February 12, 2014
Growing Up With Snow
Posted by Urska Velikonja

For the second time within a couple of weeks, everything has closed down in Atlanta. Classes are cancelled and we are hiding indoors, hoping to avoid falling trees. Taking kids sledding brings back fun memories.

My name hints at the fact that I did not grow up in this country. I grew up in Slovenia and lived there until my mid-20s. In much of the U.S., we tend to see winter as dead time between fall and spring. Not so in Slovenia. We got plenty of snow yet school was virtually never cancelled because of snow. I learned to ski when I was three or four and skate soon thereafter. Every winter, public schools would organize ski trips for students. All fifth-graders spend a week in the mountains learning to ski or sled (and fourth-graders spend a week at the beach learning to swim). Tina Maze's Olympic gold in women's downhill today is awesome, but not surprising. In fact, Slovenia's current tally is 4 medals, and I'm expecting a few more.

To be sure, not everyone in the country skis. But many do, and it is indeed a national sport (and it used to be even moreso in Yugoslavia when everyone was more equally "poor"). It doesn hurt that lift tickets cost a fraction of what they cost here: the fanciest resort charges $43 for a day pass. The downside is that because everyone skis so well, I always feel inadequate on the slopes, and I'm a decent skier. However, not having to see Kim Kardashian roll ungracefully down the hill is an important upside.

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