When Vienna, W.Va., resident Ann Dobbins skied for the first time in the early 1980s, she absolutely hated it and swore she'd never go again.
"The first time I went, it was miserable," she said. "I was cold, and I fell all the time."
But Dobbins didn't give up.
Photo courtesy of Mad River Mountain
Photo courtesy of Mad River Mountain
She continued to go on ski trips with a friend of hers and in 1985, she joined the Ohio Valley Ski Club.
Today, at the age of 60, Dobbins is still a skier. She takes ski trips out west at least once a year, and she skis at resorts closer to the Mid-Ohio Valley about three to four times each winter.
Dobbins compares skiing to riding a motorcycle.
"Once you've had a little success, it's something you get hooked on," she said. "It's the freedom - it's just you and the snow and the skis."
Although it takes more than an hour to get from the Mid-Ohio Valley to a ski resort, it seems skiing is still a popular sport among many people in the area.
Parkersburg resident David Decker, a member of the Ohio Valley Ski Club, said there are 140 units in the group, which includes families and individuals. The nonprofit organization, established in 1974, aims to promote snow skiing.
"We have all levels of skiers, from beginner to expert," said Decker, 57.
Decker started skiing at the age of 55. He describes himself as a "good intermediate skier."
"It came to me pretty naturally," he said. "It used to be I didn't enjoy winter, but now that I've started skiing, winter is probably my favorite season."
The first time they went out on skis, neither Dobbins nor Decker took lessons from an instructor. That is something Dobbins regrets.
"I would advise anybody starting out to sign up for a lesson," she said. "I've taken lessons after I got older, and they really do help ... they help with your confidence if nothing else."
Brian Papworth, marketing and events director at Mad River Mountain ski resort in Zanesfield, also said it's a good idea for first-time skiers to get lessons from an instructor.
"It's not that you can't teach yourself, but unless you want to get a few bumps and bruises, it's definitely better to get a lesson," he said.
Dobbins is all too familiar with injuries as a result of skiing accidents. Six years ago, a snowboarder crashed into her and broke four of her ribs. In 1996, she broke her arm while skiing and in 2000, she broke her leg.
Still, she said she wouldn't describe skiing as a dangerous sport.
"It's like driving - you have to go with your ability," she said. "If you try to ski (on a trail) you can't ski, then, yes, you'll probably hurt yourself."
In addition to receiving proper instruction, Papworth said folks should also make sure they have the proper equipment when they head to the slopes. He said professionals, such as those who work at ski resorts, can help people determine what skis, ski poles, boots and bindings (which hold the boots) are best for them.
Papworth added that it's just as important that folks bundle up when they go skiing.
"It's so much fun to be out there, but you're outdoors, and if you're cold, no matter what you're doing, you're not going to enjoy yourself," he said.
Jeff McLain, owner of Skiers Edge Sport Shop in Vienna, suggested that skiers wear layers, such as long underwear, a top that fits tightly (such as those as made by the Under Armour company), a sweater and a jacket, as well as ski pants and ski socks. He said skiers should also wear ski gloves, ski goggles and ski helmets.
"Ski helmets are getting real popular now," he said. "They're comfortable and warm so that you don't need to wear a hat underneath of them, and they're lightweight."
McLain said the deaths of Michael Kennedy (son of the late U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy) in 1997, music legend Sonny Bono in 1998 and actress Natasha Richardson in 2009 have prompted many people to wear helmets when skiing. All three died in skiing accidents.
According to a 2009-10 National Ski Areas Association National Demographic Study, 57 percent of skiers and snowboarders wore helmets, which is a significant increase from the 25 percent of skiers and snowboarders who wore helmets during the 2002-2003 season.