{"Why is it so fun?"}

Skiing is the outlet, the community, and the risk that captivates all of us. It's hard to begin to describe anything that truly envelopes and overtakes your life; simply trying to categorize why skiing is such a large part of my life is one of the hardest questions I ever get asked. "Why is it so fun?". Silence. Even an offhand question, an infinitesimally small, trivial inquisition brings an overwhelming sensation of "If only you knew..."

Being a Coloradan high schooler, I see kids make terrible choices everyday. At my school, heroin is such a problem that our 1st Google images hit is a bunch of needles with the caption "Heroin Bust". It's tough, especially when those kids are too wealthy to have ever had enough adversity in their lives to drive them to such a condition. For them, drugs are an escape. For all the others, we search relentlessly for something that offers peace and serenity. Skiing is, at its most basic form, a metaphor of life; at the top of the mountain, our view is unobstructed and clear, as a kid, I think I know what I want to do with my life. But as we begin skiing, pass turn-offs towards other runs or parks, and head down the mountain, our possibilities shrink. The once frightening Double Black concedes its enjoyment to the park, and before I know it, I wait in line at the base of the mountain, eager to be carried up by the lifts in search of another dose of escape. Again, like life, the lift is a metaphor for escape and passion; devotion towards an entity that you can't describe or quantify. Skiing IS, because it doesn't force itself to be.

Even now, after skiing for 10 years, it's still impossible to captivate others with the sense of pride accompanying your first backflip, 3, or backcountry kicker; the first time you actually hit a rail or launched off a competition size jump. The rush, adrenaline, and unity with the mountain, the slopes, and the crisp air blend into an interpersonal awareness that you are part of something bigger: community.

Any community in the world thrives upon its members; freeskiing has undeniably the most relaxed and unified base of supporters. This foundation of people who understand why you love skiing,why you are awestruck by the mountain, and why you come back every day for more are the core of skiing's draw. Fortunately, this support does not create a soft environment that fails to take risks. Out of skiing, more than any other sport or activity, comes positive risk taking. The commitment required to do anything outside of hit a 70ft kicker pales in comparison when the knot in your stomach turns over the first time you really stomp it. Now, I'm not afraid. Skiing is risk, because that risk builds far more confidence than anything else you could do. Luckily, I get to be around people who feel the same way about risk, community, and the need for an outlet the same way.

So why write when I have no credibility, no reputation, or no incentive? Because I love it. I can't begin to imagine how terrible it would be if for some reason I could no longer ski. Today, passing a man in a wheelchair, I realized how fortunate I am. I work part time at a flight school and help to move airplanes around on the ramp and clean them for customers. This man, a former Air Force pilot, crashed in a jet and could no longer walk or cognate correctly. However, his ear-to-ear grin I saw as I helped him out of the airplane was justification enough; he absolutely loves flying, an activity that was taken away from him. After thanking me six times for just helping him out of the plane and into the wheelchair, I identified that same passion for skiing. I realize the magnitude of his appreciation of his passion, and how unfortunate it would be to have that passion somehow taken away. More than anything else, my experience today redefined my view of skiing and revealed to me how privileged I am to pursue a sport I love. "You won't understand how much fun you're having until it's off to the real world" my dad says; a statement that could not be more true. Every single second of skiing is the best moment of my life, an endeavor far too valuable-or priceless- to be unappreciated.

Skiing is an escape, a community, and an enabler of confidence, but more than any of those qualities that captivates us all is the pursuance of a better state; mentally, physically, or spiritually. We do what we do because we can't get enough of it. My personal challenge at this point is that appreciation; whether it be my first run or my last, I will recognize my blessings and ride them, like my skis, until they are falling apart; buy a new pair, and keep on shredding.