Last weekend was all about hanging out with family and learning to ski at Wisp Resort in McHenry, Maryland since we booked a ski trip in Austria without ever having skied before. My Aunt and Uncle have a house at Deep Creek Lake that is down the road from Wisp so what better time to reunite with family and take a quick ski lesson?! With less than a month before we hit the Austrian slopes, we eagerly said YES to a weekend at the lake with my cousin and her husband.
Deep Creek Lake is a man-made lake in McHenry, Maryland (a 3-hour drive from the Washington, D.C. area). It is the largest inland body of water in Maryland with 69 miles of shoreline and has the only ski resort in Maryland. There are 34 trails and 12 lifts at Wisp, with great skiing for beginners and more challenging trails for experienced skiers.
The Subaru WinterFest combined with unseasonably warm temperatures brought a ton of people to Wisp last Saturday. I wish it was 50 degrees in Seaside, FL the other week. It was a little more crowded and definitely more expensive than a typical weekend. I recommend checking the activity calendar and the rates before booking your trip.
Fist up, renting gear and signing up for a lesson in the Himalayan Yurt. We each rented boots, skis, poles, helmets, and purchased a lesson and a one-day lift pass. Once we finished securing the necessities there were only a few minutes before the next lesson started so we had to rush outside to get in line. Renting equipment and purchasing a list pass almost took an hour so plan accordingly when arriving at Wisp if you are taking a lesson.
A ton of people had the same idea to take a lesson at 10am so there was quite a rush of people waiting to be paired with a certified instructor for a 90-minute “first-timer and beginner” lesson. The four of us ended up in a group of 13 people, which was quite large for only one instructor.
We started inside a fenced in area where we learned the basics of putting your boot into the ski and how to release your boot from the ski. Piece of cake, right? Quickly after that we put our skis on and headed outside of the fenced in area to learn the basics of side stepping up an incline, how to stop (pizza) and how to turn.
I was one of the last people in our group to go because I couldn’t side step up the incline to save my life. I kept sliding backwards despite my “best” effort. By the time I made my way far enough up the incline for my turn I immediately fell backwards and slid down the hill.
I pulled myself together and got in position for my second turn. Feeling a little shaky from the fall, I took off, literally. In my head, I thought I was braking and in “pizza” position the entire time (about four feet) but my fellow skiers will later tell me that I was indeed in the downhill “french fry” position with no signs of stopping, that is until I CRASHED into the mesh ski fence in the photo above.
At this point blood, sweat, and tears were shed and we were only minutes into the lesson. I took a time out and watched the rest of the group for a few minutes until I regained my composure in time to board the magic carpet.
It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t pretty but I managed to make it to the top of the bunny hill with the rest of the group.
The yurts at the bottom of the hill felt SO far away.
It was surprisingly flatter ground on top of the bunny hill so it was somewhat easier to learn the basics. At this point I figured out how to “pizza” and pretty much only used the “pizza” position for the rest of the day. What a work out.
We successfully completed the lesson and decided to get a few more practice runs in before heading to the snack yurt for lunch. With a lot of guidance and step by step instructions from the ski instructor, I managed to slowly make my way down the bunny hill several times without wiping out!
After lunch, we were feeling accomplished so we decided to try one of the “green trails”, a level up from the bunny hill.
The ski instructor recommended the Happy Camper and Possum trails. It was a combined one mile long trail. The trail was on the icy side and the snow was starting to melt. It was a bit more complicated than I would have liked for my first post-lesson run. In between falls, I literally braked in the “pizza” position the entire way down. My cousin somehow managed to end up in the mud, off the trail several times. We were falling apart and needed to get back to the bunny slope ASAP!
Two thumbs up once back on the bunny trail!
After hitting the bunny slope for a few more run, I joined my husband back on the green trails while my cousin and her husband checked out the Subaru Fest. My husband was a natural out there (on top of the bunny slope) and is ready for Austria. Look at that form!
I was getting the hang of it, but I was starting to fall apart because I was extremely tired and sore from all the “pizza” moves and falling so we called it a day after two more runs on the green trails.
Between a lesson and hitting the trails on our own, we spent five hours at Wisp and it was a day well spent to get a feel for all of the gear and equipment and to learn the basics. It also verified the need for many more hours of lessons in Austria.
I am excited to get back out there and can’t wait to shred the Austrian slopes. Hopefully their ski fences are just as welcoming when I come crashing into them at “top” speed.
We’re finalizing details for a two-part European adventure, a couple of days in Munich, Germany followed by some skiing in Obergurgl, Austria so stayed tuned for a recap on where we stayed, skied, and what we did while in Austria.
Question: How did you learn to ski? Any advice?