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Surviving the Slopes This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Fridtjof Nansen once said, “It is better to go skiing and think of God, than go to church and think of sport.” If you’ve never been skiing, then this probably has no meaning for you. For me, however, these words are ironic because whenever I go skiing, I never stop praying. Not in the way most people pray (like for world peace or a new car), I pray for help, help to get down the mountain in one piece.

The day after Christmas I was packed and ready to go. It felt like I was about to embark on an adventure with the world at my feet. I felt empowered and I knew something magnificent was going to come out of the trip. I was excited to spend an entire week with my best friend, Lindsay, hanging out and enjoying winter. Early Monday morning my youth group met in the church parking lot and boarded our bus for the ski trip.

Once at the mountain, the skiers made it look so easy the way they floated gracefully down the hills. By the time I got my skis and boots, I was confident I’d be a fantastic skier. During lessons, I zoomed past my classmates. I had mastered the art of skiing within 30 minutes - or so I thought. We spent most of the day on the bunny slopes, and by the end we were flying down the hill. Exhausted, we went back to our rooms, complaining about the pain our ski boots had caused. Lindsay and I, tired and cranky, had pretty much decided we weren’t skiing the next day. Well, of course, our friends wouldn’t hear of that.

So, the next morning we found ourselves in line for the ski lift. The metal deathtrap that wound its way up the mountain loomed ahead. Lindsay and I stared helplessly at each other, our eyes conveying nothing but fear. I stood stark still waiting for the chair and before I knew it, I was floating up the mountain. When I finally opened my eyes, I gazed out from behind my fingers. It was truly beautiful. The view was heavenly and I had never seen anything like it in my life. Once I landed at the top in one piece, I eagerly thanked God for saving me from almost certain death.

Standing at the top of the trail, skis pointed downward, I took a deep breath and glanced at Lindsay. Giving each other an encouraging nod, we lowered our goggles. After a few moments of silence, I realized I was shaking. I wasn’t the only one. Lindsay’s poles kept tapping rapidly against the sides of her boots.

“Lindsay, these six-year-olds are zooming past us like this is a piece of cake. We can’t just stand here and look like sissies. Let’s just go and get it over with,” I said. Laughing, we both said a quick prayer and took off.

At first I barely moved, but slowly I allowed myself to gain some speed. Soon I was whooshing down the hill, having a blast. Then it happened. I realized that I had to stop. I tried everything. There was only one final option, falling over. Believe me, falling head over heels is a lot more painful than it looks. After rolling for what felt like eternity, I lay still. Everything hurt, and as soon as I sat up, I knew there was no way I could keep going. I was done. Toast. I wasn’t the only one; soon enough Lindsay came rolling to a stop a few yards away.

Once we got up and brushed the snow off, the truth hit us. We still had half the mountain to go. Shaking and on the verge of tears, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up, and Lindsay gave me an encouraging pat. In that moment, I knew what a best friend truly is. Seconds later we were both on our way down the hill. Of course there were a few more falls, but we made it. At the bottom, I glanced up and felt a wave of relief and pride. I had conquered the mountain - or at least part of it. Standing there with my best friend was a major revelation in my life. Thanks to each other’s encouragement we had overcome our fears and the experience had made us even closer.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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