When "Ski Day #2" in Steamboat Springs rolled around, the weather forecast had been accurate... mostly. It was snowing, but it was more of a stinging sleet, on the edge of freezing. Unsurprisingly, that led to it being our shortest day on the mountain during the whole trip. Still, short also turned out to be sweet on this occasion.
We decided to stick with our friends and their kids this day. The kids were looking for the same "step up" to blues that I was, and I figured that practice around other people would be good for me. (True or not, I'd convinced myself that most of the falls I was taking were when other people skied too close to me and I overreacted.)
We went back to the same Tomahawk run I'd tried two days earlier, only this time you could actually see it. The snow/sleet cut down on visibility a bit, but it was nothing compared to the gothic fog that had been draped over everything 48 hours earlier. On this day, everyone else seemed to be taking the falls that had been meant for me. I slowly built confidence as I stayed upright through a few runs, and got further reassurance by seeing some of the veterans fall occasionally, as they paid more attention to the kids than to what they were doing.
My husband gave me another landmark tip to rival last year's "wide stance to snow plow" advice: I wasn't bending my knees nearly enough. I would revert to bad form from time to time, but that one tip was enough to get me gliding more easily through my turns.
When the kids tired out early and decided to ride the gondola back down the mountain, we opted for one last run to the bottom: a trail called Heavenly Daze. Just two days earlier, I would have never gone for it. For one, it was as steep or steeper than a Copper Mountain blue run that just a month earlier had beaten me up, taken my lunch money, and left me embarrassed. Worse, the trail starts off running right under the gondola for a good stretch -- and skiing for a perceived "audience" overhead (whether they're actually watching you or not) is a special source of anxiety for new skiers. (Well, me and one or two others I've compared notes with, anyway.)
By the end of the day, I was placing unreasonable value on having a "no falls" day more than on having a "push myself and improve"day. But I got lucky and had both. Even the ski-grabbing slush toward the end of the run didn't get the best of me, and I finished out the day with a sense of accomplishment.
The next day, we decided, my husband and I would strike out on our own -- ski all day until we'd had our fill, and really try to lock in my progress.