A few weeks ago someone told me something that made me want to speak up. They told me that I come off to people as a “liar” when it comes to skiing, because “people talk about that kind of stuff. “ As in, people think that because I am a girl and from St. Louis, Misery there is no possible way I could be good at skiing. To have a fellow skier tell me that was a huge low blow on their part. Like dude, you must know nothing at all about what it means to be a skier.
So I wanted to write a little something for all of you Midwest skiers out there who get crap like this. The constant degradation of how you can’t be a “legit” skier if you aren’t from or live in a certain place is just absurd. And, it has kind of gotten to me. I don’t want to keep the ski-loving-freak side of myself, to myself anymore. I shouldn’t have to and neither should any of you.
See, the thing is I only really talk about skiing when someone asks, or recognizes something I say or watch or one of the random stickers I have on some random object of mine. I usually let people who want to talk about skiing come to me, because when you seek it out all you seem to find are wenches like the one mentioned in my intro paragraph. I mean, the conversations I enjoy most are the ones about some new Mutiny episode Stept just dropped, or the new batch of Saga gear, or how Andy Parry is a ridiculous supernatural freak with talent that everyone wishes they had. I guess I don’t really like telling people I am into skiing for the sole reason that most people don’t want to believe someone like me could be into a sport like this.
I grew up skiing down a 515-foot vertical drop ski resort about 30 minutes from my house in St. Louis. Hidden Valley. It isn’t much, but it’s something. In fact, it wasn’t until the end of high school that I realized how all this time this little place was a sort of haven to my skier friends and me.
As a kid, we would go to Hidden Valley every Friday night and on the weekends to ski or snowboard, and do whatever it is that middle school kids do for enjoyment. Man, it was (and still is) so much fun. I never once thought it was “weird” to be skiing or snowboarding in Missouri. But I guess some people do think that developing a passion for skiing having come from a really fun pretty cool small-ish ski resort is weird…
I always loved watching the older, “cooler,” kids slide on the big metal rails and boxes in the terrain park and do spins off of the “big” kickers. It always looked like so much fun and from the start I wanted to do that too. When I was about 13, I took the terrain park for a spin on a church ski trip to Sundown Mountain in Iowa. I tried the boxes first. It was easy!!! And more importantly, it was SO MUCH FUN. When I got back to Hidden Valley I quickly discovered the terrain park as my new favorite run to lap over and over and over again. I could not (and still can’t) get enough of it.
I tried spins and inverted jumps and grabs and spins off kink rails and man…park skiing is just too fun. Of course I am telling you this, but you already know it. But, I am a girl and from St. Louis, MO and that’s really all I know, park skiing. Everyone has his or her “thing.” Some kids grow up ski racing down huge mountains all over the western and the eastern parts of the country, or some will ski their entire lives and never touch a chairlift, and others will only ski when they decide a ski vacation suits them best. But not me. Not my friends. We have Hidden Valley, where we ski the crap out of four short months of rails that are made of rust and tetanus, and run-ins are about as wide as my wrist, and landings that look like the first 15 minutes of saving private Ryan. And for us, it’s just perfect.
The point of me writing this is to give a voice to all of those unlikely skiers out there. Whether you are male or female or gay or straight or whatever it is that you are, and whatever you do, just keep doing it with passion. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Never let those ignorant skiers talk about you as if you are a lesser person than you are.
Just take Nick Goepper for example. He is from a similar background as my Hidden Valley friends and me. However, that never stopped him. Not only is he an Olympic bronze medalist but one of my biggest idols, as well as a crucial part of innovation to the sport of freeskiing today. What if he had gotten discouraged and stopped skiing because some dumb kid told him he was making up the fact that he was able to ski really well? I do not really want to think about that because that would just be a terrible situation on its own, but you get the point.
So the next time someone tries to call you a “liar,” or ask you if, “you even ski bro?” just because you have gone against the grain of what is considered normal, remember that they don’t know the first thing about what it means to be a skier. Because nobody, nowhere, can kill your passion for something.