Timberline Lodge

Timberline Lodge

“I’m glad I don’t have to learn how to do this again,” I thought at about 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8 while catching Tania Cacique Alvarez of Reforma Newspaper in Mexico City, as she gained a little too much speed during her first time on skis at Timberline Lodge and Ski Area.

As the media relations manager for Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory, I’m lucky enough to spend a great deal of my time exploring the area and showing it off to others, especially journalists researching articles. That was the case Saturday as I toured with a group of five Mexican journalists and their hosts.

But I wasn’t thinking about teaching beginners how to ski – though I switched to a snowboard over a decade ago – I was remembering the challenges I faced when I put on sticks for the first time about 16 years ago. My initial day on skis was a circus of lost poles, wet clothes and wounded pride. My first stab at snowboarding is more easily defined as just being wounded.

I never had an instructor, unless you count my teenage friends taunting me to go faster and laughing heartily as each crash became more explosive than the last. I switched to snowboarding after an injury (not ski-related) in my early 20s forced me to put the poles down forever, but the learning process was frighteningly similar. Now I insist all first-timers take a lesson from a professional instructor like those at Timberline.

So when Paloma Labastida (another Mexican journalist visiting the area) thanked me again for my patience and help while I scraped ice from her boot and helped her fit it securely back into the binding, it truly was my pleasure to share an activity I’m passionate about with a new friend. I know how important simple gestures – like scraping snow from a boot, stopping someone from falling or even just picking up a dropped ski pole for someone the first time they ski – really are. I remember how badly I wished I had someone patient to teach the sport to me.

That’s why I was so impressed with Ron from Timberline’s Ski School. His patient tone, impressive knowledge and obvious experience on the hill were priceless to our group. From how to fall and get back up to how to get off the ski lift, Ron taught the team the basics for two hours before turning us loose on Bruno’s (Timberline’s beginner lift). He even stopped a former-skier-turned-snowboarder from giving bad advice a couple times.

I had Tania by the shoulders now and she had been guided to a gentle stop. She was smiling and so was I. And we weren’t the only ones. A mother was skiing backwards slowing her young daughter in a similar way. A son was teaching his dad how to turn heel-side on a snowboard. Another instructor was explaining the “pizza” to a group of youngsters. Timberline was full of people learning, teaching and sharing the sports of skiing and snowboarding with each other. I was sharing it with some new friends from south of the border.

And it struck me how unique this place really is – though I often feel that way at Timberline and, really, Oregon in general. Generations of people on the hill, some from Oregon and some from much further away – all enjoying the legacy of this magnificent place under the watchful countenance of the 11,245-foot Mt. Hood. To me there is something uniquely American about that, uniquely Oregon! And I’m betting there’s a certain group of journalists I know who now wish it snowed a little more in Mexico.

Editor’s Note: Marcus Hibdon is the newest addition to our blogging team. Keep a lookout for his upcoming blogs on Mt. Hood Territory!

For more information on learning how to ski or snowboard this winter, please visit our new Ski Oregon site.

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