There are countless times when you see a young skier ride through the park at any resort. Almost immediately as this happens, there are always a few guys who grumble about how they aren't going to do anything. All eyes are on this skier when it's his or her turn to go through the park. Next come the countless complaints from the guys waiting on the drop-in. They complain that the kid is ruining the lip of the jump as he rolls over the top, they laugh if the skier knuckles badly and falls, they complain that the kid is ruining all the lips to the rails as he or she uses them as a small jump, and finally they complain if the skier just goes through the park without hitting anything at all. Why, as a skiing world, do we do this to the younger generation? Why do we knock them down and laugh at them when, instead, we should be giving them tips or pointers to help them become better and prevent them from injuring themselves? What is the point of making the younger skiing generation feel badly about the way they ski, when all they want is to become a skier like so many of you on NewSchoolers.
I am not trying to point fingers or place and deflect blame because I know there are many skiers who do not do this, but I also know there are many that do. I am just asking why any of us do this at all. What do we gain from this? Is it pride, knowing that we are a better park skier than them? Or does it just make us feel better about the way that we ourselves ski?
Several years ago I was skiing through the park and my younger sister and her friends tagged along. At the time, she was only about 8 or 9, and fairly new to anything park related. As I took a few laps with them, I realized I was becoming increasingly annoyed with the fact that she was knuckling a few of the jumps and her friends were skiing off the sides of the lips for rails. Instead of trying to help her with jumping to save her feet and shins, I just blatantly asked why her friends were using the lips as jumps when they were ruining them for everyone else. Her answer was plain and simple. She told me they were not comfortable hitting the big jumps, so they used the smaller ones to get the hang of it. It was at that moment that my view of the younger generation was changed. They don't do it to annoy anyone; they just do it because they don't know any better. All they need is someone to step up and teach them how to do it properly.
I hear a lot of comments on how the younger kids are ruining the lips of jumps and rails, but in all reality they aren't ruining the fun for anyone. Sure they might knock the lip down a bit, but that's what the park crew is there for. You may miss a run or two, but suck it up. Not being able to hit a rail or jump that you wanted to isn't going to kill you. If you are that worried about it, wait at the top of the park for the crew to finish fixing it.
I want to bring my point around again, about how we should be helping these kids learn. We should be cheering them on when they land a jump or are able to hit a box even if they just hit it straight. We shouldn't be laughing at them if they knuckle and fall or complaining that they can't do anything "cool". We should help them up and teach them the right ways to get things done in the park. I recently had the chance to talk to a girl from Norway who grew up skiing in the park but just recently switched to snowboarding. When I asked her why, she described it perfectly. She loved skiing and she was good at it, but it was too much of a competition amongst other skiers. Snowboarders are much more like "homies", as she put it. After she said that, I realized she was right. Skiers spend too much time trying to show off and knock others down when they don't show the same level of skill. Instead, we should be trying to help those who are not yet at the same skill level.
If you stop to think about it, those younger skiers look up to everyone who skis in the park, whether they are good or not. I remember when I first started skiing and I thought it was cool if they went off a jump even if they didn't land it. Why should we make fun of these kids if all they're doing is idolizing us and trying to become better skiers like us? Even if they just ski through the park without hitting anything, they do it to watch YOU. They don't ski through to hit anything themselves, they just like to watch everyone else do different tricks.
Do you remember back to the first time you hit a jump? It probably wasn't a big kicker in the terrain park, but just a small dinky little thing off the side of a trail. We all started at the same skill level, whether you'd like to admit it or not. You don't know the background of every skier. They may not have had enough money to pay for lessons like some skiers, and they may not have been able to pay for many lift tickets at all. The fact of the matter is that they just want to enjoy the park as much as everyone else, but they cannot do that if we are constantly knocking them down. When it comes down to it, they just want to enjoy the terrain park like everyone else does, without being put down or made fun of. So, I'll ask you again, why do we do this to someone who is just trying to have fun? I say, let them have fun on the mountain, wherever that may be. Let them use the lips of rails as a jump if they are uncomfortable with hitting a big one. Let them roll over the tops of jumps and teach them the proper way to hit one. Just let them ski.