Skiing and Me

A life long journey

Skiing and Me
Me skiing circa 2007 (By: Hedy Zhou)

I’m so freaking pumped that ski season ⛷ is here! I’ve been going to Lake Tahoe with my family for ski trips pretty much since I could walk and they’ve been some of my fondest memories from growing up. We usually went with family friends around Christmas 🎄 and these trips were what I looked forward to the most every year. We’d spend a day driving and getting settled in. Then on the next day, everyone would wake up early to get ready for a full day of skiing. It was a whole operation. The hustle and bustle of our parents cooking breakfast 🍳, us kids getting changed, everyone making sure the cars were packed with the rentals, and getting to the resort always fired me up with excitement. After, we’d get our passes, we’d start planning (and sometimes bicker about) which trails to go on while our parents would head to the lodge to claim a table. It was so fun to be let loose on the mountain with my family friends and roam around together. We got to ski side by side, try harder trails together, and just be kids. And any time we were hungry or wanted a break, our parents would be waiting for us at the base ready with hot food 🍜 and a seat. I didn’t think a more perfect day could exist and over the course of these ski trips, my love for skiing was born.

But these trips only happened once a year and as I got older, they happened less frequently. With school, the lack of friends/family who enjoyed it as much as I did, and the inconvenience of driving 5 hrs to the mountains 🏔, it was impossible to ski as often as I wanted to. Eventually when I graduated college and these barriers were gone, I knew I had to do something that allowed me to ski as much as I could. So I decided to work at a ski resort in Colorado. (I was looking for any way to not work at a desk.) This was a chance for me to ski as much as I can and experience living in a new state.

The job I had at the ski resort and the small mountain town I lived in were both alright, but the skiing made being there worth it. I managed to get hand-me-down skis and boots for free and used them for my entire season. Other skiers gave me pointers and new techniques to work on and before I knew it, I drastically leveled up my skills from the plateau they were at. I taught myself how to ski switch and learned very quickly that tree skiing 🌲 was my favorite type. I even started to enjoy the challenge of skiing moguls. (I hated moguls as a kid because every time I accidentally went on a mogul run, I’d end up crashing into the trees.)

The more time I spent in the mountains, the more appreciative I was of my parents for taking me skiing all those years ago. I’m so grateful I have the skills to experience the mountain the way that I do. When I'm on my skis carving lines on the side of the mountain and moving according to its features, I feel so present and connected with my surroundings. In a way, I also feel like I’m dancing. As I'm making my turns and thinking about where to go, the mountain is taking the lead and showing me the choreography. Skiing keeps me in the moment and pushes all the noise out of my head. I feel free, challenged, happy, and relaxed. It’s the best combination of feelings that I haven’t found anywhere else or doing anything else. I feel alive when I ski.

After I decided it was time to leave the resort, I shed maybe a tear or two as I said bye to people. But during my last run of the season, I couldn’t hold back my tears and my heart physically hurt as I left the resort that day. It pained me so much to leave that I knew I had to keep skiing and that it was time that I got my own gear.

Luckily for me, a perk the ski resort employees got was access to deals from a variety of outdoor brands and products. We used a platform called ExpertVoice to redeem these deals and many well-known brands like SMITH, Helly Hansen, Oakley, Nalgene, La Sportiva, and more offered 50% off MSRP. (Some other brands had 40% off or 60% off. Insane, I know.) So obviously I took advantage of this opportunity and bought some stuff. I also waited for the end of the ski season to purchase some other pieces of gear I wanted that weren’t available on ExpertVoice.

Here’s a breakdown on the gear I bought this past year specifically for skiing:

An illustration of all the goodies I got (By: Hedy Zhou)
An illustration of all the goodies I got



Purchased Via


Original Price*

What I paid

Helly Hansen W Whitewall LifaLoft 2.0 Jacket 





Helly Hansen Powderqueen Bib Ski Pants










Purchased Via


Original Price*

What I paid

SPY Optic Marauder Snow Goggles





SMITH Liberty MIPS Helmet





Salomon Warden MNC 11 Ski Bindings

Evo (sale)




K2 Mindbender 98Ti alliance

K2 (sale)




Salomon S/PRO 100W

REI Garage Sale







*Not including shipping and tax

Ski Pass:

Epic Tahoe Local Pass


In total I spent $1,634.78 for my gear and $549.95 for my 22/23 season pass. I know to some people $2,184.73 sounds like a lot of money 💸 to spend on a sport or that I could’ve gone with less expensive brands and products. I will say that part of this large expense was for the convenience of not spending hours searching for the best possible bargain and I also saved up to buy nicer stuff. (I’m also usually pretty frugal when it comes to spending on things that don’t interest me a ton. For example, I barely eat out.) And since I plan on using this gear for the next 5-10 years, depending on wear and tear, I really think of these purchases as an investment for one of my favorite hobbies.

Having gotten all this gear, I had what I needed for my first ski set-up. A couple days ago I brought my bindings, skis, and boots to my local REI ski shop to get my bindings mounted. This service only cost me $24. A day later, they called telling me it was ready and I immediately picked it up. Finally having my gear ready to go made me feel like I’m prepared for the season and that I can actually call myself a skier. Like I’m officially ‘in’ and not an imposter renting gear each year. I’m committed now. I’ve put in the time, put down the money, and plan on making this sport a regular and larger part of my life.

Many ski resorts have already opened for the season. However, I won’t be skiing until maybe mid-December because of some travel I’m doing. To be honest though, the snow isn’t usually that great until then anyway. This also gives me time to find people to ski with this winter since none of my close friends enjoy skiing as much as I do. I’ve posted on my Instagram story and TikTok bio about how I’m looking for ski buddies and so far a couple people have connected with me about potentially doing semi-regular trips. Fingers crossed that it works out.🤞🏼I like skiing alone but moving around the mountain with friends is another league of fun and a huge bonding opportunity. It also doesn’t hurt to split the cost of gas⛽️ and housing 🏠.

When I look back on my journey with skiing, I’ve learned a lot along the way. If it weren’t for my parents introducing me to the sport, I don’t know if I ever would’ve ever gotten into skiing. I now know that introducing kids to a huge variety of activities at a young age is important for them to discover who they are and find what makes them excited about life. I’ve also learned that stepping out of your comfort zone, like moving to a mountain town, for the sake of being able to do what you love, is sometimes necessary but so worth it.

My skiing journey is nowhere near finished. I want to continue improving my skills, ski in new places, try out other types of skiing (like backcountry, cross country, and touring), and meet more people who enjoy skiing as much as I do. Hit me up on Instagram @hedyz__ if you’d like to plan a trip together (even if we aren’t already following each other or friends) Or if you just want to talk about skiing, I’m so down for that too :) I’ll see ya next week!