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7 Things to Love About Skiing 25 October 2010

Posted by magicdufflepud in Skiing.
Tags: , , , ,

Loveland’s lifts started spinning on Sunday. A-Basin opened this morning… in the middle of a blizzard. And this coming weekend, most Denverites will make their first pilgrimage to these white ribbons of death, careening and crashing and generally pleasing Ullr with their displays of dedication. No doubt I will find myself among them. I hope you will, too. To prepare, let’s take a moment together to review what makes skiing great.

1. Ski Movies. Every sport has its movies—women’s baseball even got A League of Their Own—but only in the ski industry is the start of movie season a cultural event. When the first chill arrives in the air and the first snow dusts the peaks, TGR, Matchstick and Warren Miller start rolling out footage featuring the best skiers our generation. The stoke starts building–and for that matter, people start using the word stoke again. And gnar, and all of that. These movies remind us all of what’s ahead, what’s possible.

2. New Skis. Okay, so it’s practically never a good idea to buy new skis at the start of a ski season, but who can deny the pleasure? So many varieties exist, each one an expression of ambition and personality–who we are. We broadcast so much when we we step into our bindings, and although we may tell ourselves otherwise, form matters almost as much as function. No one’s arguing that top sheet graphics are high art, but I’d still like to think my Dynastar Huge Troubles constitute my greatest contribution to the apartment’s aesthetic value.

3. The Gaper. No matter how poorly you ski, someone is always worse. And that someone is a gaper, a singular point of ridicule on the mountain. The gaper makes wedge turns in blue jeans, if he turns at all. He wears a BMX helmet to the bunny slope. On the lift, he wonders aloud why Vail hasn’t groomed away the powder yet. His Real Tree (TM) hunting outfit makes him a roving dealer of disaster in the glades he accidentally entered. The gaper is everywhere, and we can always laugh at his expense, so long as we remain well clear of his destructive path.

4. A-Basin. Arapahoe Basin is skiing. Better mountains exist, with more terrain, steeper steeps and faster lifts. None of them, however, so concentrates the spirit of the sport. And to tell you the truth, I don’t know why that is. Colorado’s true skiers chose A-Basin, the Pallavicini Face, the East Wall and the Beach. And they made them their own. The dogs and the beer run freely while the vacationers stay down the hill at Keystone or bypass Summit entirely, heading for the more well-heeled resorts of Eagle County. Well-heeled in a sense, I guess. I’ve seen scuffles at Vail, lift-line jockeying on a powder day–the kinds of behavior that never appear at A-Basin. No glamour. No glitz. Just skiing.

5. The Ski Bum. He’s young, white and operating your ski lift. Or—wait for it—he’s selling your ski vacation, driving your bus, tuning your skis, serving your dinner, ensuring the effortlessness of your visit. The ski bum is an American icon, plying the boundaries of socially acceptable irresponsibility. Ski bums run ski resorts, many of them sacrificing rewarding careers and sex lives for the opportunity to chase the 100-day season. Honor these idealistic young men. Skiing is their religion, and for it they give up sex. They give up money.  So little of either exists for men in the mountains. Honor the women, too, for putting up with money-starved, sex-crazed men.

6. Apres-ski. Without skiing, apres-ski wouldn’t exist. We’d just have to call it drinking. The apres scene unfolds differently, though, in front of a roaring fire with Irish coffees all around and stories of the day’s successes and disasters. Yard sale in front of a bunch of kids? Re-live it. Huck a 15′ cliff? Remind your friends. The fire crackles and the mugs are re-filled. Another round of stories: the first time you all skied powder, the terrible falls taken under the lift, the near-miss at speed in the trees. Every moment is one of snow falling and lights twinkling and the epic powder days still waiting on the horizon.



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