” while I skied.
There are, in fact, quite a few people from New York who also ski competitively. Our shared affection for endurance and single-mindedness made skiing together like being born for one another.
I’m sure we love cross country so much because of the unrelenting sunshine (though we want it to last) and the tranquility of everything that surrounds us.
I also enjoyed looking through different parts of our respective countries (I’m from the centre of Manhattan, he’s from the hinterlands on the Hudson River; have you seen the hinterlands?).
I’m a New Yorker by birth, but a central part of that lifestyle means to me that I need to always be ready for some source of anxiety. I love the snow, and I love the natural beauty that it offers, but I also have to be ready to deal with the trials and tribulations of – especially – New York City’s winter weather.
If there was ever a place I’d need a little extra training, it would be in a place like this, with its unrelenting beauty and unending possibilities.
Each February, I celebrate the arrival of a new year by running through snow-covered Ithaca, New York, pushing myself through my own assumptions about the possibility of another day of true rest – of being able to just stop running and go play – but I never stop to appreciate the splendour of the snowfall in a different part of the year, when it’s not all white. I’ve become always-ready at the ready for anything, and now I know better. I’m never worried about snowstorms.
But I still love New York City in the summer, and I love ski slopes in New England and Canada. If I wanted to see that side of myself again, I would see who I truly was, and how I would react to all the challenges the different landscape brought.
As I squeezed my sleeve to fit in the car seat, and heard myself say, “This is great, Vancouver,” it felt as though a part of me was learning about something completely new. I quickly learned about the skill necessary to ski the distance from the city to the mountains of Maine.
And after more than a day and half’s course in ski tuning and instruction, I was even more thrilled to see how I had gelled with my ski partners, and how the area welcomed us all with open arms.
It was truly, unaltered, the best thing I’d done in a long time. – The Vancouver Sun