I honestly think I could have won medals in the downhill. Maybe not gold, but I’d definitely have been on the podium. When it comes to skiing, I am a Norse god. I am the very definition of fluid, harmony, and grace in motion. That is, as long as I’m on a groomed run named after either a bunny or a Disney character. And, if you squint and ignore the 12 year olds flying past me. I am the original rock star of the groomed intermediate trails.
If you’ve ever hit the slopes you recognize that coolness factor some people exude. Those people who have the right gear, not too flashy, simple and comfortable looking. They never look cold or too hot, smothered in 20 layers of Walmart fleece. They never slip while slogging through an icy parking lot in ill-fitting boots. They ski fast and with a simple fluidity, skis close together, with an easy rhythm in any terrain. You hear them talking about runs you’ve never heard of, backcountry excursions, and levels of vertical that are vertigo inducing.
I am not one of those people. My gear never really works. My skis are of an “old school” vintage. In the cold my nose runs with a disturbing volume. I am either cold or sweating like I just ran a marathon. My legs lack the strength to go down a long run in one shot. I wear ill-fitting goggles I stole from my wife. My gloves are from Costco and my jacket was manufactured before the current crop of high schoolers were born. My poles are so old I honestly don’t remember where I got them. They may be rentals that never got returned.
When faced with terrain that tips more towards the vertical, my fluid, carving turns instantly become an awkward snow plow. Bumps and moguls? Only if you want to see a grown man cry. Deep powder? I have lost skis and spent thirty minutes trying to extricate myself from deep holes, only to repeat it fifty yards further down. Chairlifts? Yes, I have fallen off. I have run into trees, trail markers, other skiers, and a chairlift. I have fallen on flat cat tracks, in front of the lodge, in the parking lot, and while putting my skis on.
Why would I continue to subject myself to such abuse? Because I love the sport. I plan on skiing until the doctors tell me I can no longer continue for fear of permanent damage to my ego. Or until it becomes a risk to my fledgling mountain bike racing career.