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For the Love of Skiing

It's a ski day at Whistler

As I don five layers of clothing (moisture wicking base first, merino wool layer second, various thermal things that will fit thereafter), carefully stick my toe warmers on top of my wooly socks, and wedge my foot into my cumbersome ski boot, forcing the buckles closed an aerobic exercise in itself, it strikes me that skiing is an absurd sport.  I stuff my pockets with money, tissues, hand warmers, lip balm and granola bars, and head out into the dark morning looking like the Michelin Man as I juggle my helmet, skis, pole and gloves, with no free hands to do things like open doors.

Despite dressing at a speed that could rival the Six Million Dollar Man, I’m overheating before I get outside, the frigid outdoor temperatures turning my sweat into an ice cube that inconveniently coats my body, transforming me from a barbecue to a freezer before I can yodel yard sale.

But then I’m at the lift and anticipation washes over me: some days you ski, and some days you don’t. This one I’m skiing.

Symphony Bowl - can you hear the music?

I can never decide what I like best about skiing: The vistas, when you have them? The act of hurling yourself down a mountain at break-neck speed? Floating almost effortlessly through champagne powder? Laughing, (hopefully, once you make sure all of your digits are moving) with friends over good wipeouts? Enjoying a cold beer apres-ski? The thigh burning workout, always negated by a big bowl of chili and white bread at lunch?

Even the days they are handing out garbage bags at the lifts to shield you from the rain, spending a day skiing always seems better than the alternative.

Unlike the real world of line-ups, in front of a ski lift everyone is happy. A sea of smiling faces. After you! No, after you!  How do you like those skis? Have you been to Symphony Bowl today? Typical chatter amongst skiers, comfortable in the skiing fraternity. There is hope for humanity after all. This is one of the things I love about skiing.

A bluebird day, clear skies making the white snow glow neon.  Peaks and snow and sky as far as the eye can see, skiers darting like ants back and forth down the slope. I breathe mountain air and it goes straight to my soul. Surely this must be the best thing. This is why I love skiing.

Gliding over a piste you spy some untouched powder and want to be the first to trace an s-like trail through it; never mind it comes out looking more like a mathematical equation – you floated! This, surely, is what I love the most.

In the gondola, you strike up a conversation with the woman next to you, who has traveled from Hong Kong or Austria or New Zealand and is in love with your country, telling you how lucky you are to live here. Reminding me. This, too, I love.

Sitting afterwards in a crowded bar as a local musician covers Free Falling drinking cold Kokanee Gold, in the company of friends who also have aching legs and some war stories from the day. The apres-ski tradition is surely the best part of skiing. Or is it?

Black Tusk sitting above the cloud cover, up where we belong

As each part of the ski day unfolds my loyalties shift, my favorite aspect changes like the snow conditions at Whistler; swiftly and without warning.

  1. lucieloves
    January 25, 2011 at 5:39 am

    you are making me pine for the hills Deanna!! To Ski or Apres-ski, that is the question 🙂

    • January 27, 2011 at 6:00 am

      BOTH, always both, like milk and cookies: you can’t have one without the other.

  2. January 25, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    I have never wanted to ski…until I read this post. Super well-written and descriptive. Love it!

    • January 27, 2011 at 6:00 am

      Ideally, choose a warm sunny day to embark on this sport!

  3. Ellie S
    January 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Your posts are really great, Deanna – one of the things I love about skiing is that it takes one out of one’s life – all you focus on is the action of skiing – getting down the hill, turning, your form…combined with the fresh air, the fact that it’s great exercise and the community of skiers you describe so well – it’s an ultimate vacation, even if for the day.

    • January 27, 2011 at 6:05 am

      You’re right: it does absorb you in another world. But sometimes I think about the people who have flown in from another far corner of the earth to ski everyday, who could also have easily chosen a Caribbean destination for their holiday. Instead of their bikini, they put on twenty pounds of gear each day. There really is something addictive about it.

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