About first-time skiing: never, ever let a redneck buddy with no common sense select your skis for you if you've never been skiing and have no clue. It turns out that "170cm leaf-shaped skis" are JUST A LITTLE BIT TOO FAST for a total newbie.
As for my skiing abilities:
1. Ability to remain upright at EXTREMELY high speeds - check
2. Ability to sorta kinda steer slightly, with much violent pole work - check
3. Ability to slow down in any shape, fashion or form - HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM!
This creates for some pretty entertaining incidents when the slopes are populated like rush hour through Charlotte in the rain, let me tell you. More than one hapless skiier was amazed by the sight of a big bastard in brand-new cheap ski gear bellowing too-little-too-late warnings (with a hideous doppler effect) while blasting by at approximately Mach 4 and frantically stabbing the ground with ski poles to try to avoid people... I never really did any major damage to anybody else because I'd kamikaze into the ground instead of plowing into somebody, but after one really earth-shattering meeting between my sternum and the slope, when I dazedly muttered "uggghh... I felt that" this random dude skiing by me said "dude, we all felt that."
As soon as I could breathe again, I laughed.
On the plus side, I quickly discovered that the best way to feel better about yourself after having a disastrous trip downhill is just to stand by the entrance to the ski lift queue all the way at the bottom of the mountain, where the "bunny slopes" feed in - about twice every five minutes, some cute chick will barrel into your back and knock you down. This might not sound so great at first, but the entertaining part is that then she'll immediately begin profusely apologizing, from the prone position, underneath you. "No honey, it's okay... really."
Incidentally, if you've never been to a Japanese hibachi restaurant and witnessed a redneck belting out David Allen Coe tunes from where he's set up in front of a rice paper mural and in between two bonsai trees - make a trip to Beckley, WV and check out "Hibachi Japanese Steak House." After the restaurant/bar closes, you can go to one of two local after-hours hotspots - "The Hideaway Lounge", or "Hillbilly Shindig." I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. We had a black guy with us who absolutely refused to go to "Hillbilly Shindig", no matter how much I tried to convince him it was just bound to be full of white honeys that would doubtlessly be down for a little "brotherly love."
And finally, I met a cute girl and got the digits! Go me. Life is good. :)