January 3, 2014

On The Rebound: Make it warm before I hurt myself

By Mitch Howard
Sports Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — I’m not a fan of cold weather for the usual reasons. First of all it is cold. I watch too many ballgames and eat too much, which makes me fat and grumpy. Then I have to put on a big down-filled coat, which makes me look even fatter and feel even grumpier.

Some mornings I run out the front door to start the car, barefooted and wearing whatever is lying in the floor. I have to go to the back yard and break the ice out of the dog’s water bowl. Still barefoot and wearing Duck Dynasty pajamas and a dress shirt. The only upside I can think of to winter is that I don’t have to mow the yard. I did hear of people mowing their yards on the warms days last week. Seriously? I will mow my yard in winter right after I shovel snow in the summer.

These are all pretty common reasons to hate winter, but I have more specific to me. I know I will be asked to go skiing or ice skating. I want to do both because I see people skimming down the slopes or drifting across the ice and they look so free. It’s just that I’m not one of those people.

My first and last attempt at ice skating took place a few years ago at Ober Gatlinburg. It wasn’t a complete fail, all things considered. I didn’t break a leg or even fall that I recall. The only moment I really remember was trying to skate to the girl I was with as calm and elegant as Cary Grant. I was pacing myself and measuring every stride so I would slide right into her arms. I was almost there. Then one of these little mini skaters that look like they were born with silver blades on their feet cuts me off. I tried to stop, but there are no brakes on skates.  I still slid right up to her with tears in my eyes and my legs straight out in the splits. It is the one and only time I have ever done the splits.

Skiing hasn’t been much better for me. I thought I was athletic enough to stand on two boards and slide down a hill. We stood on plywood and slid down hills when I was a kid, which was way before anyone heard of snowboarding.

We had a brief skiing class and I found it to be too easy. They said start on the bunny slope and I thought that slope is for sissies. I was still confident as I strapped on the skis and mounted the ski lift.

One thing they did not teach us in the class was how to get off of the ski lift. I did not know to raise my skis when I exited the lift. The nose of the skis dug straight into the snow and I face planted. The skiers behind me had to make another round on the ski lift while I uprooted myself from the snow.

It didn’t get much better when I started skiing.  I would take off smooth and then one leg would start wobbling like a loose tire. Next thing I knew I was face planting in the snow again. My skis would be 20 feet up the hill behind me. I would walk back up the hill while one of these little mini skiers that looks like they were born on skies would roll their eyes as they sped past me.

When I finally made it down the hill without falling, I stepped out of the skis into the lodge. There I drank hot chocolate and played ping pong. Both things I am pretty good at.

Bring on warm weather so there is no snow and I can run outside barefoot if I want. No one will ask me to ski or skate.