Dash­ing through the snow and ‘ let­ting it all go’

It was my third time on the ski slopes and I never felt so free, writes Yang Yang.

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

My mother said I was born on a snowy day, and a snowy win­ter al­ways prom­ises a good har­vest in the com­ing year. Win­ter has thus be­come my fa­vorite sea­son and snow can al­ways cheer me up.

Afraid of wa­ter, I have never been a swim­mer; wor­ried about break­ing my legs, I never let my­self go on ice. How­ever, when I ski, I feel com­pletely free on snow.

When my air­plane fi­nally landed at the air­port of Chang­bai Moun­tain in Jilin prov­ince, I let out a sigh of re­lief. I hate fly­ing.

The mo­ment my friend and I walked out of the air­port, the clean air filled in my lungs. Com­ing from a city like Bei­jing that is in­fa­mous for its smog, I felt this was the first time in months that I dared to take in deep breaths.

At that time, I had just fin­ished work­ing on a sad story about the Nank­ing Massacre. Hav­ing been im­mersed in the bleak­ness of it for weeks, I wanted to free my­self from the heavy his­tory.

The hol­i­day vil­lage served us well. Even though it was the end of March, when the ski­ing sea­son was closing soon and few vis­i­tors came, the vil­lagers didn’t lower their ser­vice stan­dards. They picked us up at the air­port and sent us di­rectly to our ho­tel. Our room was com­fort­able and break­fast sat­is­fac­tory.

At the equip­ment cen­ter, we put on heavy boots, suits and hel­mets, and dragged the skis walk­ing slowly into the snow, or more specif­i­cally “snirt”, since thou­sands of skiers had tramped on and soiled the snow.

At this time of the year, there was no snow­fall on Chang­bai Moun­tain, the tem­per­a­ture at night was ris­ing above 0 C. Some of the trails had been shut down. But the bright side was that there were fewer skiers so that some­times, it seemed like you were in the “king­dom of iso­la­tion”, you were “the Queen”, as the song

from the mo­tion pic­ture goes. This was my third time ski­ing, and I had mas­tered the ba­sic skills: how to speed up or slow down; shift the weight of my body; not to squat back­ward, use more of the an­kles to work on the skis; and most im­por­tantly, re­lax and trust one­self.

My friend started from scratch. I taught her the ba­sic skills and she kept prac­tic­ing on the pri­mary runs. Soon we were ready to try a more dif­fi­cult trail.

The mid­dle-level trail was steeper than the pri­mary’s and you could pick up speed very quickly. It also pro­vided more chances for skiers to prac­tice how to make small turns.

It took only sev­eral min­utes to fin­ish the ski­ing on the trail, but tak­ing the slow ca­ble car up to the top of the moun­tain took up much more time. Once or twice, I found I had no com­pany be­sides the staff run­ning the ca­ble cars.

I put on my gog­gles, took a deep breath and po­si­tioned my­self to rush down the moun­tain. There was no­body in sight, there were only trees in the per­fect white world, wind blow­ing in my face, and the whooz­ing sounds made by the skis rub­bing against the sur­face of the snow.

Down the steep­est part, I com­pletely let my­self free. I felt the skis had be­come parts of me, and this wood in the snow was home. I had never been more con­fi­dent and free. I turned to look at the trees on the two sides of the trail, opened my arms to em­brace na­ture, and even started to sing

loudly. I was so ex­cited. This ex­cite­ment was dif­fer­ent from the thrill of be­ing on a roller coaster that rolled 360 de­grees. It was dif­fer­ent from the time I con­quered my fear of wa­ter while at sea, snorkeling to see the col­or­ful views hid­den un­der­wa­ter.

Ski­ing re­laxes me. I felt just like those trees, and I be­longed here. I felt brave and pow­er­ful. The bleak­ness that had shrouded me for weeks was gone.

How­ever, when I tried go­ing down the trail a sec­ond time, I some­how shifted my at­ten­tion from the view to my feet.

I wanted to try some new skills, and my body got stiff. On the flat­test part of the trail af­ter speed­ing up, I de­cided to im­i­tate ath­letes whom I had seen on TV to make some beau­ti­ful turns, but my legs be­came tan­gled and I fell.

Af­ter ly­ing on my stom­ach for sev­eral sec­onds, I stood up quickly, geared up and con­tin­ued with my fa­vorite sport.

On the third day, the tem­per­a­ture was so warm that most of the trails were closed. I sug­gested to my friend that we should try the high­est level trail — the red one — that was still open.

She hes­i­tated, but agreed fi­nally. We tramped to the high­est peak, and I of­fered to take a look at the steep­est part of the run. The ski shop’s staff dressed up as though they were mem­bers of a na­tional team train­ing there. They ad­vised us not to try.

We took their ad­vice, but we swore that we would try it the next time. Con­tact the writer at yangyangs@ chi­nadaily.com.cn


Clock­wise from top: Nor­way’s Pet­ter Reis­tad com­petes at the 2015 China Tour de Ski in Nalati, Xin­jiang.


Hemu vil­lage; tra­di­tional Tuvan fur skis.


Panoramic view of Chang­bai Moun­tain; ‘snow al­ways cheers me up.’

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