I was very young when I first learned to ski, probably only 5 or 6. I was largely governed by fear as a child, and have specific memories of being afraid of my parents, sports, strangers, crows, skeletons, other children, and being made fun of by other children. I was certainly afraid of going fast, and did not learn to ride a bicycle until I visited my cousin (who was a year younger and riding without training wheels) and was humiliated into learning to ride one.
My father’s ingenious idea was to take me out on the bunny hill with the movie camera. Back in the 60s, having a Super-8 movie film camera meant you could make soundless three-minute movies of birthday parties, boys throwing footballs and family members waving at the camera. If other families made different movies, I’ve never seen them. Later, after sending off the film for developing, the family could set up the movie projector and screen, bring some straight-backed chairs from the dining room into the living room, and gather all the folks for a movie. Silent home movies have the added advantage of allowing everyone to shout out whatever they want, and best of all, can be shown backwards after being shown forwards. Many a shot in our family’s movies was set up just to be extra funny when shown backwards.
So out on that beginner slope at Breckenridge, my dad shot film all afternoon, while I snow-plowed and linked my turns, hamming it up for posterity. Of course, only the first 10 seconds of my skiing were preserved on film, but I was only a small child and failed to realize how short those movies were. Nevermind. I learned to ski, and I liked it, and I didn’t cry the whole afternoon, probably.