If you’ve ever been skiing, you’ve heard the phrases “pizza” and “french fries” used as verbs. If not, below is a chart explaining what they mean:
It seems relatively simple: point your toes inward for pizza, and keep them pointed straight downrange for french fries. Unfortunately, knowing what these phrases mean does not directly correlate to being able to accomplish the move. Furthermore, the phrase “slow down” should not be confused with the phrase “go slow,” and certainly not “come to a complete stop.” You can still go quite fast if you are in the pizza position, and stopping is not guaranteed by any means.
We’re not going to have vocabulary quizzes in this course, but linguistics are nonetheless important. Unless you want to present yourself as ignorant, make sure you know exactly what you’re saying before you post a tweet, a blog, or a comment.
A couple weeks ago I went on a ski trip to Waterville Valley, NH, with some of my MBA classmates. This was the first time in my life to ski, and I was stoked! To be safe, I took the beginner lesson. What a bore! We started by trying to make a turn by only wearing one ski and only after an hour of drills did we transition to actually skiing down the bunny slope. I discovered the drills were more or less useless and that the best way to get better was by doing. Even though the bunny slope was imperceptible compared to even the green or blue trails, I was ecstatic to finally be skiing! It felt smooth. Of course, I fell a couple times, but I was happy to be moving.
During the instruction, the only real feedback I got from my instructor (other than the obligatory “You’re doing great Bobby!”) was to make sharper turns. “Alright, I’ll work on that,” I thought to myself.
Finally, after finishing the two-hour lesson my instructor warned me to be extremely cautious, “Your friends are going to try and drag you to ski Valley Run, but you’ve got to practice first! Also, don’t go on a ski lift until you’ve been with someone who knows what they’re doing.” I questioned his assumptions. My friends weren’t going to drag me to Valley Run: Valley Run was the easiest trail on the mountain. My friends were skiing double black diamonds! Don’t get on a ski lift? I’ll figure it out. How complicated could it be?
If you are always waiting for the opportune moment, then life will pass you by with a bunch of missed opportunities. That doesn’t mean you throw caution to the wind, but life can be a lot more fun if you chill out a bit. Have fun with your blog! Don’t just do what you think is ‘expected.’
The First Run
After my beginner course instruction, I had two choices: wait around for two hours for my experienced friends to finish skiing, or venture out on my own and hit the slopes. Of course, I chose the slopes. Boarding the ski lift? Not too bad. As I pulled the safety bar down over my head, I thought, “This technology really isn’t that secure. Oh well.” Adrenaline was coursing through my veins. I was about to ski on a real trail! The wind was howling; I was freezing; and I couldn’t be more excited.
I was at the top! This was game time.
I only wiped out three times on my first run. I was later told that this was “pretty good” for a first time. Despite the bumps and bruises, I was instantly hooked. What a rush!
Once we really get going in this class, I think ‘gravity’ is going to do all the real work. We’ll be speeding along with tweets and discussion, but it won’t feel like we’re being sapped by a dead sprint. I think we’ll be trying to figure out how to do ‘cool moves’ and go even faster.
The Last Run
I honestly can’t remember how many runs I went on, but my group was at Waterville for three days, so it was quite a few. On the last day of the trip, all eight of us started to ski together. I earned the nickname “Bobby Bullet” because of my ridiculous speed. Because I didn’t know how to slow down, I would take the lead, so I wouldn’t slide tackle anyone the way I had accidentally bowled through a stranger the day before (Don’t worry. Other than my guilty conscience, everyone ended up unscathed). For the most part, this method worked pretty well. The only times I wiped out were when I second-guessed myself, wondering which trail to follow. Otherwise it was smooth sailing for all of us MBA candidates.
With just a few hours left to ski, we regrouped once more at the top of the mountain and decided we’d follow a blue trail. Once again, I took the lead. This time I was skiing at record speed. If I’d been skiing on any other surface, sparks would have been flying everywhere. I felt unstoppable. I felt unstoppable – until I came to a sudden stop.
As mentioned before, I wasn’t very good at turning. One friend described my zig-zagging ski method as “slightly changing directions but still going straight down the mountain.” My lack of skill at turning was most evident on this final run of the day when I veered slightly off course. I hit a rough patch of snow, and I knew immediately things were not going to end well. I bent over and braced for impact. Suddenly I caught air and went flying superman-style – arms straight ahead and legs behind me – and shot through a mound of snow. While my right ski disengaged as it was supposed to, my left ski decided to stick around for the ride. Unfortunately, the large surface of the ski assured that it would not travel as smoothly through the snow pile as the rest of my body did. The ski dragged through the snow and thoroughly wrenched my left leg.
To make a long story short, what I lost in velocity, I gained in leg injuries: two femur fractures, two ankle fractures, and a torn ACL. I had gone to the injury buffet and stacked my plate three times higher than it should have been. Had I instead gone to the “pizza” buffet and slowed down, perhaps I wouldn’t be writing this, but at least a good story lasts longer than a good time.
Thankfully I had a good friend skiing right behind me who gathered the assistance I needed after the accident. Ski Patrol, EMTs, and eventually doctors patched me right up. A lot of people have been extremely helpful in this recovery process. Now that I’m starting to heal up, my friends can make countless “Pizza, Bobby, Pizza!” jokes.
When Professor Kane said he was getting pizza for the class, I couldn’t help but laugh.
There better not be any broken femurs caused by Social Media and Digital Business class, but you might hit a rough patch. We’ve got to rely on each other to make it through. Of course, we’ll do our due diligence to minimize difficulties, but stuff happens. I know the TAs, Professor Kane, and even our classmates are here to help. I may not be able to go for a run with you any time soon, but if you need anything and think there is any chance whatsoever that I could help, please don’t hesitate to ask.