Korea has snow. Korea has mountains. Korea has skiing!
I’ve never been skiing until recently. My parents never took us skiing, and the local resort (Ober Gatlinburg) never held much appeal. Plus, I don’t usually seek out athletic activities. Most sports require longer limbs and more coordination than I have been blessed with. I prefer exercising my wit with puns and snide remarks to actual physical exertion. However, there are a plethora of little resorts around us, and Jared has been talking about skiing for months; so I knew it was only a matter of time before I was out on the slopes.Luckily, a good friend of mine is a former ski instructor and, as we are the same size, she was able to loan me everything I needed to get started. My first ski adventure was a few weeks ago as we ventured to Pyeongchang, which is west of Seoul. Haven’t heard of Pyeongchang? You will! It’s the home of the 2018 winter Olympics! We joked that they are probably more prepared for the Olympics than Sochi! (Sorry, Sochi).
We rented a condo in Alpensia and spent our first evening skiing on the small slopes behind the resort. My friend took a lot of time to coach me. I started with taking small steps on my skis, and then quickly progressed to gliding, turning, stopping. My friend taught me the proper form, and Jared kept complimenting my posture. However, I have a tendency to lock up when I’m nervous. I’m pretty sure my good form was a result of fear to change position rather than natural talent. Whatever, good posture is good posture! I was taught to turn using my toes; press with my right toe to turn left and vice versa. My left toes did not want to turn me to the right. At all. There I was, screaming, “left toe! left toe,” but I just kept going straight. Then suddenly, I could easily turn without even thinking of my toes. Of course, I took a couple of falls during my lessons and even knocked down my dedicated teacher.
The next day we went to Yongpyong, the self proclaimed “mecca for winter sports” in Asia. This resort had significantly more, longer, and better slopes than Alpensia. It was so beautiful because it snowed 3 or 4 inches overnight; the evergreens were weighed down with the fresh snow. My friend progressed my lessons to using poles, hop turns and hop stops. I have to admit that my skill pretty much plateaued at this point. However, I was off the bunny slopes and cruising down the greens with fewer falls. At one point we decided to try the mega green as a group, our chosen path included a ski lift to the top of one hill and down the backside to catch another ski lift. The hill we skied down to get to the second lift was actually the end of a black, and the top of the mega green was classified as blue. (For skiing novices like I was, the classifications go from easy to difficult: green, blue, black.) Steepness equals speed, and speed made me a little anxious. I think the speed wouldn’t bother me as much if I were the only one there. Other skiers, steepness, and speed- it was too much for my first weekend!After our first weekend in Pyeongchang, we followed up with a day of skiing at Konjiam resort, only 40 minutes from our house. (See featured image.) This resort was smaller than Yongpyong, and all the snow was fake. I feel that since I am so new to the sport and only experience part of the slopes, I cannot really give good reviews on each place. I preferred the Mega Green at Yongpyong, but really liked the padded ski lifts at Konjiam. See? Not a very helpful review. Jared has skied more than I have and said that none of the places we have visited have been as nice as Breckenridge in Colorado.
But I skied! And moderately successfully too! Yes, I was chilled and may have severely bruised my tailbone, but I have recovered and am willing to try to improve my skill. Although I wouldn’t say that skiing is my new favorite hobby, I enjoy it well enough to keep going. I think I definitely enjoyed it more than the numerous people I saw learning to snowboard. I felt that there were only two types of snowboarders, those who were really good, and those who were sitting down. There were so many snowboarders falling, sitting, scooting, and just giving up; they just didn’t seem to be a successful bunch. There was also one who crashed right into me. Not cool. The Korean snowboarders and skiers all had one thing in common. They looked good. Apparently, skiing in Korea is like hiking in Korea. You’re only as good as your outfit.
Jared’s ultimate goal is to have me be a proficient enough skier that we can justify ski vacations (it all comes back to travel). We were hoping to visit northern Japan this winter to ski, but that may need to wait until next winter. I’m sure I’ll be out on the slopes soon!
*Sorry for the shoddy photography; I didn’t take my camera with me- iPhone only!