Look - Iím not really very good at skiing park. It doesnít come naturally to me, it takes me ages to learn something new, and I fall over a lot. Donít get me wrong - despite all this, I absolutely love it. But after one particularly icy session at MK two weeks ago, the side of my butt is bruised and totally purple and I canít help thinking that somethingís gotta give. Iím 22 and pretty average, with no great hopes of getting sponsored or competing at a high level. I could carry on skiing and falling over for another ten years - and that got me to thinking. How much is too much? When will getting a badly bruised butt not be funny any more? And as far as skiing park goes, when is enough enough?
I guess what Iím really getting at here is age. During the same session where I got purple, I watched an old guy on a snowboard. Iím not really sure of his age - he had a wrinkly face and could have been anything from mid 50s to mid 60s I suppose. He seemed to be having a great time hitting some of the smaller features, and I was really stoked for him - until I saw him fall off a rather high flat-down box. Thereís no doubt he was really hurt - he must have been quite badly winded. Needless to say, I didnít see him riding after that, and Iíve been unable to get him out of my head. For me and my friends, falling over (unless you seriously hurt yourself) is still really funny: a few bruises for a few days after, and you can forget you ever fell over skiing at all. But for an older guy like that, the repercussions might go on for weeks. He just wonít recover that quickly, and the thought of that really terrifies me. Might I reach a point in the future where I canít afford to fall over any more? And how will I know when to call it a day?
Of course, this kind of debate totally depends on what level of skiier you are, and a consideration of general fitness canít be ignored either. There are loads of incredible individuals that are Ďstill shreddingí - people like Mike Douglas, Chris Davenport and of course Glen Plake continue to inspire generations of younger riders, and generally, if youíre really good at something, youíll find a way to keep doing it. Having said this, age is certainly something that the skiing community is aware of - countless times Iíve heard people jokingly complain about being shown up by really young skiiers, and what with kids like Kelly Sildaru and Aspen Spora, its clear that this kinda of progression is only going to continue. I was interested to see a Newschoolers thread a week or so ago that highlighted the age of the Line team (http://www.newschoolers.com/forum/thread/785608/The-line-team-needs-some-young-guns) - and that it needed some newer, younger riders. That Andy Parry and the gang are still going strong is awesome - I mean, theyíre not that old, and as one Newschooler recognised, ĎLG Strenio is agelessí. But surely there will come a time when that group of riders will stop skiing, or at least perhaps take fewer risks by moving away from the park and into the back country. You canít stay young forever, and whatís really got me torn is whether you should wreck your body doing what you want to while youíre young, or whether you should respect your body by taking fewer risks now. People say that injuries can come back you haunt you. Should we care?